March 26, 2013
THE FLATS – No. 16 Georgia Tech rallied with a pair of two-run home runs in the final two innings, and sophomore Daniel Spingola’s first career home run was a walk-off winner, as the Yellow Jackets rallied to beat The Citadel, 5-4, on a chilly Tuesday afternoon at Russ Chandler Stadium.
Daniel Palka launched a two-run homer to right in the eighth to make it 4-3 and Spingola finished it with a line-drive shot that cleared the wall in right. It is Tech’s second walk-off win this season, and the fourth over the last two years – Palka had both walk-off winners for the Jackets in 2012.
The victory improved Tech to 19-5 overall, snapping a two-game slide, while the Bulldogs slipped to 15-10.
“It was good to see us battle back today,” said head coach Danny Hall. “Palka’s home run was big for us, and Spingola hitting his first career home run in the ninth doesn’t get any better than that. He (Spingola) gave us a big lift when we needed it. We lost two tough games at Florida State and needed to start this week on a good note.”
Spingola finished 2-for-4, and his RBI double in the seventh inning put Tech on the board after Citadel pitching kept the nation’s best-hitting lineup off-balance for much of the day. Matt Gonzalez scored twice and had three hits, including a lead-off single up the middle in the ninth inning to get the rally started.
Freshman lefty Jonathan King went five innings in his first career start and allowed five hits with two walks and two strikeouts, but left the game with a 2-0 deficit thanks to a two-run single by Calvin Orth in the fourth. The Bulldogs increased that lead to 3-0 in the seventh with Joe Jackson’s RBI single.
After Spingola’s double in the seventh made it 3-1, the visitors reclaimed their three-run advantage when Tyler Griffin hit his seventh homer – a solo blast to right.
Three Bulldog pitchers each tossed two scoreless innings, before the Yellow Jackets touched up David Rivera for three hits and three runs in the seventh and eighth. Skylar Hunter was on the hook for the loss (0-1), yielding Gonzalez’s single and Spingola’s long ball.
Lefty reliever Devin Stanton made his first appearance for the Jackets since last year’s Opening Day (arm surgery), allowing a hit in two-thirds of an inning. Sam Clay tossed the final 1.2 innings for Tech and picked up his second win (2-0).
The blast for Palka was his fifth this season, the 30th of his career, but first in 10 games. Tech is 22-8 when Palka goes yard.
The Jackets’ walk-off hits this season have come from unlikely sources. Freshman Dylan Dore hit a ninth-inning single to beat St. John’s, 3-2, on Feb. 23 – it was his second career hit and first career RBI. Spingola’s homer Tuesday was his first since hitting a team-best 12 during his senior year at nearby Marist High School.
Tech is back in action this weekend with an ACC series versus Wake Forest on the Flats. Friday’s first pitch is set for 6 p.m. and all three games can be seen on ESPN3.