Feb. 18, 2013
By Jon Cooper
Pitchers: Josh Heddinger, RHP (0-0, 0.00) vs. Ben Burns, LHP (1-0, 0.00), 4:00 p.m.
Georgia Tech looks to make it 4-0 on the young season as the Jackets host the Panthers of Georgia State today at 4 p.m.
The Yellow Jackets had a successful opening weekend, sweeping the Akron Zips at the Rusty C. The Jackets won a pair of tight contests, 3-0 on Opening Day behind the eight shutout innings of Buck Farmer, then routed the Zips, 10-3, on Saturday, getting a 4-for-4 day from Daniel Palka. On Sunday, they used a three-run, fifth-inning uprising and solid pitching from Cole Pitts and relievers Jonathan King and Zane Evans to complete the sweep, winning, 5-3.
The Panthers won two of three in its season-opening set with Butler. GSU overpowered the Bulldogs in winning Friday and Saturday, taking the opener, 12-7, then, 17-9 on Saturday. State nearly overcame a 10-2 deficit on Sunday, but fell short, 10-8. They scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth and brought the tying run at the plate but could not equalize.
Today’s game will be the 68th meeting between the two schools in a series that dates back to 1971. The Jackets hold a substantial 57-10 edge in the series and have lost only four times in 37 home meetings. Tech has won seven of the last 10 in the series and have won eight of the last 11 at home, but they’re only 3-2 in the last five home games, with a 30-26 difference in total runs scored.
Tech fans can see all of the action via webcast on Ramblinwreck.com and can catch the broadcast on WREK 91.1 FM in Atlanta, with Nolan Alexander and Wiley Ballard calling the action. Live stats are available on Gametracker on RamblinWreck.com.
Let’s play ball!
Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech scored four first-inning runs and pounded out 15 hits in blasting Georgia State, 8-4, last April 17th at Russ Chandler Stadium. The win ended a brief two-game series losing streak, only Tech’s second in the series. Jake Davies and Zane Evans each had three hits and a pair of RBIs to lead the assault. Consecutive one-out singles by Sam Dove, Brandon Thomas, Davies and Evans gave Tech a 2-0 lead, then, two batters later, Paul Kronenfeld singled to double the lead. The Jackets added a run in the fifth and three more in the sixth to open an 8-2 lead before Josh Heddinger and Alex Cruz closed things out. Dusty Isaacs got the win, throwing the first two innings (he was on a pitch count), allowing a run and two hits while striking out two. Heddinger impressed, striking out six in 5 1/3 innings.
Mid-Week Mound Match-up: Both sophomore Josh Heddinger and junior transfer Ben Burns have made one appearance this season and both are unscored upon. Tech’s 6-4, 216-pound, hard-throwing righty, threw a perfect eighth inning on Saturday against Akron, striking out the side on 18 pitches, 13 of them strikes. Burns, a sidewinding lefty, made his GSU debut a success, earning the win on Friday night. The transfer from Daytona State College went 2 1/3 scoreless innings, striking out two. He entered the game in the fifth, with GSU trailing 5-3 and was the beneficiary of their seven-run fifth. Burns threw 33 pitches, 21 for strikes, and hit a batter. Heddinger was 3-4 with a 6.39 ERA in 23 appearances last season for the Jackets, pitching primarily in relief but also making seven mid-week starts. Among his appearances was a 5 1/3-inning stint against Georgia State in Tech’s victory. He allowed three runs (two earned), on five hits, with a walk and six strikeouts.
Great Gonzo!: Freshman Matt Gonzalez gave Akron a display of what made him so attractive to MLB’s Oakland A’s. The Acworth, Ga., native and Harrison High School star, the A’s 11th-round pick in the 2012 June Amateur Draft, finished his first collegiate weekend with a team-high .556 batting average (5-for-9), four RBIs (tied for the team lead with Sam Dove), and a .545 on-base percentage (fourth on the team). He scored a run and was 2-for-2 in stolen bases. Defensively, he made one error in 11 chances at second, where he started Saturday and Sunday. Gonzalez, who had a least one hit and one RBI in all three games, drove in a key insurance run-on Friday (during which he DH’ed) with a sixth-inning double, went 3-for-3 with a run and a RBI on Saturday, and knocked in both the go-ahead and insurance runs on Sunday.
Aces High: Georgia Tech’s starters came out firing over the weekend. The trio of Buck Farmer, Dusty Isaacs and Cole Pitts allowed a total of three earned runs in 19 innings of work (a 1.42 ERA). They allowed 10 hits in 19 innings of work, walking four, while striking out 27. Farmer got 14 of those K’s, Isaacs had six whiffs against three walks, while Pitts showed outstanding control, punching out seven while walking one. Akron hit a combined .159 (10-for-63) against the Tech rotation.
Tech-nicalities: Georgia Tech’s victory over Georgia State last season ended only the second losing streak for the Yellow Jackets in the series. Following the first losing streak, a three-gamer (April 20, 1979, May 12, 1979 and March 25, 1980), Tech went on a series-high 18-game winning streak and won 32 of the next 33 meetings.
On Deck: Georgia Tech continues its season-opening homestand as it hosts a weekend set with St. John’s, while the Panthers continue a busy week, hosting Alabama A&M on Thursday then opening a weekend series against Grambling State.