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#STINGDAILY: On-Tech Circle -- Georgia Tech vs. Georgia Southern

Feb. 25, 2013

By Jon Cooper
Sting Daily

Tuesday: Josh Heddinger, RHP (1-0, 6.00) vs. Justin Hess, RHP (0-1, 8.85), 6:00 p.m.
Wednesday: TBA vs. Evan Challenger, LHP (0-0, 3.00), 6:00 p.m.

No. 20 Georgia Tech goes on the road for the first time in 2013, traveling to Statesboro for a two-game, mid-week series against the Georgia Southern Eagles at J.I. Clements Stadium.

Mother Nature made her presence felt over the weekend, but the Yellow Jackets still took the series with St. John’s. After rain cancelled play on Friday, the teams split a doubleheader on Saturday. Buck Farmer pitched seven shutout innings and left with a 2-0 lead, but St. John’s rallied to tie the game in the eighth off Jonathan King. That set up the heroics of freshman Dylan Dore, whose opposite-field single down the right field line scored Mott Hyde with the winning run in the ninth for a 3-2 victory. King got the win, the first of his college career. In the nightcap, the Jackets nearly overcame a 9-3 deficit in the ninth inning, but fell short, losing 9-7. Dusty Isaacs took the loss, going 6 1/3 innings, allowing six earned runs on four hits. The Jackets got two hits from Brandon Thomas and A.J. Murray and a pair of RBIs from Daniel Palka and Matt Gonzalez. Tech outhit St. John’s, 9-7, and drew seven walks, but couldn’t get the big hit, as they left 10 men on base. The sun came out on Sunday and the Jackets won the finale, 10-1. Cole Pitts (2-0) got the win, allowing a run and four hits in six innings. Pitts, who is 4-0 over his last five starts, was staked to a 2-0 lead after one, on RBI singles from Thomas and Evans. That would be more than enough for the hard-throwing sophomore righty, who retired the final seven hitters he faced. Tech tacked on five runs in the fifth to break the game open. Palka and Gonzalez each had three hits, and Gonzalez drove in three runs. Zane Evans also drove in a pair and pitched a scoreless ninth.

Weather really messed with Georgia Southern, which only got in two of its scheduled three games with Indiana. GSU split the series, winning the opener, which started on Friday, but was halted due to fog, then moved to Sunday due to Saturday rain. In the opener, the Eagles led 5-0 after two and got 3 1/3 solid innings from starter Justin Hess, before the fog rolled in. On Sunday, they broke open the game with a two-run fifth and a five-run sixth that saw back-to-back-to-back homers by third baseman Ben Morgan, catcher Chase Griffin and first baseman T.D. Davis. The Eagles then held off the Hoosiers, who rallied for two in the eight and three in the ninth. Davis went 3-for-5, with two homers and five RBIs, while Griffin went 4-for-5, with a homer, three RBIs and three runs scored and Morgan had a homer and three RBIs. In the second game, Indiana pounded out 16 hits in an 11-5 blowout. Kyle Hart took the loss, allowing three runs (two earned) and three hits in four innings. Scooter Williams had a hit, an RBI and scored two runs.

Tonight’s game will be the 121st meeting between the two schools in a series that dates back to 1947. The Jackets have a dominant 91-29 edge in the series and are 39-14 in Statesboro. Tech has won nine of the last 11 overall and is 6-4 in the last 10 on the road, with seven of those games decided by three-or-fewer runs.

Tech fans can catch both games on WREK 91.1 FM in Atlanta, with Nolan Alexander and Wade Rogers calling the action. Live stats are available on Gametracker on RamblinWreck.com.

Let’s play ball!

Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech had 14 hits, and got six strong innings from freshman Cole Pitts in handling Georgia Southern 10-5 at Russ Chandler Stadium. Brandon Thomas and Connor Lynch each had three hits and Jake Davies and Daniel Palka had two each, with Palka blasting his eight homer of the season. The Jackets got three RBIs from Palka and two each from Thomas and Davies. With the game tied 3-3 in the fifth, Sam Dove’s RBI double gave the Jackets the lead. Davies followed with an RBI single then Palka launched a homer to right. Pitts struck out a career-high eight in the win. Thomas Smith, making his first appearance at second, made a highlight reel play to thwart a seventh-inning scoring threat and the Jackets cruised home. Dove’s double extended his hitting streak to 17 games.

First Blood: It’s shouldn’t have been surprising to see Buck Farmer throw seven shutout innings in the first game of the Yellow Jackets’ doubleheader Saturday afternoon against St. John’s. Four times in his career, Farmer has started the first game of a twin-bill and all four times he’s been almost unhittable. In those four starts, he’s pitched to a 0.87 ERA, having allowed three earned runs (five total) in 31 innings, while surrendering 19 hits with a 12:1 strikeouts-to-walks ratio (36 K’s vs. 3 BBs). Farmer has two complete games, including a three-hit masterpiece last March 31st, when he out-dueled Duke’s Marcus Stroman in a 1-0 thriller at Russ Chandler Stadium. He also threw a complete-game five-hitter against Austin Peay in the 2011 NCAA Tournament, keeping the Yellow Jackets alive. Tech is 3-1 in Farmer’s four games, with the lone loss coming last opening day, when he allowed two earned runs and six hits, with nine K’s against Kent State, in a 5-0 defeat. Over his last two first-game starts, Buck has not allowed a run in 16 innings, giving up seven hits, without a walk, while striking out 18. In those two games, he’s thrown 73.6 percent of his pitches for strikes (148 of 201).

First In Score…: Georgia Tech has jumped on opponents early this season and it has paid off handsomely. The Jackets have outscored opponents 8-0 in the first inning and have a 15-3 edge over the first three innings. Tech is 5-0 when scoring in the first inning and 5-0 when scoring first.

Don’t Get Fooled Again: Opposing starters shouldn’t get too secure should they get through the Yellow Jackets order the first time, as Tech hitters have been even more potent the second time around. Tech has scored a dozen runs in both the fourth and fifth innings this season and have outscored opponents 24-8 in those two frames.

D f ns !: Georgia Tech’s high-powered offense and superb pitching has overshadowed the fact that the Yellow Jackets are playing immaculate defense. Last year the Jackets were 11th in the 12-team ACC in fielding percentage, at .961, and made 95 errors. Only Miami committed more miscues (99). So far in 2013, the Jackets have a .985 fielding percentage, tops in the ACC, and their four errors are tied with Clemson for fewest in the conference. They’ve been clean in five of the first seven games and have made only one change on the infield (Matt Gonzalez taking over at second for Thomas Smith). Last season after seven games, the Jackets had used seven different infield combinations and had committed 11 errors, while fielding .958.

On Deck: Georgia Tech hosts a weekend set with Rutgers, while Southern continues its homestand, hosting Xavier this weekend.

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