March 29, 2013
This weekend: Wake Forest (15-12, 3-6 ACC) at No. 16 Georgia Tech (19-5, 6-3, ACC)
Friday: Buck Farmer, RHP (5-0, 1.35) vs. Matt PIrro, RHP (3-3, 6.75), 6:00 p.m.
Saturday: Dusty Isaacs, RHP (3-2, 4.64) vs. Justin Van Grouw, RHP (3-3, 3.73), 4:00 p.m.
Sunday: Cole Pitts, RHP (4-1, 2.62) vs. Austin Stadler, LHP (4-2, 2.37), 1:00 p.m.
How To Watch/Listen: Jackets fans can see all three games via webcast on ESPN3 with The Richard and Roddy Show — Richard Musterer and Roddy Jones — and can catch all three broadcasts 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.
By John Cooper
Georgia Tech has recorded victories by at least five runs on 15 different occasions so far during the 2013 season.
In 14 games they have scored at least 10 runs in a game.
That’s pretty impressive stuff and enough to scare the daylights out of potential starting pitchers.
But this year’s Jackets have shown that they have something to keep the back end of opposing bullpens up at night as well. The scariest part of that is that it’s not Zane Evans, Daniel Palka or Brandon Thomas causing the nightmares — although they’ve been known to upset sleep patterns. The root of late-game opposing insomnia is a pair of outfielders coming off the bench, lefty-swinging sophomore Daniel Spingola and right-handed hitting freshman Dylan Dore.
Each has come off the bench to contribute a walk-off win.
“It’s really nice, when we get our opportunities, to try to take advantage of them,” said Dore. “Our lineup is really stacked. We have a great lineup and just to get in there and show what I can do, that’s my main goal.”
He’s shown plenty already. Dore is hitting .409 on the season and had his first career walk-off hit on Feb. 23, a single roped down the right field line that snapped a 2-2 tie and beat St. John’s. The hit gave the Jackets a win in what has been their lone game that was tied after eight innings.
Even though it was only his fifth collegiate game, Dore took a veteran approach to the at-bat.
“I just wanted to put the ball in play. I was going up there with an approach, hit a lefty pitcher, so I’m thinking away,” recalled the Cumming, Ga., native and Johns Creek High School product. “I wasn’t waiting around. First-pitch fastball. I stayed inside it and just put the ball right on the line. I thought it was going to go foul the way it was slicing, but it stayed in the park and I just got a base hit.”
He admitted that he’s not normally a first-ball hitter, but the higher quality pitching on the college level has forced him to become a little more aggressive.
“I try to pick a good pitch and if it’s a fastball down the middle I’m not going to wait around for a curveball,” he said, with a laugh. “You want to be aggressive in the count, especially when you have guys throwing plus-plus pitches. They’ve got good changes, good curveballs, so you really don’t want to wait around. You want to jump on the pitch right when you see it.”
Spingola was a little more patient on his walk-off hit on Tuesday afternoon that beat The Citadel, 5-4. He needed two pitches. He took an 0-1 pitch and launched it over the wall in right, giving the Jackets their first win of the season in a game they trailed after eight (they’d been 0-5, 0-3 in ACC play). The blow capped the second comeback from three runs down and put a wrap on Tech’s late-arriving offense, as they scored all five runs over the final three innings.
He taught Citadel reliever Skylar Hunter a lesson about throwing the same pitch in the same spot on consecutive offerings.
“The first pitch he started me off with a fastball inside. It got on me pretty quick. I was surprised,” he admitted. “The next pitch I think he tried to go back to the same spot and I just kind of reacted to it and got a good barrel on it and snuck it over.”
The blast from Spingola was first career home run. While the long ball was something new, Spingola’s ability to come through off the bench isn’t. He led the Jackets with a .400 average as a pinch hitter (4-for-10) in 2012 as a freshman. The hit was a nice confidence-builder after his slow start.
“I started off a little slow. I was kind of pressing a little bit just because I felt like I had to prove myself again,” said Spingola, who began the year 0-for-7, but has hits in eight of his last 12 games, during which he’s batting .440 (11-for-25). “Now I definitely feel a lot more comfortable at the plate. I’m just trying to get in a groove and hit like I did last year and just spray the ball more. It’s seemed to work out more recently.”
It worked out well on Tuesday and helped make a point to anyone who might consider leaving early to beat traffic.
“We can have a terrible first six innings and still fight back and hit a couple of home runs or just get people on because we have such good hitters throughout our lineup,” he said. “I don’t think we’re ever out of a game. Even if we’re five or six runs down we can still pull out a victory.”
Tech, which is 11-1 in weekend home games this season, hosts a Wake Forest team that is on a roll, having won three straight, including last weekend’s series win at Maryland, its first road series since the season’s first week.
Another weekend, another ACC series, another chance to perform some heroics.
“It’s really exciting. I love it. It’s a thrill,” said Dore. “I like trying to help the ball club out and I think I can do just get a good pitch and hit it. The ACC is really great. I’m just happy to be here.”
He and Spingola will be waiting in the wings, bat in hand, no matter how long it takes.
* * *
This weekend renews a rivalry that dates back to 1898. The Jackets hold a 68-38-1 overall record and are 40-13 in Atlanta. Under Danny Hall, Tech is 38-17 against the Demon Deacons, 19-5 at Russ Chandler Stadium, and are riding a run of 11 wins in the last 12. They’ve won four straight home series and six of eight series in Atlanta, five of them by sweep.
On Deck: Georgia Tech has a busy week, visiting Mercer on Tuesday, then hosting Kennesaw State on Wednesday before heading down Tobacco Road and stopping in Durham for a weekend series with Duke. Wake Forest returns home to host North Carolina at Greensboro on Tuesday then No. 9 Virginia over the weekend.