April 20, 2009
ATLANTA – No. 4 Georgia Tech (26-8-1) hosts Western Carolina (22-15) Tuesday at 6 p.m. in the front end of a home-and-home midweek series against the Catamounts. The following day, the Yellow Jackets travel to Cullowhee, N.C., where the two teams will square off at 6 p.m. Tuesday’s home game comes in the middle of a streak of nine road contests for the Yellow Jackets, who will travel to Clemson for a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference series this weekend.
The Yellow Jackets have won five-straight following a series sweep of Wake Forest in Winston-Salem, N.C., while the Catamounts won two of three against Samford over the weekend.
Georgia Tech was a consensus preseason top-25 team that moved into the top-10 in the season’s first official polls. The Yellow Jackets have been ranked as high as No. 3 this season (by Collegiate Baseball in March) and currently appear among the top-10 in all five polls: Collegiate Baseball (4), Baseball America (7), Rivals.com (7), USA Today (7) and the NCBWA (8).
Senior RF Luke Murton (.372-11-39-3), junior 1B Tony Plagman (.363-10-46-4) and freshman 3B Matt Skole (.343-10-33-2) are powering the Yellow Jacket offense in 2009, while sophomore CF Jeff Rowland (.361-5-27-15), sophomore SS Derek Dietrich (.331-5-32-4) and senior C Jason Haniger (.326-5-33-2) have been hot of late.
GAME COVERAGE: The series can be heard on WREK Radio (91.1 FM in Atlanta/www.wrek.org), while live stats will be available at Ramblinwreck.com. ACC Select (www.accselect.com) will carry a live online video braodcast of Tuesday’s game.
Tech vs. Western Carolina (Tech leads, 17-15)
Georgia Tech holds a narrow 17-15 edge in the series against the Catamounts, including a 16-15 record at Russ Chandler Stadium. The Yellow Jackets have never faced Western Carolina on its home field and have played the Catamounts away from home just once in history – meeting at Mark Light Field in the 1986 NCAA Coral Gables Regional.
The series has been tightly-contested of late, as the two teams have split the last six games, 3-3. Georgia Tech has scored at least 10 runs just once in that six-game span, while a 10-7 win by the Catamounts in 2007 is the one and only time Western Carolina has reached double figures against the Jackets since the 1997 season (a span of nine games).
Georgia Tech won the last meeting in the series, 4-1, at Russ Chandler Stadium on March 4, 2008, to improve Danny Hall’s record against the Catamounts to 7-5.
Hall Meets Former Assistant
When Georgia Tech and Western Carolina square off this weekend, it will pit current Catamount head coach Bobby Moranda against his former boss Danny Hall. From 2002-07, Moranda served as an associate head coach under Hall at Georgia Tech, helping the Yellow Jackets to a pair of College World Series appearances (2002, 2006) while serving as the Tech pitching coach. Hall is 1-0 against his former assistant.
Rowland Tabbed ACC Player of the Week
Georgia Tech’s Jeff Rowland was named the Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Player of the Week following his performance last week. Rowland scored seven of the Yellow Jackets’ 56 runs in a week in which Georgia Tech went 5-0, with all five wins coming on the road. The centerfielder had a team-best .500 batting average, with four multi-hit games to his credit. Rowland posted a .792 slugging percentage with a pair of doubles, a triple and a home run and also had a .538 on-base percentage. The honor was the first of the sophomore’s career and it marked the third time this season that a Yellow Jacket received one of the ACC’s weekly accolades.
Haniger Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award Finalist
While catcher Jason Haniger continues to rack up athletic and academic honors, the senior has been recognized for his work off the field and away from the classroom as well. In March, Haniger was named one of 30 candidates for the 2009 Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, which recognizes exceptional senior baseball student-athletes that excel in the classroom and competition but also give back to the community and are of honorable character.
On April 15, the list of candidates was narrowed to 10 finalists, and Haniger is one of three ACC baseball players included in the list of finalists for the award. A portion of the vote is decided by fans, who can log onto www.seniorclassaward.com daily to vote, or they may text BSB6 to 839863.
Pitching Shines in Last Week
Georgia Tech’s pitching staff, a source of inconsistency at times during the early part of the season, has been solid through the last five games, beginning with a matchup against No. 1-ranked Georgia in Athens last Tuesday.
The Yellow Jackets are 5-0 with a 1.80 ERA over the those five games. In the last 45.0 innings, Tech’s pitchers have held opponents to a .200 batting average, striking out 51 batters while issuing just 17 walks.
Last weekend alone, the Yellow Jacket pitching staff held Wake Forest to a .143 batting average while going 3-0 with a 0.33 ERA. The Demon Deacons plated just three runs against Georgia Tech, only one of which was earned.
46 and Counting…
Georgia Tech has played 46 consecutive innings without trailing in a game, including all five contests last week. The last time Georgia Tech was behind in a game was in the middle of the eighth inning of the series finale against Virginia on April 12. The Yellow Jackets plated two runs in the bottom of that eighth inning against the Cavaliers and have either led or been tied at the end of the next 46 innings heading into this week’s play against Western Carolina.