April 9, 2008
ATLANTA – Luke Murton had four hits and drove in three runs to pace a 16-hit attack, and freshman Deck McGuire tossed 5-2/3 solid innings to lift Georgia Tech past Georgia, 9-4, in college baseball Wednesday night at Russ Chandler Stadium.
The first of three scheduled 2008 meetings pitting teams currently ranked 10th (Georgia Tech, now 26-7) and 11th (Georgia, now 20-12) in the nation was played before a stadium record crowd of 4,609.
Murton, a junior from McDonough, Ga., had a double and a home run among his four hits. He singled home a run for Tech in the fifth and capped the Jackets’ scoring with a two-run homer in the eighth. Thomas Nichols drove in a pair of runs with a double and triple, and Derek Dietrich added three hits for the Jackets.
“It was a great atmosphere. Next to (NCAA) playoffs, it’s probably the best atmosphere I’ve ever played in here at Tech. It was an awesome night for us,” said Murton.
McGuire, who improved to 5-0 for the season, allowed only one hit through the first five innings before the Bulldogs reached him for a pair of runs on three hits in the sixth. He left after 5-2/3 innings, having struck out seven with two walks. Tech’s bullpen scattered three hits and allowed just one run over the last 3-1/3 innings.
“He’s pitched great for us all year,” said Tech coach Danny Hall. “I’ve told him he doesn’t pitch like a freshman. He pitches like a veteran. He throws four pitches for strikes. I felt like he had great command of all his pitches tonight, and executed his pitches against a very good baseball team.”
Tech snapped a 1-1 tie with a pair of two-out hits in the fourth against Georgia reliever Nathan Moreau (1-1). Dietrich led off the frame with a double and scored on Nichols’ double with two outs. Tony Plagman followed with a single to plate Nichols.
Georgia chased McGuire in the sixth, scoring twice on three hits and a walk to trim its deficit to 5-3. Michael Demperio tripled to start the rally, scoring on Ryan Piesel’s sacrifice fly. Gordon Beckham and Bryce Massanari each singled around a walk to Rich Poythress for the second run.
Three more hits, including an RBI-triple by Nichols and a run-scoring single from Jason Haniger, restored Tech’s lead to four, 7-3, in the seventh. Murton belted his third homer of the season following a Dietrich single to make it 9-4 after eight.
Georgia starter Alex McRee, on a pitch limit, pitched into the third inning, giving up one run on four hits before being lifted. Tech did the rest of its damage against the Bulldogs’ bullpen, which entered the game having pitched 26-2/3 straight scoreless innings.
Both teams struggled to score early, each missing out on scoring opportunities with baserunning errors in the first inning. Georgia’s Gordon Beckham was picked off at first with two on and one out in the first, and Tech’s Charlie Blackmon was thrown out at home trying to score from second on an infield hit.
The Bulldogs scratched in the third when Matt Cerione reached first on a strikeout and wild pitch from McGuire, stole second and came around to score on a pair of groundouts. Tech answered in its half against McRee when Plagman walked and eventually scored on Jeff Rowland’s sacrifice fly.
The crowd total eclipsed previous marks for both post-season (4,468 vs. Southern California on June 2, 2000) and regular-season games (4,264 vs. Georgia on March 27, 2002).
Tech returns to action Friday for the beginning of a three-game series against top-ranked Miami. Game times are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 1 p.m. Sunday. All three games will be televised on Comcast Sports Southeast.