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Tech Baseball Travels to No. 5 Virginia for Weekend Series

April 12, 2007

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech (21-13, 9-6 ACC) travels to Charlottesville this weekend for a three-game series against No. 5 Virginia (30-7, 10-5ACC) beginning Friday at 7 p.m. The Yellow Jackets and Cavaliers will continue the series Saturday at 4 p.m. and conclude with a 1 p.m. first pitch Sunday afternoon.

GAME COVERAGE: The entire series can be followed on ACC Select (gatech.playonsports.tv) and heard on WREK-Radio (91.1 FM/www.wrek.org). Live stats are available at www.ramblinwreck.com.

Despite dropping a series, 2-1, at Miami last weekend, the Yellow Jackets have been on a hot streak of late, winning eight of their last 10 games and three of the last four Atlantic Coast Conference series. After starting the season 9-9, Georgia Tech has won 10 of its last 13 games.

Over the last 16 games, Georgia Tech has posted a 12-4 record as the Georgia Tech pitching staff has held opponents to just 3.5 runs per game and a .258 average.

Pitching Matchup (GT vs. UVa)

Friday: LHP David Duncan (5-2, 3.53) vs. RHP Jacob Thompson (8-0, 1.49) Saturday: RHP Eddie Burns (3-1, 2.33) vs. LHP Matt Packer (3-2, 3.27)
Sunday: LHP Ryan Turner (3-3, 3.88) vs. LHP Sean Doolittle (6-2, 2.42)

The Yellow Jacket offense is led by outfielder Danny Payne (.381-2-23-13), shortstop Michael Fisher (.360-3-29-7), DH Wally Crancer (.339-5-26-1) and catcher Matt Wieters (.336-7-35-1). Georgia Tech, as a team, is hitting .288 on the year.

Georgia Tech leads Virginia, 59-34-1

Georgia Tech leads Virginia, 59-34-1, in a series that dates to 1924. The Yellow Jackets and Cavaliers have played at least three games every year since 1999, including four times in 2005, with the Jackets capturing the ACC Championship with a 4-3 win over the Cavaliers in the 2005 title game.

After Virginia swept the Jackets in both the 2004 and 2005 regular season series, Tech has won three of the last four games between the two schools. Virginia earned a victory in the last contest in the series, defeating Tech, 6-3, in last year’s series finale after the Jackets won the first two games, 8-2 and 7-6, at Russ Chandler Stadium.

The Yellow Jackets are 20-19 against the Cavaliers in Charlottesville. Tech is looking for its first win at Virginia since the Jackets swept the series from the Wahoos in 2003.

Georgia Tech is 26-15 against Virginia under head coach Danny Hall and 9-9 vs. the Cavaliers in Charlottesville since Hall took over the program in 1994.

Neither team has scored in double digits in a game in the last five years, which spans a total of 16 games in the series. Virginia hasn’t scored in double figures since defeating Tech, 10-8, in 1997. Georgia Tech’s last double-digit win came at Virginia, 13-9, on April 1, 2001.

Yellow Jacket Short Hops

Jackets Ranked NATIONALLY: Georgia Tech center fielder Danny Payne is currently ranked second in the nation in walks per game (1.24), while catcher Matt Wieters’ 0.91 walks per game ranks stands at No. 13 in the rankings … Payne’s 1.24 runs per game is also good for 29th in the nation.

Streaking of Late: RHP Eddie Burns is 3-0 with 25 K’s and a 1.37 ERA in his last four games (26.1 IP) … LHP David Duncan is 2-0 with a 2.12 ERA and 30 K’s in his last four games (29.2 IP) … SS Michael Fisher is riding a 12-game hitting streak in which he’s batting .468 with four doubles, a triple, home run, 11 RBI, six walks and three stolen bases … LF Chris House has quietly put together a seven-game hitting streak in which he’s batting .296 … 3B Patrick Long has hit safely in seven of the nine games, hitting .361 with two doubles, a triple and two home runs during that span … 1B/DH Tony Plagman has hit safely in six of the last seven games (.375 BA, 5 2B, 1 HR, 8 RBI) … RHP Brad Rulon has made seven-straight scoreless appearances dating back to 3/18; he has struck out 11 and allowed just four hits through that eight-inning span … 2B Jeff Ussery has hit safely in nine of the last 11 games … C Matt Wieters is hitting .478 with two doubles, a triple, two home runs, seven RBI, and six walks in his current six-game hitting streak.

Bats Warm With the Weather: After hitting just .281 through the first 25 games of the season (through March 25), the Yellow Jacket offense has hit .306 through the last nine games.

Pitching Shines Over Last 16 Games

Despite a rough start to the season, the Yellow Jacket pitching staff has been the key component in the Yellow Jackets’ success of late, posting a 3.07 ERA while holding opponents to a .258 average through the last 16 games.

Tech's Top Performances Over the Last 16 Games:Opponent                        R       ER      ERA     opp avgBoston College, Mar. 16 0       0       0.00    .129Boston College, Mar. 17 2       2       2.00    .265at Georgia State, Mar. 21       0       0       0.00    .172at Duke, Mar. 23                2       1       1.00    .235at Duke, Mar. 25                1       1       1.00    .212Georgia Southern, Mar. 27       2       1       1.00    .200Georgia Southern, Mar. 28       2       2       2.00    .207Maryland, Apr. 1                2       1       1.00    .226Miami, Apr. 6           2       2       2.00    .219

During the span, Tech is 9-0 when Yellow Jacket pitchers have held its opponent to less than three runs, but 3-4 in the seven games when they’ve scored three or more.

Starting Pitching Bounces Back from Tough Start

With opponents hitting a solid .328 against Georgia Tech’s starting pitching in the month of February, Georgia Tech went 6-5 while the Yellow Jacket starters averaged a 6.08 ERA. To say there was an improvement in March would be an understatement, as the starting pitchers posted a 3.48 ERA while holding opponents to a .283 average.

Tech Starters Month-by-Month:Month           IP (Games)      H       R       ER      ERA     K       opp avgFebruary                47.1 (11)               63      40      32      6.08    30      .328March           106.0 (18)      117     48      41      3.48    80      .283April           26.1 (5)                31      12      10      3.42    25      .301

Perhaps most notable, however, is the starting pitching through the last 16 games, as the four Yellow Jacket starters (David Duncan, John Goodman, Ryan Turner, Eddie Burns) plus Jared Hyatt have combined for a 2.34 ERA while holding opponents to a .261 average during that span.

Tech Starters Over the Last 16 Games:Pitcher                 IP      H       R       ER      ERA     K       opp avgDavid Duncan (4 App) 29.2    32      8       7       2.12    30      .274John Goodman (3 App) 17.2    19      7       6       3.06    7       .279Ryan Turner (4 App)   23.1    27      11      8       3.09    18      .287Eddie Burns (4 App)   26.1    20      6       4       1.37    25      .211Jared Hyatt (1 Start) 3.0     2       1       1       1.00    2       .222

Starting Lineup is Anyone’s Guess

Through the first 34 games of the 2007 season, Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall has used 30 different lineup cards, with the only repeats coming against Rutgers in early March, vs. Kennesaw State in the middle of March, and once against both Maryland and Miami.

The only constant in every lineup has been that of preseason All-American Danny Payne, who has been Tech’s leadoff hitter and starting center fielder in every contest.

Avoiding the Big Inning

Three of Georgia Tech’s 13 losses have one common theme, a big inning early for the opponents which forced the Yellow Jackets to play catch-up the entire game.

Early Big Innings in Georgia Tech's LossesDate    Opponent                Score           Big Inning      Score after 3rd Inn.Feb. 10 at Ga. Southern L, 4-11         4 (2nd)         0-6Feb. 21 Georgia State   L, 5-9          5 (2nd)         4-6Feb. 27 Western Carolina        L, 7-10         4 (2nd)         0-6

Five of Tech’s other 10 losses were as a result of late-inning comebacks by the Jackets’ opponents, including a two-out nine-run uprising by Illinois-Chicago.

Late Inning Comebacks in Georgia Tech's LossesDate    Opponent                Score           Big InningFeb. 17 Illinois-Chicago        L, 4-11         9 (9th)**Mar. 4  Rutgers         L, 5-9          3 (7th & 9th)Mar. 11 Virginia Tech   L, 4-5          3 (9th)Apr. 7  Miami           L, 2-5          3 (11th)Apr. 8  Miami           L, 7-8          3 (5th & 7th)

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