May 31, 2009
ATLANTA – Georgia Tech belted three home runs in the first two innings to jump ahead, while Andrew Robinson and Thomas Nichols combined to scatter nine hits and lift the 13th-ranked Yellow Jackets to a 10-3 victory over Southern Miss Sunday night in the NCAA Atlanta Regional at Russ Chandler Stadium.
The win by Tech (37-18-1) forced a second championship game against USM (37-24) Monday night at 7 p.m. The winner of that game advances to a super regional next week against Florida, the winner of the regional in Gainesville, Fla. Tech had eliminated Elon, 8-4, earlier in the day.
Tickets are available online at www.ramblinwreck.com now, or can br purchased at the Tech ticket office at 150 Bobby Dodd Way during regular business hours Monday. Tickets will be on sale at the Russ Chandler Stadium box office at 5 p.m.
The Yellow Jackets can advance to their sixth super regional with a win Monday night. The Golden Eagles are attempting to win their first regional title, having lost in the championship round on three previous occasions. Tech, which improved to 3-6 in elimination games in NCAA regionals since 2000 (21-19 all-time), are 1-1 in “if necessary” games, and is attempting to win a regional out of the loser’s bracket for the first time.
Tech used the long ball to jump ahead early, scoring three times in the first against USM starter Jeff Stanley (4-2) on Luke Murton’s solo home run, his 20th of the season, and a two-run blast from Jay Dantzler, his fifth. Southern Miss answered with two in the bottom half of the frame on Michael Ewing’s sacrifice fly and an RBI single from Joey Archer.
Cole Leonida hit a solo homer, his fifth of the season, with two outs in the second to give the Yellow Jackets a 4-2 lead. The three home runs increased its season total to 110, the second-highest total in team history.
Tech collected 12 hits, with eight of the nine starters contributing at least one, and nine different players scored runs.
Meanwhile, Andrew Robinson (1-0), a junior making his second career start, scattered seven hits and two walks over five innings. He blanked the Golden Eagles over his last four innings of work. It was his first win since May 30 of last season, when he earned a relief victory over Louisville in the NCAA Tournament in Athens.
Thomas Nichols, an infielder/pitcher who entered the game with a 10.57 ERA, closed out the game with a career-long outing of four innings for his first career save. He allowed just two hits, one of them a pinch-hit home run by Kyle Maxie in the ninth. Nichols had not pitched longer than 1 1/3 innings in any of his 10 prior appearances this year.
In the two elimination games Tech played Sunday, Tech’s bullpen allowed just two runs in 10 innings of work, including five shutout innings from freshman Mark Pope in the Jackets’ 8-4 win over Elon earlier in the day.
Capitalizing on a hit batter, a sacrifice bunt and an error to start the frame, Tech struck for three more runs in the sixth. Jeff Rowland and Chris House drilled back-to-back singles to drive in runs, and Tony Plagman’s sacrifice fly gave the Jackets a 7-2 lead.