May 24, 2003
Salem, Va. – Jeremy Slayden and Steven Blackwood homered to spark a nine-run first inning for Georgia Tech, and the 10th-ranked Yellow Jackets coasted to a 23-4 victory over Duke Saturday afternoon in the Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Tournament at Salem Memorial Stadium.
Tech (41-16) advanced in the losers’ bracket to face North Carolina (39-20) in an elimination game at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, and is in the position of having to win three games Sunday to capture the ACC championship. The Tech-UNC winner advances to a 1 p.m. contest against Florida State. NC State, a 17-6 loser to the Seminoles Saturday night, awaits the survivor in the championship game at approximately 4 p.m.
The Jackets set an all-time team high for runs in an ACC Tournament game, and came within one of a tournament scoring record set by Clemson against Tech in 1991. The margin of victory set a tournament record, breaking the previous mark of 16 in the same game.
Slayden, who was 1-for-6 with a home run in Tech’s first two tournament games, set a tournament record and tied a Tech mark for hits by going 6-for-6, adding a pair of doubles and three singles to his first-inning homer.
Tech sent 14 men to the plate in the first and set an all-time team high for runs in an inning of an ACC Tournament game.
Blackwood’s blast high off the scoreboard in right-center field, his fifth homer of the season, came after Eric Patterson reached second on an outfield error to start the game. After Matt Murton struck out, Clifton Remole walked and Mike Nickeas singled, setting up Slayden’s blast to deep center field, his eighth of the season, which made the score 5-0.
Micah Owings doubled and scored on an error, and Tech scored three more times in the frame on run-scoring singles from Patterson, Blackwood and Remole added run-scoring singles to make the score 9-0.
Tyler Greene belted his eighth homer of the season with two men aboard in the second to make the score 12-1. Singles by Remole and Slayden sandwiched around a walk to Nickeas plated another run for Tech in the third to extend the lead to 13-1.
Junior Aaron Walker (3-2), making just his third start of the year, was the beneficiary of Tech’s outburst, which came on the heels of a scoreless effort Friday night against NC State. The lefthander went the distance, scattering 11 hits and two walks while striking out six. Only two of the four runs he allowed were earned. His previous long outing was 5-2/3 innings earlier this month against Georgia.
His complete game was just the third for Tech this season and came at a juncture where the Jackets must win three more games to win the tournament.
Tech added five runs in the sixth and five more in the seventh to expand its lead to 23-1 before the Blue Devils scored three times against Walker in the eighth. Remole finished the game 4-for-5 with four RBI, while Patterson and Blackwood drove in three runs apiece. Catcher Andy Hawranick went 3-for-5 with an RBI.
Duke used five pitchers in the game. Tech had chased two Blue Devils pitchers by the end of the second inning. Starter Kevin Thompson (2-10) was gone after Slayden’s homer in the first, having faced just six batters while giving up five runs. Reliever Zach Schreiber didn’t fare much better, allowing seven of the 11 hitters he faced to score before giving way to Justin Dilucchio in the second. Dilucchio surrendered nine runs in 4-1/3 innings, and Drew Jerdan five unearned runs in just 1-1/3 innings.
In earlier action Saturday, Florida State eliminated Virginia, 2-0, before defeating NC State. The Wolfpack, the tournament’s last undefeated team, sent North Carolina into the loser’s bracket with a 7-6 victory in 11 innings before falling to the Seminoles.
Should NC State defeat FSU Saturday night, the Tech-UNC winner will meet the Wolfpack at 1 p.m. Sunday, and would have to defeat the Wolfpack twice to win the tournament.
A Florida State win Saturday night sends the Seminoles into the 1 p.m. game against the Tech-UNC winner, with NC State awaiting the survivor for the championship immediately following.
The 1 p.m. game will be televised live on Fox Sports Net South and Sunshine Network. The potential third game will be aired live on Sunshine Network and on a tape-delayed basis at 8 p.m. on Fox Sports Net South.
Radio coverage for all of Tech’s games in the double elimination tournament is available on WREK-Radio (91.1 FM in Atlanta), while live statistics and the radio broadcast will be available on the internet at www.ramblinwreck.com.