June 4, 2013
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Georgia Tech clawed its way from the loser’s bracket and took the tournament’s overall No. 2-seed Vanderbilt to a winner-take-all game on Monday in Nashville, but the Commodores advanced to the Super Regional with a 7-1 victory over the Yellow Jackets at Hawkins Field.
The Jackets (37-27) won twice Sunday, including a 5-0 win over Vandy to force Monday’s decisive game, and sent senior ace Buck Farmer to the mound for the second time in the Regional. Vandy (54-10), though, kept the clamps on Tech’s offense and moved on to host Louisville next week.
“I just want to congratulate our team and thank our team on the effort they gave this weekend,” said head coach Danny Hall. “To lose the first game and battle back and force a (second) championship game at Vanderbilt. I’m very proud of what they did. Tonight was Vanderbilt’s night. They got on top of us early and I thought Buck (Farmer) gave us a great effort. Vanderbilt has an outstanding team and has a chance to go a long way.”
Farmer gave Tech a gutsy effort over four innings, but Vandy scored once in the first and once in the second to build a lead it would not relinquish. Farmer, who threw just 58 pitches in a rain-shortened six-inning masterpiece in Saturday’s 5-1 win over East Tennessee State, allowed five hits and those two runs to the Commodores in what will be his last-ever start as a Jacket.
The three-time All-ACC selection absorbed the loss (9-5), finishing the dominant year with a 2.78 ERA and 122 strikeouts and 100 hits in 113.1 innings. He completes his Tech career ranked third all-time in strikeouts (387), tied for third in wins (33) and 14th in ERA (3.12). His 122 strikeouts this season is ranked tied for 12th at Tech and is the most in a single-season by a Jacket since Cory Vance’s 123 in 2000.
Tech had chances Monday, putting the lead-off man on in each of the first three innings, but double plays in the first and second allowed the hosts to dodge trouble. Vandy capitalized, and after a pair of two-out walks in the first, Conrad Gregor delivered an RBI single for a 1-0 lead.
A pair of singles by Vince Conde and Spencer Navin got VU rolling in the second, but Farmer limited the damage to just a run on Xavier Turner’s RBI grounder with one out.
Lefty Philip Pfiefer got the start for the Commodores and, boosted by the early double plays, kept the Jackets off the board. He pitched five shutout innings, allowing four hits with two walks and two strikeouts and was in line for the victory (4-0). Closer Brian Miller pitched no-hit ball over the final four innings to lock up his 16th save.
Tech stranded a pair in the third after singles from Matt Gonzalez and Daniel Spingola, and left two more on base in the fourth following back-to-back two-outs singles from A.J. Murray and Mott Hyde. Pfiefer got a fly out to end the fourth and retired Tech in order in his final inning of work.
Vandy runs in the fifth and sixth padded the lead to 4-0, but Tech got life in the seventh when Murray was hit by a pitch to lead off the frame. Mitch Earnest drew a two-out walk to keep the inning going and Spingola’s grounder was misplayed by the shortstop Conde and Murray motored home from second.
Three unearned runs scored by the opportunistic Commodores in the bottom of the seventh put the game away. Gregor finished 3-for-4 with an RBI to lead Vandy, while Conde and Navin each had two hits.
Murray’s fourth-inning single allowed him to finish the season on a career-best eight-game hitting streak. The sophomore had at least one hit in each of Tech’s eight postseason games.
The Jackets put four players on the Nashville Regional All-Tournament: juniors Zane Evans, Mott Hyde and Kyle Wren and sophomore Josh Heddinger. Vandy’s Mike Yastrzemski was named the regional’s Most Outstanding Player.
Tech played both games versus Vanderbilt without injured starting RF Daniel Palka (foot) and starting 3B Sam Dove (hamstring). Palka’s absence in Sunday night’s game snapped a streak of 129-consecutive starts and it was his first missed game since his freshman year.
Along with Farmer, seniors Dove and Brandon Thomas completed standout careers for the Yellow Jackets. The trio helped guide Tech to an ACC regular season title in 2011, to the ACC tournament crown in 2012 and continued Tech’s impressive NCAA postseason tradition.
Tech has won, or played for the regional title in each of its last nine NCAA postseason appearances. Tech has played in the NCAA postseason in six straight years, in 27 of the past 29 years and in 29 times in program history.