Tech & Georgia Renew Baseball Rivalry This Week

April 17, 2007

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech (22-14) returns to Atlanta for a four-game homestand beginning this week when in-state rival Georgia (13-24) visits Russ Chandler Stadium Wednesday at 7 p.m.

GAME COVERAGE: The game will be broadcast on SportsSouth on a tape-delay basis immediately following the Atlanta Thrashers’ NHL Playoff Game against the New York Rangers Wednesday night. It can be heard live on WREK-Radio (91.1 FM/www.wrek.org), while live stats are available at www.ramblinwreck.com.

The Yellow Jackets are coming off a weekend in which they split a pair of games against fifth-ranked Virginia in Charlottesville, while the Bulldogs dropped two of three at Alabama’s Sewell-Thomas Stadium in an SEC series.

Georgia Tech has won nine of its last 12 games while Georgia has gone 3-9 in its last 12 contests.

Over the last 18 games, Georgia Tech has posted a 13-5 record as the Georgia Tech pitching staff has held opponents to just 3.6 runs per game and a .256 average. Wednesday’s game is scheduled to be a staff day for both the Georgia Tech and University of Georgia pitching staffs.

Starting Pitching Matchup (GT vs. UGA)
Wednesday: LHP Ryan Turner (3-3, 3.88) vs. LHP Alex McRee (2-2, 3.15)

The Yellow Jacket offense is led by outfielder Danny Payne (.375-2-23-13), shortstop Michael Fisher (.367-3-31-7), catcher Matt Wieters (.338-7-36-1), DH Wally Crancer (.326-5-28-1) and 1B/DH Tony Plagman (.314-1-13-3). Georgia Tech, as a team, is hitting .288 on the year.

Georgia leads Georgia Tech, 190-146-2

Georgia leads Georgia Tech, 190-146-2, in a series that dates to 1898. The Yellow Jackets and Bulldogs have played at least two games every year since 1946, including three times in 2006, with the University of Georgia winning two of the three contests. After Georgia Tech earned an 8-2 win over the Bulldogs in the first meeting last season, Georgia captured a 12-6 victory over the Yellow Jackets in Athens before sneaking past Tech, 5-4, in an 11-inning thriller at Turner Field in the last contest between the two teams.

The series has been more even of late, as Tech holds a slight 9-8 edge over the Bulldogs since 2001.

Georgia Tech is 84-68-1 vs. the Bulldogs in games played at home, including winning the last two contests at Russ Chandler Stadium.

The Yellow Jackets are 28-21 against Georgia under head coach Danny Hall and 17-8 vs. the Bulldogs in games played at Russ Chandler Stadium since Hall took over the program in 1994.

In the last six years, the Yellow Jackets and Bulldogs have faced each other five times in postseason play.

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 27 K’s and a 2.08 ERA in his last five games (30.1 IP) … LHP David Duncan is 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA and 33 K’s in his last five games (36.2 IP) … SS Michael Fisher is riding a 14-game hitting streak in which he’s batting .473 with four doubles, a triple, home run, 13 RBI, eight walks and three stolen bases … LF Chris House has quietly put together a nine-game hitting streak in which he’s batting .286 … RHP Jared Hyatt is 2-0 with a 0.96 ERA and 10 K’s in his last five appearances (9.1 IP) … 3B Patrick Long has hit safely in nine of the 11 games, hitting .341 with three doubles, a triple and two home runs during that span … 1B/DH Tony Plagman has hit safely in eight of the last nine games (.364 BA, 6 2B, 1 HR, 9 RBI) … RHP Brad Rulon has made eight-straight scoreless appearances dating back to 3/18; he has fanned 14 and allowed just four hits through that 10-inning span … 2B Jeff Ussery has hit safely in 10 of the last 12 games … C Matt Wieters is hitting .452 with three doubles, a triple, two home runs, eight RBI, and eight walks in his current eight-game hitting streak.

Pitching Shines Over Last 18 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 3.14 ERA while holding opponents to a .256 average through the last 18 games.

Tech's Top Performances Over the Last 18 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    .219Virginia, Apr. 13               1       1       0.82    .162

During the span, Tech is 10-0 when Yellow Jacket pitchers have held its opponent to less than three runs, but 3-5 in the eight games when they’ve scored three or more.

Relying on a Veteran Bullpen

Georgia Tech’s pitching staff was bolstered by strong efforts from the bullpen in 2006, and that group returned essentially in tact in 2007. In 2006, the relievers pitched 258 innings in 68 games, posting a 3.56 ERA and a 21-7 record with 18 saves. In the five NCAA Regional & Super Regional games, Tech’s bullpen posted a 0.00 ERA in 8.1 innings while recording two saves.

Bullpen Tale of the Tape in 2007Overall         W-L     SV      ERA     IP      ER      Opp avg.Georgia Tech    8-5     7       4.82    132.2   71      .264Opponents               9-6     6       6.04    158.0   106     .266

Starting Lineup is Anyone’s Guess

Through the first 36 games of the 2007 season, Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall has used 32 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.

Tech Versus the State of Georgia

Georgia Tech went 9-3 against teams from the state of Georgia in 2006, but this season the Jackets have struggled against instate foes, going 4-4 vs. the state with their wins coming against Kennesaw State in the first home game of 2007, vs. Georgia State and in a sweep against Georgia Southern in late March. The Jackets still have three games against Georgia remaining on the schedule for 2007.

Since 1999, the Yellow Jackets own a 75-24 (.757) mark against in-state foes. In 13 years under head coach Danny Hall, Tech is 118-41 (.742) against teams from Georgia.

Avoiding the Big Inning

Three of Georgia Tech’s 14 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

Six of Tech’s other 11 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)Apr. 14 Virginia                L, 6-7  3 (9th)

“5” – The Magic Number

Since the arrival of pitching coach Bobby Moranda prior to the 2002 season, the Yellow Jackets are 186-22 (.894) when allowing five runs or less. The Yellow Jackets were 36-5 when allowing five runs or less in 2006, and are 14-3 in those games in 2007.

Tech went 38-2 in 2002, 34-2 in 2003, 33-3 in 2004 and 31-7 in 2005 when allowing five runs or less. When allowing six or more runs, the Yellow Jackets are 67-80 since 2002.

Upperclassmen Climbing Tech Career Records

A trio of Yellow Jacket juniors – Matt Wieters, Danny Payne and Brad Rulon – as well as fifth-year senior Jared Hyatt appear in the Georgia Tech career records and are steadily climbing the charts. The following is a list of where they stand:

Jared Hyatt:  Games Pitched - 16th - 71Danny Payne:   Stolen Bases - 9th - 57Brad Rulon:  Games Pitched - T-11th - 73Matt Wieters:  Saves - 7th - 16;    Doubles - T-15th - 48    RBI - 13th - 175

A CLASS Act

Yellow Jacket senior starting pitcher Ryan Turner has been named one of 30 candidates for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, which honors a senior baseball player that excels both on and off the field and has chosen to remain in school to pursue the multiple rewards that a senior season can bring.

Candidates were selected based on personal qualities that define a complete student-athlete, including on-the-field performance, leadership qualities, working towards their degree, and the impact that they have made in their local communities.

The award, which stands for Celebrating Loyalty and Achievement for Staying in School, will be presented during the 2007 College World Series in Omaha following fan balloting coupled with votes from coaches, media and sponsors from around the nation.

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