May 27, 2002
ATLANTA– – Georgia Tech has been selected to host one of 16 regional tournaments this weekend in the opening round of the NCAA Division I Baseball Championship, and the 7th-ranked Yellow Jackets will face Coastal Carolina at 7 p.m. Friday in the first round of the NCAA Atlanta Regional at Russ Chandler Stadium.
Tech (46-14) is the top seed in the Atlanta Regional, paired against the fourth-seeded Chanticleers (43-17). No. 2 seed Georgia (30-27) will square off against No. 3 seed Louisville (39-16) at 3 p.m. to open the tournament.
“When we committed to build this new stadium, we were hoping it would increase our chances of hosting a regional,” said Tech head coach Danny Hall. “I think we played all year like a team worthy of hosting, so it’s nice to rewarded.
“There were a lot of unknowns for us going into this season. I think people looked at the players we lost and thought we might have had a rebuilding year, but I just try to look at the talent we have and figure out a way to utilize it. I knew we had a very good freshmen class, and I knew we were going to have to play a lot of those guys, but I really give our upperclassmen the credit for bringing those guys along. Everybody did their job, and as a result, we got an opportunity to host an NCAA regional, which is a tremendous thrill.”
The losers of Friday’s games will play in Game Three on Saturday at 11 a.m., while the two winners will meet in Game Four on Saturday at 3 p.m. Game Five will be played on Saturday at 7 p.m., pitting the winner of Game Three against the loser of Game Four.
The regional championship game will be played on Sunday at 1 p.m., with a second game 45 minutes following if necessary.
Tickets to the NCAA Atlanta Regional are available through the Georgia Tech ticket office. On-line order forms are available at www.ramblinwreck.com. Call 1-888-TECH-TIX or 404-894-5447 for more information. Reserved seat all-tournament books (seven games) are $70. Single game tickets are $10 for a reserved chairback seat, $7 for general admission and $5 for students.
The winner of the Atlanta Regional will be paired in a Super Regional against the winner of the NCAA Tuscaloosa Regional, featuring Alabama, Southeast Missouri State, Auburn and Florida International, to be played June 7-9 at a site to be determined. The eight Super Regional winners advance to the College World Series, June 14-22 at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb.
Georgia Tech went 2-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament and 15-8 during the regular season to finish fifth in the conference but was ranked among the nation’s top 10 most of the season. The Yellow Jackets have seven starters batting over .300, led by senior shortstop Victor Menocal (.362, 1 home run, 44 runs batted in) and all-ACC freshman second baseman Eric Patterson (.354-3-33, 36 stolen bases). Junior catcher Tyler Parker (.318-9-54) and sophomore outfielder Matt Murton (.350-10-53) also made the all-ACC second team for the Jackets.
The rest of the Tech starting lineup includes senior third baseman Matthew Boggs (.351-1-37), freshman right fielder Jeremy Slayden (.344-17-56), junior first baseman-outfielder Jason Perry (.312-11-53) and senior center fielder Wes Rynders (.402-2-25)
The Yellow Jackets’ pitching staff is led by a pair of 10-game winners in sophomore lefthander Kyle Bakker (10-2, 3.66 earned run average), Tech’s No. 1 starter, and junior righthander Jeff Watchko (11-1, 3.16), who has excelled as a starter and a reliever. Also part of the Tech rotation are junior righthander Brian Burks (9-6, 3.97), freshman righthander Kyle Schmidt (5-2, 3.75) and junior righthander Chris Goodman (6-1, 4.46).
Tech posted an 18-12 record against this year’s NCAA field, including a 4-1 mark against the teams in the NCAA Atlanta Regional. The Jackets defeated Coastal Carolina, the champions of the Big South Conference, 2-1, on Feb. 22 in the Baseball at the Beach Tournament at Myrtle Beach, S.C. The teams also met in the first round of last year’s NCAA Regional, when the Chanticleers knocked off Tech, 5-3, in Athens, Ga. Tech leads the series, 11-2.
“We saw how good Coastal Carolina was when we played them earlier this year in Myrtle Beach and beat them 2-1,” said Hall. “Kyle Bakker pitched one of his best games of the year, and they have a lefthander who also pitched great. They have a very good program, and it’s certainly not a surprise to me that they won their league and are back in here.”
Tech captured three of the four meetings with Georgia this season, dropping the first game, 7-1, in Athens on Mar. 26 before winning the next three, 9-1 (Mar. 27 in Atlanta), 6-1 (Apr. 24 in Athens), and 12-11 (May 14 in Atlanta). The Bulldogs, who received an at-large berth after finishing tied for fifth in the Southeastern Conference, eliminated Tech from last year’s NCAA Regional with a 13-5 victory in Athens and lead the all-time series, 181-137-2.
Louisville is making its first NCAA appearance after receiving an at-large bid from Conference USA. Tech is 0-2 against the Cardinals, but the two teams have not met since 1977 when both were members of the Metro Conference.
“We have our in-state rival coming in here in Georgia, so that certainly will create interest, and Louisville had a great season, and they play in a great conference,” said Hall.
This year’s event marks the fifth NCAA Regional to be played at Russ Chandler Stadium, which has a capacity of 4,157. Georgia Tech hosted regional tournaments in 1987, in which Georgia advanced to the College World Series; 1993, won by Wichita State; and 2000, won by Georgia Tech. Tech also hosted a super regional in 2000, but fell to Southern California, which advanced to the College World Series. The Yellow Jackets are 5-6 in NCAA Tournament games played at Russ Chandler Stadium and 37-36 in all NCAA Tournament games.
Tech is playing in its 19th NCAA Tournament, and has made the field 17 times in the last 18 years dating back to 1985. The Yellow Jackets have advanced to the College World Series once, in 1994, out of the Midwest Regional in Wichita, Kan., and reached the national championship game before losing to Oklahoma, 13-5.
NCAA ATLANTA REGIONAL BASEBALL TOURNAMENT
May 31-June 2, 2002
Russ Chandler Stadium, Atlanta, Ga.
Friday, May 31
Game 2: #2 Georgia vs. #3 Louisville, 3 p.m.
Game 1: #1 Georgia Tech vs. #4 Coastal Carolina, 7 p.m.
Saturday, June 1
Game 3: Loser game 1 vs. Loser game 2, 11 a.m.
Game 4: Winner game 1 vs. Winner game 2, 3 p.m.
Game 5: Winner game 3 vs. Loser game 4, 7 p.m.
Sunday, June 2
Game 6 Winner game 4 vs. Winner game 5, 1 p.m. (First possible championship game)
Game 7 Same teams (if necessary), 45 min. after game 6
For Tickets, call 888-TECH-TIX or 404-894-5447 locally
On-line order forms available at www.ramblinwreck.com
Tournament books (reserved seat): $70
Single game (reserved seat): $10
Single game (general admission seat): $7
Single game (student) : $5