April 21, 2012
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Georgia Tech scored four unanswered runs over the final three innings and rallied for a 4-2 win at No. 6 North Carolina Saturday afternoon to split the doubleheader and take the weekend series from the Tar Heels. Brandon Thomas’ RBI single in the eighth was the game winner.
Jake Davies launched a two-out, two-run bomb in the seventh inning for the tie, and Thomas and Zane Evans added RBIs in the decisive eighth inning to lift the Yellow Jackets (24-17, 9-12) to their first ACC road series win of the season. It was also Tech’s first ACC road series win over a Top 10 team since taking two at No. 2 Miami in 2009.
“We got down early and Davies’ home run was really big for us,” said head coach Danny Hall. “Cole Pitts did a good job and hung in there and North Carolina did a good job of scratching a few runs off him. Davies gave us some life and Cruz has been good for us all year and just comes in and throws strikes and we made some really nice plays behind him.”
Freshman righty Cole Pitts gave Tech five solid innings, allowing just two runs and sophomore righty Alex Cruz fired two-hit ball over the final four scoreless innings to pick up his fourth win (4-1), and third in ACC play.
After both starters worked through three scoreless innings, the Tar Heels drew first blood when Adam Griffin singled through the left side in the fourth for a 1-0 lead. In the next at bat, Thomas Smith made a diving play on a grounder behind the second-base bag to save a run and keep the margin at 1-0.
Griffin’s RBI fielder’s choice allowed UNC to double its lead in the sixth, but with the bases loaded and one out, Cruz rolled a 6-4-3 double play off the bat of Cody Stubbs to dodge the jam.
Cruz was in control after that, retiring three straight after a lead-off single in the seventh, working around a one-out walk in the eighth and pitching a 1-2-3 ninth to seal the win. The sophomore has allowed just one run over his last 27 innings.
Johnson gave UNC 6.1 solid innings, allowing four hits and two runs but saw his chance for a win fizzle when Davies rocketed his 11th career home run – and second of the doubleheader – over the fence in right field.
Evans followed in the next at bat with his first of two doubles to knock Johnson from the game, and after lefty reliever R.C. Orlan gave up a single to Daniel Palka, UNC turned to its closer Michael Morin.
Morin got the final two outs in the seventh, but Mott Hyde led off the eighth with a single, moved to second on a sac bunt and scored with two out when Thomas ripped the go-ahead single to right field. Evans second double to the gap in left made it a 4-2 game.
“He (Thomas) just seems to find a way to come up with a big hit when we need him,” said Hall.
The six hits and two runs allowed by Morin, who entered the game with 10 saves and a 0.74 ERA, were his most allowed this season.
“We won big Friday, they won big in the first game today and we just wanted to flush it and comeback and give it 100% percent effort in the third game,” said Thomas. “We got some big hits, made some great plays on defense and got some big pitches from Cruz.”
Sam Dove finished 3-for-5 and Davies and Evans each had two hits for the Jackets, who pounded nine of their 11 hits in the final three innings. Davies extended his hitting streak to 14 games, while Thomas’ reached base streak is now at 42 games.
Tech returns to action Tuesday night versus Georgia at Turner Field in the annual Kaufmann Tire Spring Baseball Classic for Kids. First pitch is set for 7 p.m. and the game is live on FS-South. Tickets can be purchased for $12 via Ticketmaster and all proceeds benefit Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.