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Tech to Host Florida Atlantic in NCAA Baseball Super Regional

June 3, 2002

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech, which swept through last weekend’s Atlanta Regional baseball tournament without a loss, will host Florida Atlantic, winner of last weekend’s Tuscaloosa Regional, in an NCAA Super Regional this weekend at Russ Chandler Stadium in Atlanta.

Game times for the weekend series are 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and if the third game is necessary, it will be played at 1 p.m. Sunday. The winner of the best-of-three series advances to the College World Series, which begins June 14 at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb.

Tickets to the Super Regional are available through the Georgia Tech ticket office by calling 888-TECH-TIX, beginning Tuesday morning at 8 a.m. On-line order forms are available at www.ramblinwreck.com. Reserved seats are available for $12, general admission tickets for $9, and student tickets for $6.

All Tech games in the tournament will be broadcast on radio at WREK-FM (91.1). Live scoring on the internet is available at NCAAChampionships.com.

“I’m excited that we’ve been able to host a regional, and now we are hosting a super regional in the first year in our new stadium,” said Tech head coach Danny Hall, who earned his 600th career win Saturday with the Jackets’ second-round regional victory over Georgia. “We have a lot of people in the Tech family to thank for this. It’s great to have another weekend of baseball at Russ Chandler Stadium.”

The Yellow Jackets (49-14), ranked as high as ninth in the national polls, defeated Coastal Carolina, 6-0, and Georgia, 3-0 and 8-7, on its home field last weekend to advance to its second super regional in three years. Tech won the 2000 Atlanta Regional at Russ Chandler Stadium, but was swept in the super regional at home by Southern California. Tech has reached the College World Series once (1994), advancing to the championship game before falling to Oklahoma, 13-5.

The new Russ Chandler Stadium, which opened in February on the same site that the Yellow Jackets have played their baseball since 1930, has been more than kind to Tech this season. The Yellow Jackets have a 34-4 record at home, their second-best winning percentage (.895) ever in its home park and the second-best win total. Tech is 8-6 in NCAA tournament play on its home field.

Led by senior shortstop and Atlanta Regional Most Outstanding Player Victor Menocal (.360, 2 home run, 46 runs batted in), Tech has eight regulars hitting .313 or higher. The lineup includes three all-Atlantic Coast Conference position players in freshman second baseman Eric Patterson (.338-3-33, 37 stolen bases), junior catcher Tyler Parker (.314-10-56) and sophomore outfielder Matt Murton (.346-10-55).

The rest of the Tech starting lineup includes senior third baseman Matthew Boggs (.347-1-37), freshman right fielder Jeremy Slayden (.345-17-58), junior first baseman-outfielder Jason Perry (.313-11-56) and senior center fielder Wes Rynders (.386-2-25).

The Yellow Jackets’ pitching staff is led by a trio of 10-game winners in sophomore lefthander Kyle Bakker (11-2, 3.38 earned run average), who pitched a three-hit shutout over Coastal Carolina in the regional, junior righthander Jeff Watchko (11-1, 3.46, two saves), and junior righthander Brian Burks (10-6, 3.78), who defeated Georgia in the championship game of the regional. Also available as potential starters are junior righthander Chris Goodman (7-1, 4.07), who tossed 6 1/3 innings of shutout ball in Tech’s second-round regional win over Georgia, and freshman righthander Kyle Schmidt (5-2, 3.75), who did not pitch in the regional but won his only start in the ACC Tournament.

Tech is 4-8 this season against teams that have advanced to this weekend’s super regionals, and the Yellow Jackets will be meeting Florida Atlantic, from the Atlantic Sun Conference, for the first time in their history.

Common opponents between Tech and FAU include Miami (0-1), Mercer (1-2), Georgia State (1-2) and Auburn (1-0). Tech was a combined 8-1 against those teams.

The 19th-ranked Owls (46-19), defeated Auburn, 16-11, and Southeast Missouri State, 12-6, to advance to the championship game of the Tuscaloosa Regional. FAU lost the first game Sunday to host Alabama, 7-2, but rebounded to win the championship game, 6-5, over the Crimson Tide.

Florida Atlantic is batting .324 with 94 home runs as a team, with eight players batting over .300 and five with 10 or more homers. First baseman Rusty Brown (.354-11-46) and infielder Matt Pali (.354-10-43) are the leading hitters, followed by outfielders L.J. Biernbaum (.352-16-66) and Gabe Somarriba (.347-8-50) and third baseman Mike Cox (.340-18-65).

The Owls’ starting rotation includes righthanders Danny Core (10-2, 3.24) and Chris Pillsbury (10-2, 4.32) and lefthander Travis NeSmith (7-2, 4.98). Tim McNab (3-2, 2.17, 12 saves), who earned the win over Alabama in the regional, is the top reliever.

“This is a great opportunity for us,” added Hall. “Florida Atlantic is very good. Alabama had a great home record, and for Florida Atlantic to go into enemy territory and win says a lot about their team. We’ll have our hands full. But knowing we’re one step away from going back to Omaha will be great motivation for us.”

This year’s event marks the sixth NCAA regional event 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.

Tech is playing in its 19th NCAA Tournament, with a 40-36 overall record in tournament play, and has made the field 17 times in the last 18 years dating back to 1985.

NCAA ATLANTA SUPER REGIONALJune 7-9, 2002Russ Chandler Stadium, Atlanta, Ga.

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE (Best-of-three series) Friday – 7 p.m. Saturday – 7 p.m. Sunday (if necessary) – 1 p.m.

TICKETS (on sale Tuesday) Call 888-TECH-TIX or 404-894-5447 locally On-line order forms available at www.ramblinwreck.com Reserved seat — $12 General admission seat — $9 Student general admission — $6

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