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The On-Tech Circle: Georgia Tech (29-20, 14-13) at No. 1 Virginia (37-9, 18-6)

May 9, 2014

By Jon Cooper
The Good Word

Pitching Matchups
Friday: Josh Heddinger, RHP (3-2, 3.70) vs. Nathan Kirby, LHP (8-1, 1.62), 6:00 p.m. (ET)
Saturday: Devin Stanton, LHP (4-3, 2.38) vs. Josh Sborz, RHP (4-3, 3.25), 4:00 p.m. (ET)
Sunday: Ben Parr, LHP (4-2, 2.86) vs. Brandon Waddell, LHP (6-2, 2.90), 12:00 p.m. (ET)

Georgia Tech concludes its ACC schedule this weekend, with a visit to Charlottesville, Va., and a three-game series against Coastal Division rival and National No. 1 Virginia. First pitch tonight at Davenport Field is at 6:00 p.m., Saturday’s game starts at 4:00 p.m. and Sunday’s finale begins at noon.

The Yellow Jackets are looking to wrap up an ACC Tournament bid — they begin the weekend percentage points behind North Carolina for sixth place in the eight-team field. Tech won its last home series last weekend against Virginia Tech, and, followed that up with a 9-6 win on Wednesday against North Florida. The Jackets scored early and often, plating two runs in three of the first four innings, in jumping out to a 9-2 after six then held off the stubborn Ospreys. Freshman right fielder Ryan Peurifoy had a career-high three hits, and catcher Mitch Earnest had a career-best four RBIs, blasting his second homer of the season, a two-run shot in the fourth, then adding a two-run double in the sixth. He also scored twice. A.J. Murray went 2-for-3 and drove in three runs, with a two-run single in the first and an RBI double off the wall in the third, and Daniel Spingola had two hits. Mott Hyde and Connor Justus added RBI singles for the Jackets. Lefty reliever Sam Clay pitched two scoreless innings, allowing only one hit to earn the win and closer Dusty Isaacs put out an eighth-inning fire to earn his fifth save of the season. Isaacs allowed two hits in his two innings, getting double plays both innings.

The Cavaliers, begin the weekend No. 1 in the nation, but in second place in the ACC’s Coastal Division, as they’re a game behind Miami. The Cavs, who had lost two of three, got back on the field after a week off for exams, and got back on track, walloping Liberty, 8-2, on Wednesday. Junior Kenny Towns went 2-for-4, and drove in three runs, with a run-scoring double in the second and a two-run single in the third. Catcher Nate Irving and first baseman Mike Papi each added two hits, drove in a run and scored a run. Senior Artie Lewicki earned the win, throwing a career-high seven innings of one-hit ball, striking out six while walking one. The Cavaliers blew out to a 7-0 lead after four innings and cruised home.

Georgia Tech and Virginia resume a series that dates back to 1924 and has been an annual series since 1980. The Yellow Jackets hold a 69-46-2 edge all-time but are 26-27 in Charlottesville and 9-11 at Davenport Field (which opened in 2002) and have lost the last three series there. The Jackets took last season’s series at Russ Chandler Stadium, but lost to the Wahoos in the ACC Tournament.

All three games of this weekend’s series can be heard on WREK 91.1 FM with Nolan Alexander and Wiley Ballard calling the action. It also can be heard on Sirius/XM, on Channel 91, with Tech’s call Friday and Sunday and Virginia’s on Saturday. The game will be streamed on, with live stats available on Gametracker on

Let’s play ball!

Last time We Met: Georgia Tech was outscored 18-9 in four games and managed as many as three runs only one time, yet split the season series. In early April, the No. 19 Yellow Jackets hosted the No. 5 Cavaliers in a weekend set and took two of three. The opener was all about Buck Farmer, who threw a complete game, allowing only one run despite being reached for 10 hits. Farmer K’d 10 and walked only one in the 2-1 victory. Catcher Zane Evans had two hits, including an RBI single in the sixth that drove in the deciding run. Leftfielder Kyle Wren scored both runs and gunned down a potential tying run at the plate in the seventh. Third baseman Sam Dove drove in the other run with a first-inning sac-fly. Evans also threw out two potential base-stealers and the defense turned a pair of double plays to snuff out rallies. Virginia evened the series on Saturday, with a 7-2 win. The Jackets had only four hits, two of them by Daniel Palka, including his ninth homer of the season. Palka drove in both Tech runs. The Cavs reached starter Dusty Isaacs for a pair of runs in the second and third and raced out to a 5-0 lead after six. In the finale, the Jackets edged the Cavs, 3-2, in a rain-shortened game. First baseman A.J. Murray broke a 1-1 tie with an RBI double in the fourth and Thomas Smith drove in Murray with a single later in the inning to stretch the lead to 3-1. Smith had scored the Jackets’ first run in the third, scoring on a double by centerfielder Brandon Thomas to tie the game. Cole Pitts earned the win, allowing two runs and two hits over 5 1/3 innings. Pitts struck out six, including the first four Cavaliers he faced. Freshman lefty Jonathan King relieved in the sixth and retired the two batters he faced to earn his first career save. The game, which was played in the rain throughout, was finally called with one out in the bottom of the sixth, giving the Jackets their first series win over the Cavs since 2008. The teams met again in the second round of the ACC Tournament, with Virginia winning, 8-2. Evans went 3-for-4 and scored a run and Wren and Smith each added two hits for the Jackets, who led 1-0 after one. The Cavs, who hit three homers on the day, broke the game open scoring a pair of runs in the fourth and three more in the sixth. Tech, which out-hit Virginia, 10-9, threatened in the fifth down 4-1, but an inning-ending 3-6-1 double play ended the thread and UVA’s tacked on three in the sixth.

Devin-stating: Saturday starter Devin Stanton has been outstanding since breaking into the rotation on March 15. He’s been much better than his W-L record indicates. Stanton will take the mound Saturday with a 4-3 ledger, despite allowing two-or-fewer runs in seven of his eight starts and only three in the other. In five starts since April the lefty is pitching to a 1.19 ERA, having allowed four earned runs in 30 1/3 innings. That includes a career-best seven innings in his last outing against Virginia Tech, when he gave up one run on six hits. With a couple of runs, Stanton’s record would be much loftier. The Jackets have scored 22 runs in his eight starts (2.75 runs per game), but 12 of those came in one appearance (April 12, vs. Florida State). That leaves him 10 runs in his other seven starts (1.4 rpg). Run support on the road has been even more sparse, as In his four road appearances he has gotten four runs, with three of those coming in one start. In his last three road starts, Stanton has allowed five runs in 15 2/3 innings (a 2.87 ERA), but is 0-3, as the Jackets have been shutout twice and scratched out one run the other time.

First Down: This series will be Georgia Tech’s second this season against the No. 1 team in the country and, if you count last year’s NCAA Tournament Regional at Vanderbilt, will be the fifth series against the National No. 1 since 2011. The Jackets are 2-2-1 and are on a three-series unbeaten streak, beating North Carolina two of three last year, splitting with Vandy (the Commodores won the Regional Championship Game) and taking the series from Florida State in an April series at Russ Chandler Stadium. In that span they’ve also seen the nation’s top team in the 2012 ACC Tournament (beating Florida State) and then in the NCAA Tournament Regional (falling to Florida). This will be the second time the Jackets face Virginia when the Cavaliers are National No. 1. UVA took two of three in an April 2011 series at the Rusty C.

Tech-nicalities: The Yellow Jackets need one win to assure themselves a .500 season in ACC play. The Jackets have had only one losing season in conference play under Head Coach Danny Hall (2012’s 12-18). Hall has had only three losing seasons in 25 years as a head coach and two of those were his first two years at Kent State (1988, ’89). A series win would allow the Jackets to pass last year’s 15-15 mark, which was only the second .500 season for Tech under Hall.

On Deck: Georgia Tech plays the rubber match with Georgia on Tuesday at Turner Field in the 12th annual Kauffman Tire Spring Baseball Classic For Kids, then wraps up its 2014 regular season hosting a weekend series against South Florida. Virginia hosts VCU on Wednesday then finishes off its 2014 regular season with a weekend visit to Wake Forest.

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