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The On-Tech Circle: Georgia Tech (7-4) at Georgia (5-6)

March 3, 2014

By Jon Cooper
The Good Word

Pitching Matchup
Alex Cruz, RHP (0-0, 0.00) vs. Robert Tyler, RHP (1-0, 1.74), 7:00 p.m. (ET)

Winners of six of seven, Georgia Tech travels to Foley Field to play the first of three mid-week games with rival Georgia. First pitch is at 7:00 p.m.

The Yellow Jackets recorded their second straight weekend sweep, taking out Bowling Green. Friday night, the Jackets got a career-high 7 1/3 innings from Jonathan King and Matt Gonzalez capped a three-run third inning with a two-run single as Tech won the opener, 3-2. Trailing 2-0, the Jackets got on the board via a bases-loaded walk from freshman Ryan Peurifoy. Gonzalez’s single followed. That was enough for King and the Jackets, who turned four double plays in the victory.

On Saturday, Tech again spotted the Falcons two runs before using a pair of four-run innings to win, 8-3. Centerfielder Daniel Spingola hit his first homer of the year, scored two runs and drove in two runs, and shortstop Elliott Barzilli added a two-run single in the decisive four-run third. Second baseman Mott Hyde had his second straight multi-hit game and Mitch Earnest also had two hits, including the first triple of his first career, which drove in a run in the four-run eighth. Spingola followed with a two-run shot. Cole Pitts threw four scoreless innings after a two-run first to get the win.

In the finale, the Jackets came from behind for the third straight game, to beat BGSU, 8-5. Hyde’s bases-clearing triple capped a four-run second to overcome a 3-1 deficit and give Tech the lead for good. First baseman Thomas Smith scored three runs, while Hyde and Spingola each scored two. Senior Matt Grimes threw 4 2/3 innings of one-hit, scoreless relief for starter Josh Heddinger and Jonathan Roberts closed the sweep with a scoreless ninth. The third inning prove golden for the Jackets, who outscored BGSU 8-0 in the frame, twice scoring the winning run in the inning.

The Bulldogs have won four of their last five games, including sweeping Binghamton over the weekend. UGA got tremendous pitching, allowing seven runs in the series. Georgia rallied from 3-1 down to tie the game in the ninth inning then won the game in the 11th to win the opener, 4-3. Nelson Ward had an RBI single in the ninth to pull UGA to within 3-2, then hit the game-winning RBI double in the 11th. On Saturday, the Dawgs trailed 1-0 and 2-1 but used a four-run fourth then pulled away. Three pitchers threw five shutout innings, allowing four hits as the home team rallied. First baseman Daniel Nichols’ RBI single and right fielder Conor Welton’s two-run knock highlighted the fourth-inning uprising. Georgia completed the sweep Sunday, blowing out to a 7-0 lead after three en route to a 9-2 conquest. UGA jumped out to a 3-0 lead after one, scoring three runs on only one hit, getting three walks and two hit-batsmen. They added three more in the second, keyed by an error and another hit batter. Nichols and catcher Brandon Stephens each had RBI singles. Stephens and DH Zach Bowers each had two RBIs for the Bulldogs. Starter Patrick Boling threw seven shutout innings, allowing six hits to get the win. Georgia starting pitching was stingy all weekend, allowing two runs and 16 hits in 17 innings.

Tonight’s game will be the 360th meeting in the series that dates back to 1898. Georgia holds a 200-157 edge (there have been two ties), including winning the series last year for the first time since 2008. The Jackets haven’t fared well overall in Athens, trailing, 112-54, all-time, but they have won four of the last five meetings at Foley Field.

Jackets fans can watch the game on CSS in Atlanta or on-line on ESPN3 with Matt Stewart and Rusty Ensor on the call. Of course, they can hear every pitch on WREK 91.1 FM, withNolan Alexander and Wade Rogers doing the honors. The game will also be streamed on RamblinWreck.com. Live stats are available on Gametracker, also on RamblinWreck.com.

Let’s play ball!

Last Time We Met (in Athens)… – Zane Evans was too much for Georgia, as the 19th-ranked Yellow Jackets toppled Georgia, 7-5, on April 19, 2013. The junior catcher had two hits, three RBIs and pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to slam the door as the Jackets beat the Bulldogs for the third straight time and the ninth win in 12 meetings. Senior outfielder Brandon Thomas returned to the starting lineup in style, with two hits and two RBIs. Thomas hit a two-run double and Evans followed with an RBI single in the decisive three-run fifth inning that turned a 4-2 deficit into a 5-4 lead. Sam Dove’s bases-loaded walk in the sixth extended the lead to 6-4. Then the defense took over. The Jackets turned a pretty 6-4-3 double play to preserve the two-run lead through six, then Alex Cruz, who allowed one run and two hits in 2 2/3 innings, pitched out of a bases-loaded-no-outs jam in the seventh, limiting the Bulldogs to one run and keeping the game at 6-5.  Gonzalez’s RBI double in the ninth regained a two-run lead for Tech and set up Evans’ perfect inning, in which he struck out a pair, to earn his third save. Josh Heddinger allowed 1 2/3 innings of one-run, one-hit ball in relief of starter Jonathan King to get the win.

Smokin’ Mott!: Senior Mott Hyde has overcome his 1-for-19 start to the season and has heated up in a big way. Hyde, who comes into the game hitting .250, carries a five-game hitting streak into tonight’s game and is coming off a weekend that saw him hit .500 (6-for-12), with three runs scored and four RBIs. During his five-game streak, Hyde is batting .455 (10-for-22), with five runs and seven RBIs. He’ll make his last visit to Athens tonight, where he’s hoping to continue wielding a hot bat. Foley Field hasn’t been kind to Hyde, who is 0-for-8, with three strikeouts for his career. He has three walks, three runs scored and one RBI.

The Comeback Kids: It may sound cliché, but Georgia Tech really does play all 27 outs and certainly isn’t fazed by being behind. The Yellow Jackets trailed in two of the three games over the weekend, and overcame a pair of deficits against Kennesaw State, before falling, 5-3, in 12 innings. They also came back from a pair of deficits to beat Old Dominion in the opener. Playing from behind actually has worked well for the Jackets, who are 3-1 when opponents score first. They’re only 4-3 when scoring the game’ first run.

Tech-nicalities: The Yellow Jackets haven’t lost three straight games in the series since 2008, also the last time they lost back-to-back games at Foley Field. Those back-to-back losses came in that year’s NCAA Regional. In the five visits since those back-to-back losses the Jackets are 4-1 and have scored 57 runs, an average of 11.4 per game.

On Deck: Georgia Tech opens its ACC schedule and begins a seven-game homestand this weekend, hosting Wake Forest. Georgia continues its 16-game homestand, hosting Charleston Southern Wednesday night then Buffalo, North Florida and Western Carolina in this weekend’s Georgia Bulldog Invitational.

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