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The On-Tech Circle: Georgia Tech (9-7, 1-2) vs. No. 22 Miami (10-7, 3-0)

March 13, 2014

By Jon Cooper
The Good Word

– Georgia Tech ends its second seven-game homestand of the season with a weekend series against ACC Coastal Division leader Miami. First pitch tonight is at 7 p.m., Saturday night’s game begins at 7:30 p.m. and the series finale starts at 1 p.m.

The Yellow Jackets come in having won back-to-back games and will look to notch its third three-game winning streak of the season on Friday. Tech salvaged the finale of last weekend’s set against Wake Forest, winning 5-1 on Sunday, then, on Tuesday, after spotting Western Carolina four runs in the first inning, scored seven unanswered runs and held off the Catamounts, 7-5. Down 4-0, the Jackets got a run back in their half of the first and put up a five spot in the second to take the lead for good. First baseman Thomas Smith went 2-for-3, including a first-inning RBI double, and DH A.J. Murray and second baseman Mott Hyde homered, with Murray’s blast kick-starting the five-run second. Hyde’s seventh-inning shot gave the Jackets an important insurance run. Devin Stanton threw 4 1/3 innings of one-hit shutout relief to earn the win, with fellow lefty Sam Clay earning the save, slamming the door with 1 2/3 shutout innings. Hyde also walked three times and scored three runs, and freshmen Ryan Peurifoy and Connor Justus each added two hits.

The Hurricanes are looking to put a happy ending on what has been a tough week. They came in on a five-game winning streak, but dropped back-to-back midweek games on Tuesday and Wednesday to Bethune-Cookman then at Stetson, by identical 7-3 scores. On Tuesday, senior right-hander Javi Salas, who had thrown the second perfect game in Miami program history in his previous start — surrendered six first-inning runs. Miami would pull to within 6-3 in the fifth, but got no closer. Third baseman Brad Fieger drove in two runs for the `Canes, and centerfielder Dale Carey and infielder Alex Hernandez each had two hits. The next night, Miami overcame a second-inning 3-0 deficit, tying the game in the seventh, but allowed the Hatters to score four runs in the bottom half of the inning in the loss. Fieger drove in a pair of runs for the second straight game and was one of four `Canes with a two-hit night, as Miami out-hit Stetson, 11-10.

The Georgia Tech-Miami series dates back to 1958, with the Jackets 32-51-2 overall and 14-20 at Russ Chandler Stadium. The schools have split the last 10 games, with the Hurricanes taking last year’s series, 2-1, in Coral Gables. Tech has won five of the nine series since the schools first met as ACC rivals in 2005, but has lost the last two.

Jackets fans can watch the entire series on ESPN3 with Richard Musterer and Roddy Jones calling the action Friday and Sunday. Saturday night’s game also will be televised on CSS, with Matt Stewart and Randy Carroll calling the action. Listen to every pitch on WREK 91.1 FM, with Nolan Alexander and Wiley Ballard at the mike. The games will also be streamed on RamblinWreck.com. Live stats are available on Gametracker, also on RamblinWreck.com.

Let’s play ball!

Pitching Matchups
Friday: TBA vs. Chris Diaz, LHP (4-0, 2.05), 7:00 p.m. (ET)
Saturday: TBA vs. Bryan Radziewski, LHP (1-2, 2.86), 7:30 p.m. (ET)
Sunday: Matt Grimes, RHP (1-0, 1.17) vs. Andrew Suarez, LHP (2-1, 4.12), 1:00 p.m. (ET)

Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech and Miami closed the 2013 regular season at Mark Light Stadium, May 16-18. The Yellow Jackets lost two of the three games, but the still finished ahead of the Hurricanes, clinching the seventh spot in the ACC Tournament. In the opener, Miami raced out to a 5-0 lead after three on its way to an 8-3 win. The Hurricanes jumped on starter Buck Farmer for two runs in the first, then added three in the third. Mott Hyde and Zane Evans both had two-hits for the Jackets, with Evans getting Tech on the board with an RBI single in the sixth and Hyde blasting a two-run homer in the seventh. On Saturday, Miami again came out fast, plating four runs in both the first and second innings off starter Dusty Isaacs in an 11-7 win. Daniel Palka went 2-for-4, with two runs scored, including his 16th homer of the year, A.J. Murray added two hits, and seven different Jackets drove in runs. Trailing 11-3 entering the ninth, Tech kept battling, sending up nine hitters, pulling within four and forcing the `Canes to call on closer Eric Nedeljkovic to close the game out. In the finale, freshman Jonathan King threw six shutout innings, allowing three hits, while the Jackets blasted four homers in a 10-1 laugher. Palka, Mott Hyde, Thomas Smith and Mitch Earnest all went deep for Tech, with Hyde, Earnest and Palka going yard in the five-run fifth that put the game away. Brandon Thomas had two hits, including a two-run single that gave Tech a 2-0 lead in the third. Zane Evans, who pitched two innings of scoreless relief after King, added an RBI single in the inning.

Grimes and Punishment: Redshirt junior right-hander Matt Grimes continues to get stronger and has worked his way back into the weekend rotation. Grimes, who sat out the end of 2012 and all of 2013 after undergoing Tommy John surgery, has extended his innings in each of his four appearances this season In his last two times out he’s gone more than four innings, earning wins in long-relief March 2 against Bowling Green then as a starter last Sunday vs. Wake Forest, his first start since March 17, 2012 vs. Virginia Tech. He’s been overpowering in those two appearances, allowing only one earned run and three hits in 9 2/3 innings, striking out six and walking three. He has shown impeccable control throwing 66.4 percent of his pitches for strikes (81 of 122).

Giving Devin His Due: Redshirt junior lefty Devin Stanton’s win in relief on Tuesday night continues his rewarding journey back from Tommy John surgery and return to an important contributor out of the bullpen. Stanton threw 4 1/3 innings, allowing one hit and striking out five of the 15 batters he faced. Stanton pounded the strike zone, throwing 40 of his 59 pitches for strikes. The win was his first since March 26, 2011 at Miami. That performance was a lot shorter than Tuesday’s but also a lot higher-pressure, as he came in with the winning run on third in the bottom of the ninth. Stanton threw ball one to Chantz Mack then struck him out on three pitches. Tuesday’s appearance was easily the longest of Stanton’s career and the second straight appearance in which he went a career-long. He went 1 2/3 on March 1 against Bowling Green, then hurled 3.0 innings Friday night against Wake Forest. Coming into the 2014 season, Stanton had never pitched longer than one inning in an appearance. He’s already pitched 21.0 innings in 2014 — 11 more than he coming into the year.

Tech-nicalities: Senior Mott Hyde has had his power stroke going in his four years against Miami. Four of his 19 career home runs have come at the expense of Hurricanes pitchers. That’s the most against any opponent and constitutes nearly a third of his 13 career round-trippers against ACC competition. Hyde’s first career homer was a three-run shot vs. Miami as part of a nine-run top of the 10th on March 26, 2011.

On Deck: Georgia Tech and Miami both have busy weeks ahead. Tech has mid-week road games at Kennesaw State on Tuesday and Georgia State on Wednesday (first pitch both games is at 6 p.m.) then opens its ACC road schedule in Chapel Hill with a weekend series at North Carolina. Miami hosts Central Florida on Tuesday (first pitch 6 p.m.) and visits Florida Gulf Coast on Wednesday (first pitch 6:30 p.m.) before hosting Virginia Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

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