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The On-Tech Circle: No. 23 Georgia Tech (15-10, 5-4) at Pittsburgh (12-11, 4-5)

March 28, 2014

THE FLATS – Georgia Tech makes its first visit to Charles L. Cost Field to take on Coastal Division newcomer Pittsburgh in a weekend series. First pitches today and Saturday are at 3 p.m., with the series finale starting at noon.

The Yellow Jackets who broke into the top 25 by winning seven of 10 and back-to-back ACC series against ranked teams, are looking to bounce back from a 4-1 midweek loss to Mercer. Thomas Smith had two hits and reached base three times, and Daniel Spingola extended his hitting streak to 10 straight games, but the Yellow Jackets couldn’t punch across more than one run. Freshman outfielder Keenan Innis drove in Tech’s only run, with a fourth-inning ground out that tied the game at 1-1. Freshman Ben Parr took the loss but pitched five strong innings, allowing two runs (one earned) on four hits, striking out five and walking two. He threw a career-high 100 pitches, 62 for strikes.

The Panthers also have been hot but also will be bouncing back from a midweek loss. They saw their five-game winning streak, which included a sweep at home over Duke last weekend, snapped Tuesday, suffering a 6-3 loss at West Virginia in the Backyard Brawl. Trailing 4-1 in the eighth, senior right fielder Casey Roche blasted a two-run shot to cut the lead to one, but the Mountaineers answered with a pair of runs in their half to put the game away. The Panthers managed only five hits on the day. Freshman T.J. Zeuch took the loss, allowing three runs (two earned) and three hits in four innings, striking out two and walking two. He fired 35 strikes out of 58 total pitches.

Jackets fans can listen to every pitch of this inaugural series between the schools on WREK 91.1 FM with Nolan Alexander and Wiley Ballard on the call. 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: Josh Heddinger, RHP (1-1, 4.38), RHP vs. Rhys Aldenhoven, RHP (2-1, 3.60), 3 p.m. (ET)
Saturday Devin Stanton, LHP (1-0, 3.68) vs. Joseph Harvey, RHP (1-1, 3.81), 3 p.m. (ET)
Sunday: Matt Grimes, RHP (3-0, 3.57) vs. Matt Wotherspoon, RHP (2-3, 7.76), 12 p.m. (ET)

Dan Can Hit: A good leadoff hitter can get an offense rolling and Daniel Spingola as been doing just that. The junior outfielder takes a career-best 10-game hitting streak into this series, during which he’s hit .333 (15-for-45), with nine runs scored and seven more driven in. He has three multi-hit games in the streak, including a 4-for-4 day against Miami, when he scored three runs and drove in three more. That was part of a series that saw him hit .538 (7-for-13) overall. On the year, Spingola is second on the team in batting, at .323 (15th in the ACC), behind only Thomas Smith, and he is second in ACC play, at .405, behind A.J. Murray. He’s ranked among the conference leaders in runs scored (25, tied for fifth), triples (3, second) and stolen bases (8, tied for seventh). Spingola started the streak hitting seventh, where he batted .409 (9-for-22), with seven runs scored and six RBIs.

Dan Can Win, Too: No one has been more resourceful in finding ways to be around the winning run than Spingola. He’s tied for second on the team with a pair of game-winning RBIs and is tied for third in game-winning runs. He has had a role in four different game-winning plays — behind only Matt Gonzalez’s six and tied with Connor Justus — yet no two have been alike. He scored on a seventh-inning RBI single by Thomas Smith to beat ODU on Feb. 14, drove in Brandon Gold with a second-inning RBI grounder against UNCG on Feb. 21, scored on a Gold sac fly in the sixth the next day, and was forced in for the go-ahead run on an RBI hit-by-pitch opening up a four-run fourth against North Carolina. He doesn’t win the award for most bizarre game-winning play, as that goes to Gonzalez, who scored the go-ahead run on a balk in the top of the ninth in Tech’s 8-7 win at Kennesaw State.

Tech-nicalities: Despite a stretch of four losses in six games to start the month, the Yellow Jackets are assured of a winning March, as they enter the Pittsburgh series with a 10-6 record. Tech has never had a losing March in the Danny Hall era. It’s the only month in which Hall has never anything but a winning record (they head into this series 282-90 in March all-time). Should the Jackets sweep the Panthers, they can match last year’s win total. The all-time record for wins in March is 18, set in 1997.

Gettin’-On Tom: First baseman Thomas Smith’s 12-game hitting streak is still the team’s longest of the season. It’s just not the current long anymore, as Smith’s streak ended in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader at North Carolina. He recovered just fine, however, lashing two hits in Tuesday’s loss to Mercer. It was 10th multi-hit game of the season, tied for the team lead with Matt Gonzalez and the 30th of his career (only Mott Hyde has more, with 52). Smith did keep his career-best streak of 19 straight games reaching base alive in the nightcap, however. He reached twice and scored a pair of runs. The streaks have landed Smith spots in the top 10 in batting, where he enters the weekend sixth in the ACC, at .349, and ninth in on-base percentage, at .450.

On Deck: Georgia Tech hosts a midweek game against Georgia State then opens a weekend series with Duke at the Rusty C. Pittsburgh has midweek games Tuesday against West Virginia and Wednesday at Youngstown State then hosts No. 1/2 Virginia over the weekend.

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