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The On-Tech Circle: No. 9 Georgia Tech (25-9, 12-3) at Wake Forest (13-21, 5-10)

April 14, 2011

The On-Tech Circle
By Jon Cooper

Friday: Mark Pope (7-1, 1.16) vs. Brian Holmes (2-1, 3.68) 6:00 p.m.
Saturday: Jed Bradley (3-1, 2.98) vs. Tim Cooney (3-2, 2.52), 4:00 p.m.
Sunday: Buck Farmer (6-1, 2.54) vs. Austin Stadler (1-6, 10.26), 1:00 p.m.

Ninth-ranked Georgia Tech will look to continue its road excellence when they travel to Winston-Salem, N.C., to battle the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest at Wake Forest Baseball Park this weekend. Games can be heard on WREK (91.1 FM) and can be followed on line at RamblinWreck.com.

Tech looks to win its fourth ACC series in five tries and stay perfect on the road in ACC series, having already swept Miami and topping Duke. The Jackets are coming off a big 5-3 win over Georgia at Russ Chandler Stadium on Tuesday night. Matt Grimes raised his record to 5-1, allowing two runs in 6 2/3 innings, while striking out a career-high 10. Daniel Palka, Sam Dove and Brandon Thomas each had two hits, with Palka blasting his team-leading seventh homer, a two-run shot.

Wake has dropped its last four ACC series and last two at home (they are 1-2 overall). They’ve had mixed results this week, winning 10-6 at UNC Greensboro on Tuesday before falling, 6-5, in 10 innings at Winthrop on Wednesday, despite a school-record five stolen bases by senior outfielder Steven Brooks.

Georgia Tech has dominated the series, holding a 65-34-1 all-time lead and has won 18 of the last 20 games between the two teams, including sweeping last season’s set at Russ Chandler Stadium.

Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech’s sweep of the Demon Deacons took a little while to get going, but after a four-hour rain delay, the Jackets took a 9-1 decision, behind Deck McGuire. McGuire threw his first career complete game and Tech’s first nine-inning complete game in almost three seasons, allowing one run and three hits, while striking out eight. Offensively, Thomas Nichols was 3-for-3 and Tony Plagman was 2-for-4 with three runs scored, while seven different Jackets drove in runs. A three-run first, with RBIs from Derek Dietrich, Chase Burnette and Matt Skole, was all McGuire would need. On Saturday, Skole and Plagman had three hits apiece, and the Jackets scored 14 unanswered runs to overcome an 8-1 fifth-inning deficit, to win, 15-8. Skole’s two-run homer sparked an eight-run rally in the sixth inning that gave the Jackets the lead for good. Jake Davies got the win in relief. In the finale, Tech spotted Wake a 4-0 lead, but rallied for two runs in the sixth and two more in the seventh to win a 6-5 squeaker. Plagman had a homer and three RBIs, Nichols also homered and Cole Leonida’s sacrifice fly provided the winning run. Buck Farmer pitched four innings of two-hit relief to secure the victory.

Grimes Filthy: Freshman Matt Grimes did something on Tuesday against Georgia that no Georgia Tech pitcher had done all season. He recorded double-figure strikeouts without walking a batter. The closest a Georgia Tech pitcher had come to a 10/0 game was Buck Farmer, who whiffed nine Miami Hurricanes without issuing a walk. Grimes, who has won his last four decisions, snapped a two-start winless streak in beating UGA, going a career-high 6 2/3 innings. He’s now 2-0 on the year against the Bulldogs, with a 2.95 ERA (4 earned runs in 12 2/3 innings).

Double Your Pleasure: Georgia Tech has been doubling like no one else in the country this season. Heading into this weekend, the Yellow Jackets have 88 two-base hits. That’s tied for the most in the nation with Georgia State. Coincidentally, Kennesaw State ranks third in the country with 82 doubles. Both GSU and KSU have played one more game than Georgia Tech. The Jackets have at least one double in 33 of 34 games and have five players with at least 10 two-baggers. Jacob Esch ranks fifth in the country with 16, five off the national lead held by Jason Krizan of Dallas Baptist.

Jewel of the Southpaw: The Yellow Jackets will be seeing plenty of left-handed pitching this weekend, as Wake Forest has nine lefties on its roster, including all three starters. That’s not necessarily bad news, as Georgia Tech is 9-5 in games started by left-handed pitchers. Tech has one lefty starter, Jed Bradley, and as many as six lefty relievers. That includes first baseman Jake Davies and outfielder Kendrick Conner.

Starting a New Streak: While Virginia’s series win over Georgia Tech may not have been considered an upset, it certainly was unusual, as it marked the Yellow Jackets’ first loss in a series in almost a year and snapped Tech’s streak of 10 straight regular-season series wins. The last time Georgia Tech had a losing weekend was April 30-May 2, 2010, when North Carolina State took two of three, at Doak Field in Raleigh.

On Deck: Georgia Tech looks to avenge a 4-2 home loss when they travel to Macon to take on Mercer on Tuesday then hosts Boston College this weekend. Wake also will seek revenge when they host Winthrop on Tuesday then travel to Clemson for a weekend series.

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