April 8, 2008
ATLANTA – No. 10 Georgia Tech (25-7, 9-6 ACC) returns to Atlanta to host in-state rival and 11th-ranked Georgia (20-10, 9-3 SEC) in what will be the first of three meetings between the Yellow Jackets and Bulldogs in 2008. Tech and Georgia square off Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in a regionally-televised game at Russ Chandler Stadium. Despite dropping an ACC series to third-ranked North Carolina over the weekend, the Yellow Jackets have won eight of their last 10 games, while the Bulldogs enter the week on a seven-game winning streak after a sweep of South Carolina last weekend. Georgia will host Winthrop Tuesday before traveling to Atlanta.
Game Coverage: The game can be seen live on SportSouth, with Wes Durham and former Tech great Randy Carroll calling the action, while WREK Radio will broadcast the game on 91.1 FM in Atlanta and www.wrek.org. Live stats for all Georgia Tech baseball games are available at Ramblinwreck.com.
The Yellow Jacket pitching corps is holding opponents to a .241 batting average, as eight different pitchers have earned wins in 2008. Closer Chris Hicks has collected a team-best eight saves for the Yellow Jackets and relievers Brad Rulon and Andrew Robinson have combined for 24 scoreless appearances in relief this season.
Pitching Matchup (Georgia Tech vs. Georgia)
Wednesday: RHP Deck McGuire (4-0, 3.00) vs. LHP Alex McRee (5-1, 3.42)
Georgia Tech’s offense is led by freshman leadoff hitter and CF Jeff Rowland (.347, 2 HR, 12 RBI, 12 SB), freshman SS Derek Dietrich (.336-10-33-3), redshirt junior RF Charlie Blackmon (.339-3-22-11) and junior DH/RF Luke Murton (.325-2-18-3).
The Teams of Late
Georgia Tech – Despite dropping two of three at No. 3 North Carolina in a rain-soaked weekend, the Yellow Jackets enter the week on a hot streak, winning eight of their last 10 games, and 12 of their last 15. Tech fell, 8-1, in the series opener against the Tar Heels at the USA Baseball National Training Complex and was delayed by a day before concluding the series with a doubleheader on Sunday. The Jackets lost the first game of the doubleheader, 10-4, but key pitching by sophomore starter Zach Von Tersch helped Tech avoid the sweep, winning 4-1 Sunday afternoon. Luke Murton hit .455 with three RBI and Charlie Blackmon went 6-for-14 (.429) with a home run and two RBI to highlight Tech’s offense against the Tar Heels over the weekend. Michael Hutts and Chris Hicks joined Von Tersch with excellent performances on the mound, as Hutts made two scoreless appearances, holding UNC hitters to one hit while striking out two and walking none in three innings, while Hicks tossed a scoreless ninth inning in the series finale to pick up his eighth save of the 2008 season.
Georgia – The Bulldogs enter the week riding a seven-game winning streak, with their last loss coming in an SEC series opener at Mississippi State nearly two weeks ago. Georgia will host Winthrop for a single game Tuesday at 5 p.m. before driving to Atlanta Wednesday afternoon. The Bulldogs are led by one of the nation’s top hitters in shortstop Gordon Beckham (.419-15-36-10), while relief pitcher Joshua Fields has anchored the Georgia pitching staff, recording eight saves in 16 appearances without allowing an earned run in 2008.
Tech vs. the Opponent (Georgia leads, 192-147-2)
The Bulldogs hold a 192-147-2 lead over the Yellow Jackets in a series that dates to the 1898 season. Georgia Tech has played the University of Georgia more than any other opponent in baseball history, and the two teams will be meeting for the 342nd time in history Wednesday night.
Each team holds the upper-hand on their home field, as Georgia Tech is 85-68-1 against the Bulldogs in games played on the Jackets’ home field, and just 50-109 in games played in Athens.
Tech and Georgia have squared off 52 times since the arrival of head coach Danny Hall in 1994, with the Yellow Jackets holding the 29-23 edge in the series under the Tech skipper.
The two teams last met on May 9, 2007, with Georgia pulling out a 9-4 victory over the Jackets in Athens. The Bulldogs also won the game played at Turner Field, 10-7, in late April, but failed to sweep the series as Georgia Tech won the first game, 8-2, at Russ Chandler Stadium.
Georgia has won the three-game regular season series (home-and-home plus one game played at Turner Field) each of the last two years, but hasn’t won a game at Russ Chandler Stadium since the 2004 season.
Georgia Tech vs. In-State Opponents
Georgia Tech went 5-6 against teams from the state of Georgia in 2007 but has won the first seven games of the season against Georgia Southern, Kennesaw State, Georgia State and Mercer to start 7-0 against state of Georgia opponents this season. Tech still has six games remaining on its schedule against Georgia teams this season, including Wednesday’s contest against the University of Georgia.
Since 1999, the Yellow Jackets own an 84-26 (.764) record against its in-state foes. In 15 years under head coach Danny Hall, Tech is 127-43 (.747) against teams from Georgia.
Yellow Jackets in the RPI
Georgia Tech enters the week ranked No. 14 in the nation in the RPI (source: BoydsWorld.com).
The Atlantic Coast Conference is well represented in the RPI, with six teams ranked among the top 25 in the nation. Florida State leads all conference teams, standing at No. 1 in the RPI, while Miami (2) and North Carolina (4) join the Seminoles in the top-five and NC State (12), Georgia Tech and Clemson (21) appear in the top-25.
Two of the Yellow Jackets’ 2008 non-conference opponents also appear in the top-25 of the RPI – Georgia (16) and Coastal Carolina (22).
Georgia Tech is scheduled to play no fewer than 18 games against teams that currently appear in the top-25 in the RPI this season, with eight of those contests coming on the road.
In terms of schedule strength, Georgia Tech is ranked No. 30 while Georgia’s schedule stands at No. 29 in the latest rankings.
Updated Game Times
– The Jackets’ Sunday game at Maryland (Apr. 20) has been pushed up 30 minutes to accomodate TV – First pitch will now be at 12:30 p.m. and the game will be aired by CSTV.
– Another game time that has changed because of TV is the Saturday game vs. Coastal Carolina on May 3. First pitch for that game is now scheduled for 4 p.m.
Rulon Nearing Century Mark
Yellow Jacket senior right-hander Brad Rulon continues his climb up several Georgia Tech career records this season. He currently stands 12th in the record books with a .786 winning percentage, seventh with 9.91 strikeouts per 9 IP and tied for 12th with seven career saves.
Columbus, Ga. native is also just one appearance shy of No. 100 in his career, as he has appeared in 99 games in his four-year career on the Flats, which stands sixth in the Georgia Tech career annals.
Home, Sweet Home
Georgia Tech is 19-2 within the friendly confines of Russ Chandler Stadium in 2008, and 6-5 in games away from home. The Yellow Jackets have won 14 of their last 15 home games following a midweek sweep of East Tennessee State after opening the season by winning their first five at Russ Chandler Stadium.
Both Tech’s hitters and pitchers enjoy playing at home, as the Jackets are batting .298 and scoring 6.9 runs while hitting 1.5 home runs per game at home vs. a .264 average, six runs, and 0.8 home runs per game on the road. The pitching staff has a remarkable 2.53 ERA and has held opponents to a .224 average at RCS, but the pitchers’ ERA is at 5.32 and opponents are batting .274 against them on the road.