June 3, 2011
ATLANTA – The Georgia Tech baseball team (40-20) dropped its NCAA Tournament opener 2-1 to Austin Peay (34-22) Friday night at Russ Chandler Stadium in both teams’ first game of the Atlanta Regional.
The difference in the game came on one swing by Austin Peay’s Jordan Hankins in the top of the seventh, a home run to right center off of Tech reliever Matthew Grimes.
“It was definitely a tough loss tonight,” Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall said. “I can’t say enough great things about Matthew [Grimes], he was pushed in during the middle of the game and he was outstanding. It’s disappointing he didn’t come out with the win.”
Grimes entered the game after Tech starter Mark Pope left the game after an inning and two-thirds with a back injury. Grimes went six and two-thirds, allowing just three hits, but a pair of earned runs and striking out eight. The freshman fell to 7-4 on the season despite the stellar performance.
Hall said after the game that Pope tweaked his back during a routine throwing session he does every Thursday before Friday starts.
Tech, the regional’s No. 1 seed, will face Southern Mississippi Saturday at 3 p.m. in an elimination game. Austin Peay, the No. 4 seed, will take on Mississippi State Saturday at 7 p.m. in the winner’s bracket game.
Both pitching staffs were able to keep the opposing offense off balance, allowing a total of only 11 combined hits and three runs. The Governors’ trotted out 6-8 senior lefty Jack Snodgrass, who went seven innings, scattering seven Jacket hits, and only allowing one Tech run. Snodgrass was the beneficiary of a pair of Yellow Jacket double plays as he improved to 4-6 on the campaign.
The Yellow Jackets had multiple early opportunities but couldn’t capitalize. In the home half of the second inning Sam Dove laced a double past a diving Governor third baseman and down the left field line. Evan Martin reached on an infield single, advancing Dove to third with two outs. Batting from the No. 9 spot of the lineup, Brandon Thomas put a charge into one, but Austin Peay centerfielder Michael Blanchard was able to get under the ball just in front of the warning track, leaving the Jackets scoreless.
The Jackets threatened again in the third with the top of the order up. Kyle Wren walked but was out as Jacob Esch hit a chopper over the pitcher’s head. Esch advanced to second when Matt Skole caught a Jack Snodgrass offering on the arm. The Yellow Jacket threat came to an end when Jake Davies grounded into a 3-6-1 double play.
Austin Peay landed the first blow of the night in the fourth inning. John Hogan ripped a liner over a leaping Davies at first and into the right field corner for his 12th double of the year. He advanced to third on a Reed Harper single to right and scored on a Matt Wollenzin sacrifice fly to center.
The Yellow Jackets matched the Governors’ one run when Tech took to the plate in the bottom of the fourth. Zane Evans singled through the right side of the infield and advanced on a Dove single to right. Martin flied out to the right field corner, allowing Evans to advance to third. Brandon Thomas looped a single over the shortstop into leftfield, driving in Evans to tie the game.
Tech moved runners into scoring position in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, but couldn’t bring any across the plate.
“We had a lot of opportunities to score and we just didn’t get the hit we needed to score,” Hall said. “That’s pretty deflating when you get those opportunities and just don’t do it. They turned a couple double plays and when you’re trying to score that hurts.”
Coverage of Saturday game will include live TV on CSS, radio on WREK 91.11 and WREK.com. Fans can also follow Tech baseball on Twitter, @GT_Baseball, and an interactive live blog on RamblinWreck.com.