March 18, 2011
ATLANTA – Junior right-hander Mark Pope allowed just three hits and one unearned run in eight innings to lead No. 21 Georgia Tech past NC State 9-2 Friday night in the opening game of the three-game ACC series.
The Yellow Jackets (15-4 overall, 4-0 ACC), who scored eight of their runs in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings, extended their winning streak to 10 games.
NC State (10-8, 1-3) saw its two-game win streak snapped and lost its third straight ACC game.
Pope, 5-0, hurled another masterpiece Friday night in front of 1,312 fans at Russ Chandler Stadium. Pope, who has allowed just one earned run in more than 38 innings this season, struck out seven batters, walked two, allowed just one extra-base hit and one unearned run. Pope has pitched 34 and one-third consecutive innings without allowing an earned run.
“I can’t say enough about him (Pope),” Hall continued. “He gives us a chance to win every time he goes out there.”
NC State scored one of its runs off Yellow Jacket reliever Luke Bard in the ninth inning.
Georgia Tech produced 13 base hits (no home runs) against five Wolfpack pitchers. Kyle Wren (4-for-6) and Jacob Esch (3-for-5), Tech’s 1-2 hitters in the lineup, combined for seven hits. Wren upped his ACC-leading batting average from .444 to .462.
For five innings it appeared that Pope and NC State starter Cory Mazzoni (1-2) were in the middle of a pitching duel. The two teams were tied 1-1 heading to the bottom of the sixth frame when the Yellow Jackets’ bats finally came to life.
Mott Hyde’s one-out, two-run double in the sixth gave Tech a 3-1 lead that it would not relinquish. The Jackets went on to add two runs in the seventh and four more runs in the eighth to secure the win.
“I knew that I would have to compete every inning with (Mazzoni) pitching for them,” Pope said. “He was really doing a good job against our hitters.”
The Yellow Jackets, who join Miami and Virginia as the only remaining teams unbeaten in ACC play, jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when Wren led off with a bunt single and later scored on a fielder’s choice.
Pope did not allow a hit until the fifth – his only shaky inning of the night — when the Wolfpack’s Brett Williams hit a one-out double, then moved to third on a single by Danny Canela, who was thrown out trying to stretch a single into a double. Williams was left stranded on third base when Pope struck out Cameron Conner to preserve the 1-0 lead.
State knotted the score 1-1 in the top of the sixth when Chris Diaz, the No. 8 hitter in the lineup, led off with a walk and eventually scored on a two-out Tech error.
Georgia Tech failed to take advantage of a golden opportunity in the bottom of the fifth. The Jackets loaded the bases with no one out but could not push a run across.
After Hyde’s double gave Tech a 3-1 lead, Sam Dove walked, chasing Mazzoni from the game. Reliever D.J. Thomas, the second of five Wolfpack pitchers, stopped the bleeding temporarily.
Tech increased its lead to 5-1 in the bottom of the seventh with a pair of bases-loaded walks. The Jackets pushed across four runs off three pitchers to take a 9-1 lead after eight innings.
The middle game of the three-game series is scheduled for Saturday at 4 p.m. The Jackets and Wolfpack finish up with a 1 p.m. game on Sunday. Sunday’s game will close out a 16-game homestand for Tech.