Feb. 22, 2012
STATESBORO, Ga. – Zane Evans was Mr. Everything for No. 10 Georgia Tech Wednesday night. The reigning Freshman All-America catcher caught seven innings, launched the go-ahead three-run homer in the eighth and pitched an inning of late-game relief as the Yellow Jackets survived a see-saw battle at No. 30 Georgia Southern, 11-9.
Deadlocked at 8-8 in the eighth – the game’s fourth different tie – Evans stepped to the plate and launched a three-run shot over the fence in left to put the Yellow Jackets (4-1) on top for good and silence the record crowd of 3,258 at GSU (3-1).
The sophomore then worked the bottom of the eighth on the mound, yielded a run, but got an inning-ending strikeout of T.D. Davis – the potential tying run.
Junior reliever Luke Bard maneuvered around a lead-off walk in the ninth and rolled a game-ending double play to pick up his first save of the season and seal the first career victory for freshman reliever Josh Heddinger. The rookie righty fired a 1-2-3 seventh inning in his collegiate debut.
“We hung in there and battled, but we walked too many guys tonight and that got us in trouble and gave them some opportunities to score, said head coach Danny Hall, who moved to within nine wins of eclipsing the 1,000th in his career. “I felt like our guys battled tonight and had some really good at bats. Zane had the big home run, made some big pitches when we needed him in the eighth and Bard did a great job in the ninth.”
It’s the fourth-straight win for Tech this season and upped the Jackets’ lead in the all-time series with Georgia Southern to 90-28.
Junior preseason All-America Brandon Thomas was 3-for-4, matched his career-high of four RBI and his three-run blast in the third inning put Tech up 3-1. Thomas’ homer triggered the back-and-forth battle that saw the lead change hands four times. Kyle Wren, Daniel Palka, Evans and Chase Butler each had two of Tech’s season-high 13 hits. Evans’ four RBI were a career high.
The game was back and forth early, with GSU jumping up 1-0 in the first, Tech coming back with three in the third, the Eagles answering with four in the bottom half and the Jackets stinging back with a five-spot in the fourth.
The game saw 13 different pitchers work and Chris Myers was tagged the loss for the Eagles. Eric Phillips was 2-for-4 with four RBI, while preseason All-America Victor Roache was held in check, finishing 0-for-3 and grounding into two of three double plays turned by the visitors.
“He (Roache) is a great hitter and you’d like to have him at the plate with nobody on, but that wasn’t the case tonight,” said Hall. “And Phillips is a good player. He’s hurt us before and he got them back in the game tonight.”
Tech returns to action Friday, opening a three-game series versus Ohio State at Russ Chandler Stadium. First pitch is set for 4 p.m. Following Saturday’s 2 p.m. game, a free-to-public “Meet The Jackets” event is scheduled with autographs and ballpark tours available.
For tickets, call 1-888-TECH-TIX or visit ramblinwreck.com/tickets.