Bard, Palka Lift No. 20 Jackets To 9-1 Win Over Hokies, Take Series
March 18, 2012
ATLANTA - Sophomore Daniel Palka homered for the third-straight game with a three-run bomb in the first inning and No. 20 Georgia Tech never trailed in a 9-1 win over Virginia Tech Sunday at Russ Chandler Stadium to clinch the weekend ACC series.
Palka finished 2-for-3 with a home run, three RBI and scored twice, while sophomore Zane Evans went 3-for-4 with an RBI and two runs as the Yellow Jackets (14-6, 3-3) pounded out 13 hits and won for the 26th time over the last three years in the third game of a series (26-6).
"Anytime you get beat on Saturday, four runs early on Sunday makes it a much easier task to try and win," said head coach Danny Hall.
Junior RHP Luke Bard, who has held down Tech's closer roll for the early part of the season, got the start and fired five effective innings, allowing just five hits, a run, no walks and one strikeout to pick up his third career win and first this season (1-0).
"He's too valuable of an arm for us not to use him," said Hall. "Coach Kinkelaar really wanted him to start and we ended up doing it. He got through five innings today and I thought he threw the ball really well."
Bard was staked to the early lead thanks to Palka's three-run blast - part of a four-run, five-hit first inning - and the Jackets never looked back. Aiding Bard's effort was Evans' arm behind the plate as the sophomore, who is on the watch list for the Johnny Bench Award, gunned down two steal attempts in the game and three for the weekend.
"My goal wasn't to walk anybody today, and I don't think I did," said Bard. "I was not trying to strike guys out. I just wanted to go in there and challenge them, force contact and get outs when I could."
The Hokies (15-6, 2-4) got a run in the second thanks to an RBI double from Alex Perez - an inning that visitors collected three of their five hits.
Kyle Wren made it a 5-1 game in the fourth inning with a solo home run to right-field -- the second career blast for the sophomore, and the Gold and White busted the game wide open with another four-run frame in the seventh, getting a two-run double from Sam Dove and a two-run single from Paul Kronenfeld.
Dove's double extended his hitting streak to 11 games, while Kronenfeld finished 2-for-4 to cap a red-hot week in which the sophomore right fielder went 8-for-12 with a double, a home run, eight RBI and two runs in four games (three starts).
Chad Pinder had two of the Hokies six hits and starter Marc Zecchino absorbed the loss (2-2), giving up 11 hits and seven runs (six earned) in six innings.
After going 3-1 and scoring 45 runs in a four-game home stand this week, the Yellow Jackets hit the road all next week. Tech is in Athens Tuesday night for a 7 p.m. tilt versus Georgia on CSS and then head to Boston College for an ACC series.
With the earned run allowed by Bard with two outs in the second inning, it snapped his streak of not allowing an earned run at 26.2 innings, spanning 15-consecutive appearances dating back to April 24, 2011... Over the last three years, Tech is now 41-16-1 following an in-season loss and 9-5-1 in the rubber game of an ACC series... Tech also improved to 10-1 this season when scoring first and 7-0 when scoring in the first inning... The 11-game hitting streak by junior Sam Dove matches his career-long, set last season... Junior Brandon Thomas and sophomore Kyle Wren have reached base in all 20 games this season, while Dove's reached-base streak is at 19 games.