Bard, Cruz Combine For Two-Hit Shutout As No. 21 Tech Blanks Duke
The Yellow Jackets (18-10, 6-5) blanked consecutive ACC foes for the first time in school history
March 31, 2012
ATLANTA - ATLANTA - Luke Bard and Alex Cruz combined for a two-hit shutout as No. 21 Georgia Tech blanked Duke, 8-0, in the nightcap Saturday at Russ Chandler Stadium after Buck Farmer fired a complete-game shutout in the opener of the twinbill, a 1-0 Tech win.
For the Jackets, it marked the first time in their ACC history that they have recorded consecutive shutout of a conference opponent. Tech improved to 18-10 overall, 6-5 in the ACC, and goes for the series sweep Sunday at 1 p.m. Duke fell to 11-7, 4-7.
Bard allowed just two hits with five strikeouts in his third-consecutive start, but turned the game over to Cruz with one out in the fifth inning and the bases loaded. Cruz promptly set Reed Anthes down looking, and worked a line-out from Jeff Kremer, and the righty was untouched after that.
"We can't pitch it any better than we did today," said head coach Danny Hall. "Buck was outstanding in game one to throw all nine and was in a great pitchers' duel with Marcus Stroman. Bard gave us four--plus innings and Cruz was tremendous and pitched us out of a tough jam right out of the gate."
Cruz cruised for 4.2 innings, allowing just two bases runners -- a hit-by-pitch with two outs in the sixth and an error with two outs in the eighth. He finished with four strikeouts and picked up his first career win (1-0).
"He (Cruz) throws strikes and he pitches with pretty good rhythm," said Hall. "He uses all three pitches and I have a lot of confidence when he comes in the game he's going to throw strikes and we need to make some behind him."
The offense got the bats going early and freshman Thomas Smith stayed hot, driving in Zane Evans to put Tech on the board 1-0 in the second. Evans and Connor Lynch had RBIs in the sixth inning and the hosts broke the game open with a five-run, five-hit uprising in the seventh.
Sam Dove, who had his ACC-leading 17-game hit streak snapped in Saturday's first game, went right back to work with a 3-for-4 effort and scored twice in Saturday's second game. Smith was on base four times in the nightcap and finished 3-for-4 with two RBI.
A freshman walk-on from Ft. Pierce, Fla., Smith saw his first college action with a start at second base this past Wednesday versus Georgia Southern, and has six hits in first nine career at bats with two runs and two RBI.
"He (Smith) can't play any better than he's playing," said Hall. "I'm happy for him, I said it in the fall that the guy always got his uniform dirty and has earned everything he's gotten. He's played very well."
Duke used five pitchers in the nightcap and starter Trent Swart, who allowed five hits and three runs (two earned) in five innings was dealt the loss (3-3).
Tech had never before blanked consecutive ACC opponents... Only once in Tech's ACC history have the Jackets won two ACC games of series via shutout (April 23-25, 1993 at Clemson -- winning first game 11-0, winning second game 10-5 and winning finale 6-0)... The Jackets shutout St. John's in back-to-back games early last season at Russ Chandler Stadium (Feb. 25, 13-0 and Feb. 26, 5-0)... The last time Tech recorded shutouts in both games of a doubleheader was May 7, 1971 vs. Georgia State at Russ Chandler Stadium, both by 6-0 scores.