On-Tech Circle: @GTBaseball vs. UMBC

Matt Gonzalez and the Jackets host UMBC this weekend
Feb. 26, 2016


By Jon Cooper | The Good Word

The 17th-ranked Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets look to extend their perfect start to the 2016 season when they host UMBC Retrievers (1-3) of the America East Conference in a three-game series this weekend. The series kicks off a seven-game homestand. First pitch Friday is at 4 p.m., Saturday's game starts at 2 p.m. and Sunday's finale begins at 1 p.m.

The Jackets were down to their last out on Wednesday night at Georgia Southern, but took advantage of a GSU error to tie the game then pulled out a dramatic 6-5 victory in 16 innings. Brandon Gold’s 3-run homer in the top of the 16th gave Tech its first lead of the night, then Jake Lee held off the Eagles, leaving the tying run at second in the bottom half. Freshman Keyton Gibson earned his career first win, going two innings of shutout one-hit ball, with Lee picking up his first save. The Jackets trailed 3-1 after six but cut the deficit in half on Kel Johnson’s groundout in the 7th. In the ninth Ryan Peurifoy reached on a two-out error then came all the way around on an ensuing RBI double by Matt Gonzalez. Gonzalez’s homer in the fourth inning had tied the game at 1-1. The bullpens then settled in throwing zeroes until the 16th. Gonzalez and Gold both had two hits for the Jackets, who were out-hit, 12-7. Tech pitchers stranded 11 runners, while the Jackets left eight on base.

The Retrievers, picked for second place in the America East preseason poll, have been off since Sunday, when they lost to Georgetown, 6-5, in 10 innings in the final game of a four-game season-opening series at Couch Ballpark in Winston Salem, N.C. UMBC built up a 5-0 lead after five but committed four errors over the final five innings, resulting in all six Hoyas runs. The miscues resulted in two runs in the eighth, the game-tying run in the ninth and the game-winner in the 10th. An error in the sixth also opened the door to two runs that got Georgetown back in the game. The fielding overshadowed multi-hit days by left fielder Nick Naumann and center fielder Andrew Casali, a two-run double by right fielder Tim Kelly and a homer by first baseman Jamie Switalski and a solid start by redshirt-junior righty Riley Stephenson (5 ⅓ innings, four hits, two unearned runs), who will start Sunday. The loss was UMBC’s three straight, with the last two coming by a total of three runs. Three of their four games have been decided by two-or-fewer runs.

All three games this weekend can be heard on on WREK 91.1 FM. The game will be streamed onRamblinWreck.com and live stats are available on Gametracker.

LET'S PLAY BALL!

PITCHING MATCHUPS
Friday: Brandon Gold, RHP (0-0, 0.00) vs. Conrad Wozniak, RHP (1-0, 4.50 ERA), 4 p.m.
Saturday: Jonathan King, LHP (1-0, 0.00) vs. Matt Chanin, RHP (0-1, 15.75 ERA), 2 p.m.
Sunday: Jonathan Hughes, RHP (1-0, 0.00) vs. Riley Stephenson, RHP (0-0, 0.00), 1p.m.

For the Record: This will be the first meeting between the schools.

Seventh Heaven: Georgia Tech has gotten tremendous production from its corps of freshmen arms as through its first four games, seven first-year players have combined to record three wins and a save. The septet features Sunday starter Jonathan Hughes, who is 1-0, Keyton Gibson, who won on Wednesday at Georgia Southern, Jake Lee, who saved Wednesday’s game for Gibson, Burton Dulaney, who won the season opener, Micah Carpenter, Bobby Gauvreau and Robert Winborne, who have been almost perfect. The seven pitchers have combined to allow two earned runs (five overall) in 24 innings (a 0.75 ERA), on 15 hits, striking out 16, while walking only four. Hitters are batting a combined .179 (15-for-84) against them.

Home Run (The) Range: The long ball has been a big part of Georgia Tech’s success thus far in 2016. The Jackets have hit five bombs on the season, at least one in each game and have gotten them from a variety of sources. The bombardment started in the opener when Trevor Craport hit his first career blast, a game-winning no-doubter to left-center field. Kel Johnson unloaded in the next game against Western Michigan and Arden Pabst got his first of the year in the season’s third game against VCU. On Wednesday, the Jackets got a pair of goners, a game-tying blast from Matt Gonzalez in the fourth inning and what proved to be the game-winner in the 16th from Brandon Gold. Tech hit a total of 42 homers last season.

Tech-nicalities: Matt Gonzalez blasted his 10 career homer on Wednesday at Georgia Southern. A homer by Gonzalez is an especially good sign -- a “Gonzo-men” if you will. The Yellow Jackets are 8-2 when he goes deep and are riding a six-game winning streak.

There’s a Catch...: Defense is going to play a big role in this weekend’s series and while the two teams have similarities in their fielding -- both have committed seven errors and are coming off rather loose defensive games, with GT making three errors against GSU, UMBC had four against Georgetown -- there is a difference. The Jackets have been able to overcome the errors with their ability to turn the double play. GT has seven twin-killings in its four games while UMBC has three. Turning two has become something of a trademark for Georgia Tech, as over the last five years they have 256 DPs, the second-most in the nation behind only Mississippi State (268). Extra outs has hurt UMBC of late, as it allowed more unearned runs in its last two games (nine of the 16 total) than Tech has allowed all season (eight, four of those unearned).

On Deck: Georgia Tech continues its seven-game homestand, hosting Georgia State on Tuesday (first pitch: 4 p.m.) then welcomes the Catamounts of Western Carolina to Russ Chandler for a weekend set. UMBC gets another crack at Georgetown, this time in D.C., on Wednesday then travels to Harrisonburg, Va., for a weekend series with James Madison.