The On-Deck Circle: No. 10 Georgia Tech (10-3) at NC State (9-2)
Sting Daily previews this weekend's ACC baseball series in Raleigh
March 8, 2012
By Jon Cooper
Friday: Buck Farmer, RHP (2-1, 3.32) vs. Anthony Tzamtzis, RHP (1-0, 4.50), 3:00 p.m.
No. 10 Georgia Tech opens ACC play this weekend as they travel to Doak Field in Raleigh, N.C., to take on the Wolfpack of North Carolina State.
The Jackets will try to bounce back from Wednesday's frustrating 5-4 loss to Georgia State that ended their five-game winning streak. Cole Pitts (2-1) took the loss despite allowing only two earned runs and five hits over four innings. Daniel Palka hit his fourth homer of the season in the seventh, extending his hitting streak to 12 straight games, and Jake Davies had two hits and scored a run, but the Jackets left men on base in every inning and stranded 13 in coming up one run short. Tech's four errors in the fifth inning contributed to a GSU three-run rally that extended the lead to 5-1. The Jackets rallied for two in the seventh and another in the ninth but couldn't push across the equalizer.
NC State won its fourth in a row on Wednesday, blasting Davidson, 11-0. The Wolfpack has outscored its opponents 38-6 during their streak. Junior righty Danny Healey (2-0) got the win, entering the game in the third inning, following starter Logan Jernigan, and throwing three innings of one-hit ball. Outfielder Logan Ratledge went 3-for-5 with a run and three RBIs, and shortstop Chris Diaz had two hits, extending his season-long hitting streak to 11 games, with a run scored and two RBIs to lead the 13-hit assault. State broke open the game with a six-run third inning, helped by three of Davidson's eight errors on the day.
Georgia Tech and NC State renew a rivalry that dates back to 1921. The Yellow Jackets hold a 70-46 lead in the series and have dominated of late, having won six straight meetings and 11 of the last 14. The series is a lot tighter at Doak, where the Wolfpack holds a 24-21 edge all time and has won the last two series.
All three games can be heard on WREK, 91.1 FM with Nolan Alexander and Wade Rogers calling the action. The games also will be webcast on RamblinWreck.com and Gametracker is available. Saturday's and Sunday's games also can be seen on ESPN3.
Last Time We Met: Georgia Tech extended its season winning streak to 12, blowing away NC State last March 18-20 at Russ Chandler Stadium, outscoring the Wolfpack 32-6 in the weekend set. In the opener, Kyle Wren (4-for-6) and Jacob Esch (3-for-5) went a combined 7-for-11 with three runs scored in the 1-2 slots and Mott Hyde's two-run double in the sixth broke a 1-1 tie in a 9-2 victory. Mark Pope allowed a run and three hits over eight innings to get the win. The Jackets, who had 13 hits, broke the game open late scoring two in the seventh and four in the eighth. The bats stayed hot on Saturday, pounding out 17 hits in a 12-0 victory. Matt Skole's three-run double and Jake Davies' three-run homer highlighted a six-run third inning that opened the scoring and provided more than enough support for Jed Bradley, who threw seven innings of five-hit, shutout ball and had a no-hitter through three. Tech swept the series, routing State on Sunday, 11-4, behind Daniel Palka's 3-for-5, four RBI day and the pitching of Buck Farmer, who allowed four runs and six hits, while striking out seven in 6 2/3 innings. Palka, who singled, doubled and tripled, blasted a two-run, ground-rule double as part of a four-run first and Tech was on its way. Wren had two hits on Sunday and finished the series batting .643 (9-for-14), with five runs scored. Palka hit .417 (5-for-12), with six RBIs. The Jackets out-hit State, .389 to .177 in the three games.
Sam, Bam!: Sam Dove has really found his groove. Since starting the season hitting .176 over his first five games (3-for-17), the junior and former walk-on has been flying high. He heads into the weekend leading the Jackets in hitting at .404, and over the last eight games is batting .533 (16-for-30). He's currently tied with Palka with six multi-hit games, including a team-high four three-hit games. He also ranks second on the team with two game-winning runs.
(Not) Close and Late: The Jackets may be called a lot of things, but not slow starters. The Jackets have outscored opponents 10-5 in the first inning, 11-3 in the second, 21-7 in the third and 16-7 in the fourth. That's a 58-22 edge. By contrast, NC State is outscoring opponents 39-12 over the first four, but 10-0 in the fifth and 46-9 in the seventh, eighth and ninth, including an incredible 30-4 in the eighth.
Can You See a Trend?: Tech's been quite good closing things out as well. The Jackets are 10-0 when tied or leading after six innings (8-0 when leading, 2-0 when tied), they're 10-0 when tied or leading after seven (9-0, 1-0), and 10-0 when tied or leading after eight (10-0, 0-0). Part of that has been the effectiveness of the bullpen, as Tech has allowed 13 runs over the final three innings. Their shutdown ability has gotten better as the game goes on, as opposing production falls off as the game gets later. Jackets pitchers have allowed seven runs in the seventh, five in the eighth and one in the ninth.
Dirty Dozen: Luke Bard's streak of appearances without allowing an earned run is up to 12. The junior closer's shutout streak has reached 22 innings, dating back to April 24, 2011, when he allowed a ninth-inning RBI single against Boston College's Matt McGovern at Russ Chandler in Tech's 10-8 victory. Thus far in 2012, Bard has put up zeroes in all six appearances (covering eight innings), and has recorded two saves. He also has 12 career saves, ranking him ninth all-time on the school's career list. Bard begins the weekend one save behind Brian Burks (2001-04) and is only 10 behind Tech's career leader, Jim Poole, who had 22 from 1985-88.
On Deck: Georgia Tech hosts Wagner on Tuesday then has its first home ACC weekend series, taking on Virginia Tech. State visits Elon on Tuesday then hosts Wake Forest over the weekend.