ATLANTA - The eighth-ranked Georgia Tech baseball team will host No.1 Virginia with the top spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference's Coastal division on the line this weekend at Russ Chandler Stadium. The Yellow Jackets (23-7, 11-1 ACC) and the Cavaliers (29-2, 11-1 ACC) will play at 7 p.m. Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday and at noon on Sunday.
Pitching Matchup (Georgia Tech vs. Virginia) Friday: RHP Mark Pope (7-0, 0.66, 54.2 IP, 48 SO) vs. LHP Danny Hultzen (6-0, 1.36, 46.1 IP, 78 SO) Saturday: LHP Jed Bradley (3-0, 1.85, 43.2 IP, 59 SO) vs. RHP Tyler Wilson (4-0, 1.90, 42.2 IP, 55 SO) Sunday: RHP Buck Farmer (5-1, 2.11, 42.2 IP, 46 SO) vs. RHP Cody Winiarski (4-1, 3.05, 38.1 IP, 31 SO)
PROMOTIONS - April 8-10, 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011 (7pm) - STUDENTS: Tech Support T-shirt Giveaway!*, 90's Music Trivia and other great in-game promotions
Saturday, April 9, 2011 (6pm) - Bucket Hat Giveaway!*, In-game Promotions
Sunday, April 10, 2011 (12pm) - Kids on-field for National Anthem and run the bases after the game
The GT radio broadcast can be heard over the air on WREK (91.1), the flagship station of Georgia Tech baseball, and online at RamblinWreck.com.
Georgia Tech (23-7) enters the week ranked as high as No. 5 in the Perfect Game USA Top-25 poll. The Jackets are also ranked in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper (8), USA Today/ESPN Coaches' (11), National Collegiate Baseball Writer's Association (12) and Baseball America (14) polls.
The Yellow Jackets are coming off a 7-6 midweek loss to Kennesaw State on Tuesday, but have won 18 of their last 21 games since opening the season with a 5-4 record ... Tech has won all seven weekend series' this season, and 10 straight regular season weekend series' dating back to May 7-9, 2010 against Illinois-Chicago.
Friday's game will mark the 107th all-time meeting between the two schools in a series that dates back to 1924 ... Georgia Tech holds a 64-40-2 advantage in the all-time series.
Georgia Tech and Virginia are tied for the lead in the ACC Coastal Division with identical 11-1 records in conference play.
Virginia returns 22 letterwinners, 10 pitchers and five position starters from a 2010 team that finished 51-14 overall (23-7 ACC), finished first in the ACC Coastal Division and reached the Charlottesville Super Regional.
The Cavaliers are currently on a 10-game win streak after a 2-0 midweek win over Radford on Tuesday ... They currently lead the ACC in pitching with a 1.93 ERA.
Georgia Tech holds a 64-40-2 advantage in the all-time series ... The Jackets are 34-14-2 against the Cavaliers in games played in Atlanta ... The two teams split the last series at Russ Chandler Stadium, 1-1-1 in 2009 ... Virginia won two out of three in Charlottesville last season ... Head coach Danny Hall is 31-21-1 against UVA since arriving on the Flats in 1994.
Last Meeting: Cody Winiarski held the second-ranked Georgia Tech baseball team to just one run over 5.1 innings, and Phil Gosselin was 2-for-4 with three RBI to help No. 4 Virginia take the series with a 9-1 victory in the rubber-match on April 11, 2010 at Davenport Field.
Winiarski picked up his fourth win of the season, and combined with the Virginia bullpen to hold the Jackets to just seven hits on the day. The Jackets stranded eight base runners against the Cavaliers, including five in scoring position.
Georgia Tech currently leads the Atlantic Coast Conference in hitting (.328) while second in pitching (2.21 ERA) ... Nationally, Tech is 7th in batting and 8th in pitching entering the week.
Freshman centerfielder Kyle Wren leads the ACC in batting average (.422) and hits (54) while tied in runs scored (35) ... The freshman centerfielder's hit total is the second highest in the nation ... Juniors Jake Davies (.390, 3rd) and Matt Skole (.385, 4th) combine with Wren to give Tech three of the top-four averages in the conference.
Junior Mark Pope (7-0), the Jackets Friday starter, leads the nation in wins with seven ... He also paces the ACC in five different categories: Wins (7), Innings Pitched (54.2), ERA (0.66), Complete games (3) and shutouts (2) ... Pope has allowed just four earned runs all season, and tossed 36 2/3 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run from Feb. 18 to March 25 ... All three weekend starters have combined for an 15-1 record, and a 1.48 ERA.
Pope's .909 career winning percentage (20-2) is the best in school history for a pitcher with at least 10 wins.
Pope has been named the ACC Pitcher of the Week twice this season, and a Collegiate Baseball Newspaper National Player of the Week once.
Georgia Tech won 16 straight games from March 4 to March 29, its longest streak since the 2006 season.
Seventeen of Georgia Tech's 34 players on the roster are freshmen ... All 17 have played this season while 10 have made at least one start.
YELLOW JACKETS IN THE RPI
Georgia Tech enters the weekend at No. 5 in the first NCAA RPI rankings released this season (as of April 3)... The Jackets are also No. 5 in the latest Pseudo-RPI (source: BoydsWorld.com).
The Atlantic Coast Conference is well represented in the most updated RPI, with five teams ranked among the top 25 in the nation. Virginia, ranked No. 3 in the country in the RPI, leads all conference teams while North Carolina (4), Georgia Tech (5), Florida State (11) and Clemson (13) all rank in the top 25.
TOP OF THE HEAP
There's no secret to Georgia Tech's success thus far in 2011 -- good hitting and good pitching. Through 30 games, the Yellow Jackets are at the top in hitting and second in pitching in the ACC, boasting a .328 team batting average, with a league-high 353 hits and a .469 slugging average. The Jackets also are getting it done on the mound. They are the only team to have three complete games -- Mark Pope has all three. The Jackets' 66 earned runs are the second fewest allowed in the league (Virginia leads with 61), while Tech pitchers are holding opponents to just a .215 batting average.
STARTING THREE ARE KEY
Georgia Tech's weekend rotation of Mark Pope, Jed Bradley and Buck Farmer has keyed the team's success so far this season. The 1-2-3 punch is 15-1 on the season, holding a combined 1.48 ERA, having allowed just 23 earned runs in 141 innings. Pope has led the crew with a conference-leading 0.66 earned run average, and has yielded just four earned runs all year (54.2 IP). Bradley leads the crew in strikeouts with 59, while Pope (48) and Farmer (46) aren't far behind.
POPE PAVES THE WAY ON FRIDAY
Junior Mark Pope has pitched the Jackets to a huge advantage in each series this season. The Marietta, Ga. native has allowed just four earned runs (eight runs total) in 54.2 innings. His seven wins are the most in the nation, while his earned run average is the seventh best among all hurlers.
Pope's most glaring statistic is his strikeout to walk ratio, which sits at 48:8. He has issued 1.33 walks per nine innings pitched. He set the school's single-season record for fewest walks per nine innings in 2010 at 1.43.
Pope has made a habit of pitching complete games recently, tossing back-to-back complete game shutouts against Rutgers (3/4) and Maryland (3/11), before throwing another nine innings against Duke last Friday. He has three career shutouts, which tie for the most in school history.
....AND LEADS IN CAREER WINNING PERCENTAGE
With 9-2 win over Duke, Pope improved his career record to 20-2 overall. His .909 winning percentage is the best all-time at Georgia Tech for a pitcher with a minimum of 10 wins.
Freshman Kyle Wren has been the "table-setter" for not only the very young Yellow Jacket squad, but also the entire Atlantic Coast Conference in 2011. Tech's leadoff man leads the conference in batting (.422), hits (54) and runs scored (35). His 54 hits are the second most in the nation, one fewer than Arizona's Joey Rickard.
Wren has reached base safely in 29 of the 30 games, with at least one hit in 27 of them. The freshman centerfielder has 17 multi-hit games on the season. He had five hits against Maryland on March 12, which ties for the most by an ACC player in a game this season with teammate Matt Skole and Duke's Anthony D'Alessandro.
SKOLE TAKING FLIGHT
With a .385 batting average on the season, Junior Matt Skole is showing the form that made him a preseason All-America candidate.
Skole's name is etched all over the ACC leader boards, ranking second in RBI (35) and on-base percentage (.496), third in total bases (68) and slugging percentage (.624), fourth in average and doubles (11), and fifth in hits (42).
He had a monster game against Georgia on March 22, going 5-for-5 with two home runs (one grand slam) and eight RBI. The eight RBI are the most by an ACC player in a game this season.
ESCH DOUBLES HIS WORK LOAD
Shortstop Jacob Esch has made a habit of doubling up on things this season - an ACC leading 16 doubles (third most in the nation), 17 turned double plays and also pitching some in relief - but his biggest challenge has been doubling up on academics and baseball.
The third-year Civil Engineering major is taking 19 credit hours this semester, one more than the allowed amount for student athletes. Esch had to get special permission to take an extra credit hour.
DEFENSIVE SWITCH PAYS OFF
After opening the season with a 5-4 record, head coach Danny Hall made a defensive switch that has paid dividends during the teams' current run. Jacob Esch and freshman Mott Hyde switched positions in the middle infield, with Esch moving from second base to shortstop and Hyde just the opposite. Since the flop, Tech has gone 18-3 and turned 23 double plays.
Hyde has been apart of 21 and Esch 17 overall, while they have combined for 12 of them since their switch. Georgia Tech had turned just five DP's in the first nine games of the season.
WHO'S ON FIRST?
Entering the 2011 season, the Jackets had big shoes to fill at first base after the departure of All-American Tony Plagman. Junior Jake Davies, who served as one of the primary relievers in the bullpen the past two seasons with over 40 career appearances on the mound, has blossomed into the new role as Tech's everyday first baseman.
Davies had just eight hits in 37 at-bats over the past two seasons, but this season he has 39 hits in 100 at-bats (23 starts). The McDonough, Ga. native is second on the team with a .390 batting average having made 21 starts at first base. The Jackets are 19-2 with on the corner.
He has eight doubles, one triple, four home runs and 20 RBI on the year.
In a lineup is filled with seven new starters, showing anywhere from four to seven freshmen (two occasions) on a game-to-game basis, the Jackets have been hampered by some costly youthful mistakes. Just 66 of the team's 103 allowed runs have been earned, as the group has made 40 errors defensively. The team has had just nine games this season in which it did not commit an error. Tech committed just 67 total errors in 2010 (62 games).
In losses to Kent State (6-1), Georgia Southern (6-5), St. John's (13-3), Duke and Kennesaw State (7-6), the Jackets committed a combined eight errors that led to 19 unearned runs.
TIME CHANGE FOR APRIL 23
Georgia Tech's game against Boston College on April 23 has been moved up from 6 p.m. to a 3 p.m. start due to the football Spring Game. Fans will be able to stay on the Flats after the noon football scrimmage, and head straight over to baseball.