Oct. 7, 2012
By Matt Winkeljohn
It's football season and it certainly has felt that way for the past couple days, but Georgia Tech's baseball team is working almost as if it's spring rather than gray and cool outside.
You might say the Yellow Jackets have been doubly emboldened during fall workouts and scrimmages. Not only did they win the ACC Tournament in the spring, but with pitcher Buck Farmer and outfielder Brandon Thomas back on the Flats, they're feeling good.
Seniors are somewhat rare in high Division I baseball, but Farmer and Thomas did not sign contracts last summer after being drafted by Major League teams. So, they're back with fellow seniors Clay Dalton and Sam Dove.
Dove is looking forward to more good times.
“Definitely. I'd been talking to Buck [during the summer], and knew that he was coming back pretty early in the process. Brandon was back and forth,” Dove said. “When it got to the final day, and I learned that he was coming back, that was huge for our team because he's a good friend and a great player and leader.
“That was huge for us. We have four seniors, and we have almost all our starters back; we only lost [first baseman Jake] Davies. When you're good friends with them, it's a personal thing as much as a team thing.”
There's been a lot going on with the Jackets. A few players skipped summer baseball for a variety of reasons. Farmer's trimmed himself. Center fielder Kyle Wren has packed on muscle, and Thomas didn't play while rehabbing and strengthening a hamstring or two.
“I think everyone has come back renewed. Everyone seems to be putting in a lot more extra work than in the past,” Dove said. “We'll have tailgates on Saturdays, and there are guys lifting before the tailgates. There are guys lifting after tailgates, or on Saturday nights. That usually never happens.
“You go in on Sunday, and half the team is hitting, throwing, working out. The work ethic is much improved.”
Dove, who started chiefly as an outfielder while a sophomore and primarily at third base as a junior, is likely to return to the outfield this spring. He, Wren and Thomas will likely form one of the most experienced outfield trios in the nation.
While studying materials & science engineering and earning All-ACC academic honors in each of his first three seasons, Dove has put up impressive numbers both in the classroom and on the field. Last season, he hit .340 with 86 hits. With an on-base percentage of .411, he scored 54 runs. His career OBP is .409.
“I'd say I'm more comfortable in the outfield, but wherever they need me,” Dove said. “It's probably one of the most experienced teams that we've had here. It was very, very good that we ended up like we did because we were disappointed with the regular season. It was almost odd how confident everyone was [in the ACC tournament].
“To not be one of the top two seeds and have that pressure . . . we just got in there, relaxed and played well. That's definitely carried into this fall.”
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