Brandon Thomas was hot at the plate tonight. - Danny Karnik/GT Athletics
Brandon Thomas had three RBIs as Georgia Tech stuck it to Mercer, 16-9.
When asked coming into the season who the big run producers for Georgia Tech were going to be, coach Danny Hall more or less said "the whole team." That indistinct insight has come to life in a big way as the Diamond Jackets have scored 10 or more runs in their past seven games. Tonight's 16-run performance against the Mercer Bears surprisingly had the second smallest margin of victory of those seven games. This is because the Bears are no strangers to scoring runs themselves, having put 126 guys across the plate in their twelve games this year. In the end, they got outgunned by a hot Jacket squad looking to get itself pumped up for its opening ACC weekend on the road that starts Friday against Virginia Tech.
The game got a slower start than most expected. The Bears got things going with a Derrick Workman two-run single in the top of the first. Tech quickly responded with a run of its own in the second off of Mott Hyde's bat. The third inning saw no scoring from either team, and Mercer picked up another run in their half of the fourth off of an error by Matt Gonzalez on a throw to first. Up to this point there had only been four runs and eight hits by both teams. The game took off after that, as there would be 21 runs and 24 hits between the squads by the time the X appeared in Tech's ninth inning box score.
Georgia Tech picked up three runs in the fifth off of some good old fashioned small ball (with a little bit of help from Mercer's defenders), then added five more runs in the sixth to take a 9-6 lead. A.J. Murray played a huge role in this crucial inning with a bases-clearing triple off of a two-out pitch from David Teasley. From there on out it was all Georgia Tech as the Jackets used the basepath like a revolving door en route to their final 16 runs.
Big producers on the night include A.J. Murray, (2-4, 3 RBI), Brandon Thomas (4-6, 3 RBI) and Zane Evans (3-5, 1 RBI). It wasn't exactly a banner night for the pitching staff (it never is when they give up nine runs), but they did their part to keep the Bears' score lower than Tech's. Josh Heddinger got things started off for the Jackets, but with one out in the third had given Mercer two men on with one out and at that point it was still a close enough battle for that to warrant a call to the bullpen. Alex Cruz did the job for three and a third and gave up four runs and three walks, but got Tech through the meat of the game (according to a conversation I had with coach Hall at the beginning of the season, that's his job). Sam Clay had one of his better days on the hill and combined with Jared Jilson to get the last 10 outs while only giving up three runs and six hits. These impressive freshman were the highlight of the bullpen, as they hopefully will be for many more years to come.