Baseball vs. uga: Cruz Gets First Start Since 2012

Danny Karnik/GT Athletics

The Jackets (7-4) travel to Athens tonight to face the Bulldogs (5-6).

New uga head coach Scott Strickland may be a Danny Hall prodigy, but that hasn't stopped anyone from knowing that will only heat up this already-intense rivalry.  The Jackets travel to "the city of many dive bars" at 7 P.M. to take on a uga team in flux in more ways than one.

You might look at that uga record in the tagline and think "Neat!  We got this!" but don't be so quick to jump to conclusions.  Uga has played a surprisingly tough early-season schedule featuring three games against Georgia Southern and three games against FSU in Tallahassee.  They took one each from the Seminoles and Eagles, while dropping games to Kennesaw State and Georgia State in the process.  The loss to State is encouraging, but what may be even more encouraging is the dawg's stat line: they're hitting .256 as a team and have an ERA of 5.27.  That may be exacerbated tonight as Freshman RHP Robert Tyler (1-0, 1.74 ERA) gets the second start of his career tonight up against Tech's Senior fireballer, Alex Cruz.  Cruz has a 0.00 ERA in 10.1 innings of work this season and is eeking ever so slowly back to his 2012 form when he was practically the Craig Kimbrel of college baseball.  This will be only the second start of Cruz's career, so look for him to work about three or four innings before either Dusty Isaacs or Devin Stanton come in to take things over.  Tyler was Colliegate Baseball's top high school player in Georgia last year, so he's no joke either.  He might last the same amount of time as Cruz, however I'd expect him to go a full five innings or so before coach Strickland pulls him in favor of his relievers.

UGA may have some poor numbers behind the plate and on the mound, but they're no joke in the field.  They're fielding .983 and have turned 16 double plays so far this season, far ahead of Tech's 10 defensive DP's so far.  When the ball is in play, the dwags clearly do not mess around.  However, they've given up 6.5 runs per game this year, almost double Tech's rate of 3.5  The pitching staff has a BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) of .308, which is about what you'd expect for a team with such a high fielding percentage and yet many so many runs given up.  What really puts this in perspective, though, is uga's home run numbers: they've let 19 bombs go over the wall as opposed to Tech's staff's 3.  Against similar competition, uga has a similar run differential to Tech (-3 as opposed to -2).  If we're going to beat these guys, it's going to be in the power game.  Which is good, since Tech leads the ACC in triples hit 21 doubles already.

The game airs tonight on CSS at 7 P.M.  Do you think the young Jackets have enough power to pay back the dwagz for last season's romp at the Ted?  Let us know!

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