The Georgia Tech baseball team rallied in the final frames Tuesday night to take home a win in its first road game of the season, against a formidable Georgia Southern squad. The loss is the Eagles' first of the season after sweeping Bethune Cookman on opening weekend.
The Jackets (3-1) got off to a fast start in the second inning. AJ Murray was hit by a pitch and advanced to second after a fielder's choice, before back to back singles by 3B Brandon Gold and 2B Wade Bailey brought him home to give Tech a 1-0 lead.
However, the Jackets' offense stalled for the next four innings, with the only hit in that stretch coming from veteran infielder Thomas Smith in the fifth.
Meanwhile, Tech sophomore righty Ben Schniederjans tossed 3 scoreless frames in his first start as a Jacket before struggling in the fourth, in which he gave up three earned runs - all with two outs.
Reliever Tanner Shelton went to the mound for the fifth inning and struck out two of the three batters he faced for a quick three up, three down. He struck out another in the top of the sixth, but head coach Danny Hall pulled him after back-to-back two-out walks in favor of fellow sophomore RHP Zac Ryan. Georgia Southern capitalized on the mistakes and added another run to extend their lead to 4-1 through six.
That's when freshman RF Kel Johnson busted the game wide open.
After C Arden Pabst and Brandon Gold struck out to start the seventh, Tech's offense found its momentum again. Bailey hit his second single of the night through the left side on an 0-2 pitch, and former MLB draftee Daniel Spingola followed up with an 0-2 single of his own to center. Smith got plunked in the following at bat, and suddenly the bases were juiced with two outs for gold medalist Kel Johnson.
The reigning ACC Player of the Week didn't disappoint. Johnson rattled a 2-2 pitch off the scoreboard for a go-ahead grand slam to give the Jackets a 5-4 lead. Watch the video below, courtesy of Twitter user @krauss3rd.
pic.twitter.com/NLnNrxpaAr Kel Johnson everyone— Philip Krauss III ™ (@krauss3rd) February 18, 2015
Zac Ryan slammed the door shut on the mound from there onward. The Jackets added two more runs in the eighth thanks to a 2 RBI double from Bailey. Ryan was credited with the win as he closed out the 7-4 victory. He finished with 3.1 IP, 4 H, 4 K, BB, and 0 ER.
Tech's freshmen paced Tech's offense for most of the night. Wade Bailey finished 3-3 with 3 RBI while Johnson went 1-5 with a grand slam, his third dinger in just four games as a Jacket. Sophomore Brandon Gold also had a good night at the plate, going 2-4. AJ Murray, Thomas Smith, and Daniel Spingola each added a hit as well.
The Jackets will travel to Conway, South Carolina this weekend to play in Caravelle Resort's Baseball at the Beach. They will take on FIU on Friday at noon, Albany on Saturday at 11am, and Coastal Carolina on Sunday at 3pm.