The Jackets improved to 4-1 for the season on Saturday when they knocked off the scrappy Florida International Panthers by a final score of 16-9 in Caravelle Resort's Baseball at the Beach, hosted this season in Conway, S.C.
Tech got things going early in the first inning when Daniel Spingola ripped a leadoff double, followed by a one-out walk by freshman phenom Kel Johnson to put runners on first and second. AJ Murray would step up and score Spingola from second on a double, making the score a quick 1-0 Georgia Tech. The Jackets, however, wouldn't be finished quite yet -- Matt Gonzalez would beat out an infield single to load the bases. Following an FIU error to make it 2-0, catcher Arden Pabst would walk to make it 3-0 Tech in the first.
In the top of the second, Tech would manage to get players on second and third for AJ Murray, who would drive in both on an ugly error by the Panthers' center fielder. The error put Murray on third, and he would be driven in by Connor Justus on an RBI single to make it 6-0. FIU wouldn't go easily, though -- the Panthers answered with three runs of their own after drawing three walks and an HBP in their half of the second inning.
The Jackets would add another run in the third to make it 7-3, but FIU wasn't ready to quit just yet.
The Florida International rally began in the fourth when they loaded the bases against Jonathan King with one out, but could only score one run. King would go on to allow another run in the fifth, making it 7-5 Tech. Another sixth inning Panther run would cut the lead to just one, 7-6.
Tech would add another insurance run in the seventh inning when pinch hitter Keenan Innis smacked an RBI single up the middle, making it 8-6 Tech. FIU would answer immediately in their half of the inning, getting back-to-back two-out doubles to tie things up at 8 all. Jordan Schaaf then hit an RBI single to give FIU their first lead of the game at 9-8.
The score would remain static until the Tech half of the ninth inning, when the Jackets struck for a season-high eight runs. The huge inning began with a walk for Keenan Innis and a bunt single for Arden Pabst, followed by an FIU balk to put two in scoring position. An unsuccessful sacrifice bunt by Wade Bailey would put runners at the corners with two out for Daniel Spingola, who was promptly hit by a pitch to load the bases for Thomas Smith. He would be hit by a pitch to tie the game, and a bases-loaded walk by Kel Johnson would put Tech up for good, 10-9.
Bases still loaded, AJ Murray stepped up and smashed his second career grand slam well over the fence. Tech led 14-9, but would tack on two more runs to make it 16-9 before mercifully ending the inning. Tech's Tanner Shelton would come on to finish the game in the ninth, preserving the Jackets' fourth win of the season.
Junior Jonathan King got the start for the Jackets, his second of the season since undergoing Tommy John surgery early last year. King went five innings, allowing 5 runs (4 earned) with 2 strikeouts. Tanner Shelton would relieve Zac Ryan (4 runs, 3 earned) in the seventh, pitching 2.1 innings of shutout baseball to earn his first career win.
The Jackets will finish up their weekend in South Carolina with games versus host school Coastal Carolina (at 2:30) and against Albany tomorrow at 10:00 AM.
Congrats to Tech on another big win!