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Georgia Tech Baseball: Jackets drop second-straight in Atlanta Challenge, lose 9-7 to UConn

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A rough defensive performance doomed the Jackets in a Sunday afternoon extra-innings loss.

Danny Karnik/GT Athletics

Georgia Tech baseball dropped a second-consecutive game on Sunday afternoon, losing by a final score of 9-7 in extra innings to the UConn Huskies.

Both teams came in with 1-1 records, Connecticut having lost to Kennesaw Friday and beaten Ga. State Saturday. Jake Lee took the mound for the Jackets vs. Junior lefty Chase Gardner, who is a transfer from Marin.

This was a tale of three games. The first 3 innings went disastrously wrong for the Jackets; then the relief pitchers held UConn scoreless for 6 innings while the Tech hitters chased and caught the Huskies with four in the fifth and two in the eighth. Finally, extra innings resulted in a disappointing loss to the gritty team from the American Conference.

After a Tech jumped up 1-0 on a Joey Bart solo homerun in the 1st, Jake Lee surrendered a tying shot to the leadoff batter in the 2nd, Isaac Feldstein. Then, after a double by Christian Fedko, Jake fought back and earned what should have been a tie game by striking out two and coaxing a pop fly out of Troy Stefanski. In a play that everyone in the stands could see going bad, neither Chase Murray in left or Nick Wilhite in center seemed to call for the ball and neither caught it, resulting in Fedko scoring and Stefanski standing at second. An error went to Wilhite since he touched it. Lee seemed rattled and quickly gave up another homerun to John Toppa to make it 4-1 in the second. A single and fly out ended the inning, but the damage was done and the determining factor of the game in place.

Jake came back to pitch the 3rd and couldn’t get an out, giving up two doubles and two singles before Keyton Gibson came in to end the bleeding, UConn scoring three and Tech trailing a daunting 7-1.

What followed was some superb Jacket pitching by Gibson, Andy Archer, and especially Jared Datoc, who combined to hold UConn scoreless for the rest of the nine inning regular game.

Meanwhile, the Jackets scored four in the 5th on a bases clearing triple down the 1st base line by Wade Bailey and an RBI groundout by Austin Wilhite. Starting pitcher Chase Gardner was done and Jeff Kirsten relieved to give the Huskies four pretty good innings.

The Jackets struck to tie in the 8th with leadoff singles by Bart and English, a two out walk by Oscar Serratos, an error on a tough grounder by Murray and Nick Wilhite working into being a hit batsman. It looked like the Jackets were going to jump ahead in a big way, but Wade Bailey’s deep liner to right center held up long enough for the center fielder to catch it for out three. In the 9th, Tech again got two on with singles by English and Kel Johnson, but Baron Radcliff struck out to preserve the tie.

Datoc had fought hard but appeared to be tiring in the 10th. After two quick outs, UConn put together a single and double by Chris Winkel and Conor Moriarty to put runners on 2nd and 3rd. A really tough bouncing ball got past a diving Wilhite (called an error), allowing two runs. Oscar Serratos came in from 3rd to the mound and closed it out in his first pitching appearance of the season. The Jackets went down in order in the bottom, giving the visitors a happy trip home and leaving Tech at 1-2 going into a road game Tuesday in Statesboro.

P. J. Poulin got the win with two innings of scoreless relief and Jared Datoc got the tough luck loss. Bailey and Bart each had three hits for Tech and Serratos made his first start at third. The Jackets made four errors (two on Austin Wilhite, one on Nick Wilhite, and one on Oscar Serratos) to go with the three Saturday. The first one in the outfield on a routine play changed the whole game and led to the outcome hours later; only four of the nine UConn runs were earned. The Jackets showed a lot of heart fighting back but it fell short. Joey Bart threw out two would-be base stealers, now four for four on the season.