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Georgia Tech Baseball: Yellow Jackets take first two games against Duke

The Yellow Jackets are looking to finish the season with a sweep

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Game 1

The final series of the weekend featured the very good Duke Blue Devils. I remember when Duke coming to town featured a sad sack bunch that hoped to avoid being swept – times have changed as this team is 38-12, 17-9 ACC and fourth overall in the conference and ranked No. 10 overal. Tech (29-24, 12-15 ACC) is tied for eighth in the ACC and probably needs to win the tournament next week to get an NCAA bid. Duke is a base running team, successful 80/94 in stolen bases, so Joey Bart’s arm will be tested.

Xzavion Curry (7-3, 4.07) faced senior RHP Mitch Stallings (3-3, 4.56) Thursday night. I kept thinking they should play in the afternoon, which was mostly dry, but the game finally started 15 minutes late because of a lightning delay. The leadoff hitter for Duke blooped a double down the right field line, moved to third on a wild pitch and scored on a grounder to second to give Duke an early lead. Then, another lightning delay with two outs, awful for Xzavion.

Note: this led to a two hour plus delay that we didn’t stay through. The Jackets rallied with five in their third and held on for a very welcome post-midnight 9-6 win to improve to 30-24 (13-15).

Game 2

Moved up to 4 PM, this game featured complete game wizard Connor Thomas (6-3, 2.73) vs senior RHP Ryan Day (5-2, 3.83). While Thomas was well short of his best, it turned out to be Tech’s biggest blowout of the season and featured their biggest single inning to win the game 20-7.

The game started badly, with Thomas and Wade Bailey making fielding errors and Thomas hitting a batter. A single resulted in one run before the bases were left loaded by Thomas’s second strikeout.

Duke added in their second on two singles and led 2-0. Then in the third, they led off with a double and got another two-out RBI single to make it 3-0. The RBI single came after a lengthy review of a ball down the third base line that was foul, but it was a moot point after the hit.

The Jackets jumped ahead by putting up five in their third with a great inning at the plate. They loaded the bases with one out for Kyle McCann, who worked a 3-2 count, then fouled off three balls before singling in two runs. After two outs, Colin Hall blasted a three-run homer to right and Tech led 5-3.

A rare lead-off walk by Thomas led to Duke’s fourth run on another clutch two-out RBI single. After Thomas finally got a shutdown, McCann led off the Tech fifth with a home run. The Jackets loaded the bases with one out, so Duke brought in sophomore LHP Bill Chillari. He did not have a successful outing, eventually walking Nick Wilhite for a run, giving up an RBI double to Bailey, then an RBI single to Chase Murray and a two-run homer to Joey Bart, making it 13-4.

With McCann coming up again, Duke went to sophomore RHP Matt Mervis. He loaded the bases again, hurt by an error, before Austin Wilhite doubled them all in off the right-center wall. When Nick Wilhite singled his brother in, the Jackets had scored 12 to lead 17-4. The Yellow Jackets sent 16 batters up to the plate during the inning.

Jonathan Hughes came in to pitch the sixth and gave up one run on a walk and two singles, making it 17-5. The Jackets didn’t like this, so they added three runs when Tristin English homered after Bart and McCann singles to make it 20-5.

Jared Datoc pitched a scoreless seventh by striking out the side after a single. Junior RHP Hunter Davis pitched to Tech in the bottom of the seventh and Hugh Chapman pitched to Duke in the 8 th for Tech, working around a walk and single to keep it 20-5.

Keyton Gibson came in to try and close it for Tech, but couldn’t do so due to control problems and walked in a run before Jake Brace relieved him with two outs and the bases loaded. Another run scored on a passed ball before Brace got the third out with a strikeout.

The big win clinched the series and improved Tech to 31-24 (13-15) with a chance to get back even in the ACC tomorrow. Thomas got the win and Day the loss. The win moved Tech’s RPI up into the low 40’s, barely in at-large territory.