While the NHL’s first-round Game 7s and the NBA’s series-clinching games took up much (well, all) of the praise and national attention for dramatic TV-drama-esque finishes on Tuesday night, the real game to watch of the night (well, if you’re a masochist) was streamed live on ACC Network Extra: #13 Georgia Tech took to the field at SunTrust Park to face #5 Athens Community College in the 2019 series finale of Clean, Old-Fashioned Hate. It had all you would ever want in a baseball game: massive home-runs, steely bullpen pitching (well, sometimes), web gems galore, and most of all, rivalry hate — oh boy, was there hate.
Before we talk about how last night’s Farmview Market Spring Classic unfolded, let’s lay out the series so far:
- Game 1 (in Atlanta): GT 11, #4 Athens 2
- Game 2 (in Athens): #2 Athens 12, #17 GT 2
Each team blew out the other at home. That’ll rub some salt into an existing rivalry wound. But if you peel back the layers a little further, things are more dismal. Here are the series results for the last five years:
- 2018: 0-3, Athens sweep
- 2017: 0-3, Athens sweep
- 2016: 1-2, Athens win
- 2015: 1-1, series split (apparently, there was no home game this year?)
- 2014: 2-1, Tech win
Prior to this season, the Jackets had dropped eight of its last nine games versus the team out east and hadn’t won a season series since 2014 — now that should really get your blood boiling.
And so, the scene was set: the heat of searing rivalry hate and soaring dreams of national contention filled SunTrust Park on Tuesday night, clinging to every nook and cranny of the Braves’ home arena like the thick, swampy Georgia humidity of a warm June day.
Freshman RHP Cort Roedig (1-1, 4.51 ERA) took the mound to start the night for the Jackets, who rolled into SunTrust Park having won seven of their last ten games, including an 11-6 win over #21 Auburn. Junior RHP Tim Elliot, Athens’s premier midweek starter, manned the bump for the bad guys, bringing with him a 5-1 record and 1.52 ERA.
Roedig started off the game decently, facing 13 batters in 3.0 IP and only allowing three hits, one of which was a two-run homer. The Yellow Jackets’ bats chased Elliot into the away clubhouse early, as he gave up six runs in 1.1 innings of work, including a mammoth three-run homer to the Chop House by junior C Kyle McCann that increased Tech’s lead to 6-2 during the bottom of the second inning. An off-the-wall triple by sophomore 2B Luke Waddell scored another run to put the Jackets up by five heading into the fourth inning.
But the fourth proved to be Roedig’s undoing. After giving up a solo home run and a hit, Roedig came out of the game, and Senior RHP Jake Lee trotted out from SunTrust Park’s home bullpen in early relief. Lee gave up a hit and three walks to score two more runs. However, Lee did get two outs in the interim, and his replacement, senior RHP Micah Carpenter, tacked on one more to strand the bases loaded and end a disastrous fourth inning for Tech.
After an empty fourth inning at the plate for the Jackets, Carpenter got into some trouble in the fifth, putting runners on second and third with no outs, but freshman LHP Luke Bartnicki was able to get Tech out of the jam unscathed with two strikeouts and a flyout. Sophomore 1B Michael Guldberg (starting in place of an injured Tristin English) added an RBI sacrifice fly to score another Tech run, make the game 8-5 after five innings of play, and force Athens to dive into its bullpen again, sending the Tech faithful into a frenzy as the oft-used opposing pitching change song from Russ Chandler Stadium — a remix of Ray Charles’s “Hit the Road Jack” — blared out of the SunTrust Park loudspeakers.
In the top of the sixth, Bartnicki gave up a solo homer to cut Tech’s lead to 8-6, but sophomore RHP Hugh Chapman replaced him and got out of the inning clean. After another empty outing for Tech in the bottom of the sixth, Chapman got the Jackets out of the seventh unscathed, despite giving up a hit.
With the Jackets unable to faze Athens reliever Logan Moody at the plate in any of their last three innings, it was up to junior RHP/1B Tristin English (yes, the same one I said was injured) to seal the game of Tech with a six-out save. Two scoreless frames from English later, the deed was done, the game put away safely, and the Athens monkey firmly and forcefully removed from Tech’s back. On the stat-sheet, Chapman went home a happy camper with his first win of the season, while Elliot took his second loss on the year.
Tuesday night was another exercise in exorcising long-standing demons for Tech in 2019. The Jackets’ continued stretch of dominance in ACC play this year, along with their propensity to pull out hard-fought wins versus highly-ranked opponents, has them in contention for a national seed when the NCAA tournament comes calling in late May and early June.
But in lieu of worrying about how this win shapes Tech’s tournament future, let’s just savor it for today (like I’ve been doing all day, which is why this recap is out so late). After all, the taste of victory is ever-so-sweeter after beating your rival. It’s also not every day you see an entire dugout dance like this during a game:
#THWg, y’all - all day and every day, but especially today.
#13 Georgia Tech (28-13, 13-8 ACC): 4/26-28 vs Clemson
#4 Athens: who cares