The Jackets traveled to Athens on Tuesday night trying to even the season series against the dwags and set up a rubber game for the season series at Turner Field next month. Georgia Tech lost its home game in the series a few weeks back, by a final score of 3-1 (the team's only loss this year when holding opponents under 8 runs). They ran into a career pitching performance from Andrew Gist, but wouldn’t have to face him this time -- their rivals would instead use Heath Holder (1-2, 2.89) as their starter. The Yellow Jackets sent Zac Ryan (1-1, 6.53) to the mound, who would attempt to bounce back from a difficult string of appearances. (It would be a major boost to the pitching staff if he could.) Georgia Tech was coming off a dominating offensive performance at Clemson, where they scored 30 runs across three games on the road. The dwags had lost a series at #1 Florida, but had beaten the Gators once in Gainesville. A road win over the #28 RPI team could boost Tech’s #22 ranking. The dwags were trying to win their third in a row over the Jackets.
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Sadly, the game started out in a familiar, poor fashion for Tech. After going in order in the top of the first, Tech quickly trailed 1-0 after 1 on three dwag singles. In the bottom of the 2nd, two more scored on a single, a triple and a sacrifice fly. Then, as the Jackets entered the 3rd trailing by a meager 3-0 deficit, the Jacket-killing "big inning" reared up yet again, for what felt like the hundredth time this season. After a leadoff single, Tanner Shelton came on in relief for Ryan. It didn't help. Shelton managed only one out before two more scored on bases-loaded walks. Keyton Gibson came in and gave up a run by hitting a batter with his first pitch, another on a sacrifice fly, and two more after a single turned into three bases on a Matt Gonzalez error before the merciful end came. Georgia Tech trailed 9-0 after 3 innings, having allowed only 8 dwag hits!
After four scoreless one-hit innings from Holder, the uga coach brought in the all-too-familiar Andrew Gist for the 5th. Connor Justus singled Trevor Craport home from second with two outs to put Tech on the board at last. They still trailed 9-1.
In the bottom of the 6th, Coach Hall put Arden Pabst in at first base, I believe the first time there for him, perhaps in an effort to let him show some versatility for the scouts. Gibson continued to pitch well, though the damage was long-since done. Hopefully, the young Tech pitching staff will benefit in the long run from the load they’re shouldering now.
In the Tech 7th, Brandt Stallings drove in Joey Bart and Craport on a two-run triple to make it 9-3. Gist was replaced by Shane Tucker, who saw Peurifoy drive in Stallings with a ground out to make it 9-4. Carter Hall and Gonzalez later singled before a balk moved the runners to second and third for Grant Wruble. Unfortunately, Wruble struck out to end the Yellow Jackets' rally.
Bailey Combs came in for Gibson in the bottom of the 7th. He gave up his first run of the season with a two-out solo homer, which would have been a two-run homer if not for a picked-off baserunner. After yet another walk, Micah Carpenter came in to pitch with no further damage.
A Pabst homer to left on the first pitch of the 8th was all that Georgia Tech would manage before the dwags tacked on three more in the bottom of the 8th on four hits. A pair of Yellow Jacket walks to start the 9th inning failed to score, for a final score 13-5.
So, a deflating loss of the game and season series to our main in-state rivals came right before one of the hottest teams in the country visits Atlanta this weekend. The Jackets did themselves no favors in Athens, and the only positive I can coax out of this one is that the offense continued to fight back rather than rolling over. The pitching clearly has to be more consistent and quit issuing so many free passes -- their Achilles' heel in Athens were the 10 walks and 1 hit batsman in 8 innings.