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Georgia Tech Baseball: Big Innings Still the Story as Yellow Jackets Lose 2 of 3 Against #3 Miami

Pitching performances have been the story of the season at Russ Chandler Stadium, for better or worse.

connor justus fielding Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics

Perhaps the greatest challenge for the Jackets – at least since the early-season trip to Tallahassee – came to Russ Chandler Stadium this weekend in the form of Jim Morris’ Miami Hurricanes. They were #3 or #4 in polls, RPI of 3, record of 32-8, leading the Coastal Division with a 14-5 ACC record, and an all-around dangerous team. In 2015 they had swept the Jackets in Miami; could some pay-back be gained? The series was pushed back a day to allow more time to recover from finals.

Side note: Congratulations to Cole Pitts, Joe Wiseman, and Grant Wruble for graduating prior to Saturday’s game! Here’s to hoping you’re still student athletes until June 29th.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
#3 Miami (34-9, 14-6) 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 9 3
#20 Georgia Tech (31-14, 11-10) 0 3 0 0 3 2 3 1 X 12 17 1

New Tech basketball Coach Josh Pastner threw out a creditable ceremonial first pitch before Brandon Gold (5-2, 2.36 ERA) would pitch for Georgia Tech versus LHP Thomas Woodrey (5-3, 4.88 ERA). For the second opening game of a weekend in a row, Gold pitched a gem – 7 innings of shutout ball. The Jacket bats started slowly before blowing the game open later.

The heroics started in the top of the 1st, when Matt Gonzalez threw out a runner at home all the way from left field to end the inning. In the bottom of the 2nd, Connor Justus blooped a 2-out single behind second base to score 2 runs. An error on Miami's shortstop on a Bailey grounder made it 3-0. Gold pitched out of some bases-loaded trouble in the 3rd, while Miami got out of similar trouble in the Tech 4th with a timely double play. In the top of the 5th, Tech got its 62nd double play of the season, eliminating a leadoff walk 4-6-3. Tech added three more in the bottom of the 5th and two in the bottom of the 6th for a huge 8-0 lead!

The top of the 7th was marred by the home plate ump being injured on a foul tip to the throat. He finished the inning but was unable to finish the game, resulting in a ten minute delay before the bottom of the 7th, when Tech added 3 more runs to make the lead 11-0. After Burton Dulaney relieved Gold for a scoreless 8th, the Jackets added one more run in the 8th for Tech's final score of 12. Miami finally broke through for its only run of the game off of relief pitcher Bobby Gauvreau in the 9th to make the final score a major 12-1 Yellow Jacket win.

In addition to Gold's lights-out performance, Arden Pabst and Kel Johnson both went 3 for 4, Johnson driving in 1 and Pabst 3. The Jackets moved up to 14 in the RPI, solidly in hosting range. This game was a great start to a tough series!

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
#3 Miami (35-9, 15-6) 2 0 5 0 0 0 2 0 3 12 16 0
#20 Georgia Tech (31-15, 11-11) 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 9 2

New Georgia Tech Alumnus Cole Pitts (3-2, 6.23 ERA) started Game #2 for Tech, versus Michael Mediavilla (8-1, 3.26 ERA). It did not go well, to say the least.

Pitts can be very effective when his control is good. However, when he begins walking batters, he tends to throw strikes that are easy for a good batter to hit. On Sunday, he faced the bases loaded with no outs in the top of the 1st, due to a single and two walks. He got out of the inning having given up "only" two runs thanks to a strikeout and Tech’s 63rd double play, but the pattern would repeat itself in the 3rd. The Jackets tried to strike back from the early Miami scoring in the 1st inning with a Matt Gonzalez solo home run. After a Kel Johnson single, there was a deep fly ball by Tristin English that appeared sure to put Tech ahead. However, Miami right fielder Abreu caught it over the wall, preventing a 2-run homer and ending the inning with the Yellow Jackets trailing 2-1.

In the top of the 3rd, with the score unchanged, Miami managed four hits (including a home run) and four runs before Pitts was able to record an out. Cole’s day was done after an ugly line of 2+ innings, 7 hits, 2 walks, and 6 earned runs. Zac Ryan came in and got out of the inning, although not before giving up a solo home run to Willie Abreu to give Miami 5 runs on the inning.

After Miami’s 5-run outburst, Tech again answered with one run on a Kel Johnson RBI single. Immediately afterward, incredibly, Tristin English was again robbed of extra bases, this time when left fielder Jacob Heyward tracked down a line drive as he crashed into the wall, briefly injuring himself. Needless to say, the four RBI that Miami outfielders took away from English had a huge impact on the game. Tech wouldn't score again as Mediavilla settled down and scattered only 2 more Yellow Jacket hits over the next four innings.

After giving up a solo home run to the second batter he faced after taking over for Pitts, Ryan pitched shutout ball in the 4th and 5th innings, thanks in part to some stellar defense from Craport and Peurifoy. With the Jackets trailing 7-2, Jared Datoc gave up a 2-run home run to Abreu in the 7th, his second of the game. Robert Winborne couldn’t shut down Miami either, as the Hurricanes scored 3 more in the 9th on a home run by Randy Batista. The final was 12-2, and the series was tied.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
#3 Miami (36-9, 16-6) 1 0 0 5 6 0 0 1 4 17 22 0
#20 Georgia Tech (31-16, 11-12) 2 1 0 0 2 1 0 0 0 6 8 2

Tech freshman RHP Jake Lee (3-0, 4.88) went up against LHP Danny Garcia (7-2, 2.70) in a rare Monday game, the rubber match of this series. The first two games had been blowouts – one by each team. This game would be worse.

Things looked good for the Jackets early. Lee got out of some 1st inning trouble allowing only one run, aided by Tech’s nation-leading 64th double play. In the bottom, back-to-back 2 out home runs by Matt Gonzalez and Kel Johnson gave Tech a 2-1 lead. Matt’s was actually an inside-the-park homer off the center field wall -- the first at Georgia Tech since Kyle Wren did it against Clemson on April 28, 2012. In the bottom of the 2nd, Craport went deep to make it 3-1, a score that held until the 4th inning.

In the 4th, the Jacket-killing big inning saw Miami score 5 runs, followed by 6 more runs in the 5th. What was previously a 3-1 lead for Georgia Tech had become a 12-3 deficit over the course of 6 outs. (Tech is now 3-12 when allowing 5 or more runs in an inning, for obvious reasons.) Lee was chased off in the 5th for an equally ineffective Micah Carpenter, before Ben Parr was able to finish the inning. Parr managed to keep the Hurricanes at bay for a while, continuing with scoreless 6th and 7th innings.

The Jackets tried to battle back with 2 runs in the 5th and 1 run in the 6th. With the deficit cut to 12-6, it looked at least a possible set-up for a comeback.

Turns out that the hot-hitting Hurricanes weren’t through, as they added one off of Parr in the 8th on a Heyward home run and 4 more runs in the 9th off of Joe Wiseman, while the Jackets went quietly to end the game. The final was a really ugly 17-6. Only Matt Gonzalez looked good in this game, going 3 for 3 with the homer and two doubles.

Bottom Line

Miami is just a better team than Tech without Brandon Gold on the mound. Maybe the Hurricanes got mad Saturday after losing 12-1. They made superb plays in the outfield the final two games, robbing multiple Jacket batters of extra-base hits, especially Tristin English. Their pitching was good enough, while Tech’s (aside from Gold) was nothing short of disastrous.

Traveling to play a well-rested Virginia this coming weekend will really be a challenge for the Yellow Jackets. Tech is now 11-12 in the ACC and basically tied for sixth place with Clemson, which is 13-14. More alarming, in the bunched-up ACC, the Jackets are only one full game ahead of 11th place Pittsburgh! Tech’s RPI remains a very good #16.