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Georgia Tech Baseball: Jackets Win Opener, Drop Saturday Double-Header to Boston College, Set for Tuesday Rematch with Eagles

A promising start to the series was followed by a rough day on Saturday.

Georgia Tech Baseball Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics

The final weekend of the ACC could not have been more crucial for multiple teams. 13 of the 14 teams had a chance to make the 10-team tournament, only hapless VPI out for certain. Only 4 teams were assured of spots. Nine other teams would either be in the play-in game, in the top 6 bye positions, or out completely. The Jackets (12-14) were one of those teams, as was BC (11-14). Two wins would assure Tech of getting in, while winning less than two would be dangerous. To add more drama, the weather was iffy.

BC was coming off a two-game weekend sweep of Niagara, while the Jackets had just beaten uga on Tuesday in 10 innings.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Boston College (29-19, 11-15) 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 10 3
#22 Georgia Tech (35-18, 13-14) 1 0 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 6 10 3

Brandon Gold (6-3, 2.66) started against Mike King (7-3, 3.07), who had pitched a complete game shutout against Tech last year in Boston.

The Eagles scored twice in their 1st, helped immensely by errors on Wade Bailey and Tristin English. It would have been worse, but Arden Pabst threw out the runner at third when a bunt attempt failed. Tech got one back in the bottom of the inning when some aggressive base running by Bailey got him home all the way from 1st on a Matt Gonzalez groundout.

BC added one in the 2nd on a single, wild pitch, and RBI single. Brandon Gold started Georgia Tech’s 68th double play when he made a diving catch on a popped up bunt and threw to 1st before the runner could return.

Tech had a big inning in the bottom of the 3rd on a Pabst single, Justus walk, Bailey sacrifice bunt (safe on an error), then a clutch 2-run single by Gonzalez on a full count. After two outs, Brandt Stallings got another big 2-run single, again on a full count. Tech led 5-3.

The Jackets turned their 69th double play to end the top of the 4th on a sweet 4-6-3-1, where the runner at 2nd was out, the runner at 1st was safe, but a runner trying to score from 3rd was out to end the inning.

The Jackets got an insurance run in their 6th when Justus scored on a Kel Johnson single after moving around the bases on some small ball.

The critical point in the game came as Brandon Gold began to tire. He gave up a one-out single, then hit a batter, and got a ground ball that was thrown wide by Justus to Bailey at 2nd, loading the bases with only one out. Gold would recover nicely though, striking out the next two batters to end the threat and inning unscathed!

Zac Ryan pitched a one-hit 8th, and Matthew Gorst worked a 1-2-3 9th to get his 11th save. This would turn out to be the win Tech needed to make the ACC Tournament.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Boston College (30-19, 12-15) 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 4 0 8 13 1
#22 Georgia Tech (35-19, 13-15) 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 3 7 1

Jake Lee (3-1, 6.87) went against Justin Dunn (2-1, 1.22) in a game first moved up to noon on Friday due to weather, then back to 1, then back to 7 as scheduled, then moved to a Saturday DH starting at noon, then rain delayed until 12:50.

Nothing went well from the start. BC started with three singles to take a 1-0 lead, then Tech got its 70th double play to get out of the inning. In the BC 2nd, a pop up fell in for a double, and an RBI single made it 2-0. Two singles in the 3rd, coupled with an error on Matt Gonzalez made it 3-0. Lee had gotten no help from either his defense or the home plate umpire, who failed to call several Eagles out on strikes. Cole Pitts came on in relief for Lee and ended the inning.

Pitts gave up two leadoff walks in the top of the 5th; they moved over on a sacrifice bunt and one scored on a sacrifice fly. It was now 4-0. Tech failed to score Craport from 3rd with no outs in their 5th. It was that kind of day.

In the bottom of the 6th, singles by Justus and Bailey led to runners on 1st and 3rd. Matt Gonzalez was hit in the shoulder hard on a swinging strike, but stayed in and hit a sacrifice fly to score Justus. Bailey tagged and went to 2nd, then took 3rd on a failed pick-off, and scored on a balk to make it 4-2.

Tech got out of a bases-loaded jam in the BC 7th, but gave up four runs on only two hits in the BC 8th thanks to a 2-run double and a slew of walks. It was 8-2. Gonzalez threw out a runner at home in the BC 9th, but the Jackets could just manage 1 run in their 9th on a Craport sac fly to make the final 8-3. Dunn had pitched a complete game for BC allowing 3 runs on 7 hits with 0 walks and 9 strikeouts– a real gem.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Boston College (31-19, 13-15) 1 3 0 1 2 0 0 0 0 7 13 0
#22 Georgia Tech (35-20, 13-16) 0 0 1 1 1 0 3 0 0 6 16 1

In the final game, Burton Dulaney started for Tech vs. Jacob Stevens. In a pattern that was familiar, BC reached on 2 singles and an RBI double to lead at once. They scored in their 1st all three games of the series. Tech left the bases loaded in the bottom of the 1st.

In the 2nd, again 2 singles were followed by a 2-run double. After Zac Ryan relieved Lee, another double made it a 4-0 Georgia Tech deficit. Tech finally scored a run in the bottom of the 3rd on a Kel Johnson RBI single. Trevor Craport barely missed a 2-run homer that was caught in deep left center.

In the BC 4th, another double was driven in by a single to make it 5-1. In the bottom of the 4th a Peurifoy solo HR made it 5-2, but after Tech loaded the bases yet again, Johnson was called out on strikes to end the inning. BC hit a massive 2 run homer in their 5th to make it 7-2. Georgia Tech answered in the bottom of the 5th with a two-out triple from Stallings and an RBI infield single from Ryan Peurifoy to pull to within 7-3.

In the bottom of the 7th, the Jackets looked to make a game of it. Singles by Craport, Stallings, and Peurifoy loaded the bases with nobody out. Then, Pabst struck out and Justus hit a weak come-backer to the pitcher for a force out at home, before finally Wade Bailey and Matt Gonzalez both got clutch 2-out RBI singles, both on full counts. The deficit had been cut to 7-6, but unfortunately that would be as close as the Yellow Jackets would get. Ben Parr and Matthew Gorst held BC in the 8th and 9th innings, respectively, but Tech left two stranded in the 8th and the top of Tech’s batting order popped up three times in the 9th to give BC the double-header sweep and a place in the ACC Tournament.

Bottom Line

The Jackets played poorly for much of both games on Saturday; certainly not like a team with their postseason hopes on the line. The pitchers walked far too many and they failed to close the deal with two-strike counts. The defense was not sharp. The offense (in the second game in particular) left base runners in scoring position over and over. They got some bad breaks, as BC sent pop-ups that couldn’t be reached into the outfield in the first game and double after double down the foul lines in the second game. Hard-hit Tech balls flew right at outfielders. That’s baseball, and it doesn’t always even out in the short run.

Tech backed into the ACC when UNC lost to NC State on Saturday. The good news is that Tech’s RPI of 20 and record of 35-20 should easily get a NCAA bid -- unlike 2015 when the RPI was 38 and Tech’s record was 32-23. BC will again be the opponent in the play-in game Tuesday. Who will step up for the Jackets?