The Jackets faced FSU on Thursday needing a win to maintain a chance in the ACC tournament. They had not been able to beat the Seminoles in Tallahassee way back in March, being swept to end their 12-0 start in the worst possible way. Today, Zac Ryan (3-2, 5.75) pitched against Cole Sands (4-6, 4.63). Ryan had made his first appearance of the season against FSU back in March, pitching four scoreless innings before leaving on a pitch limit. Sands had won the third game of that weekend, giving up 3 earned runs in 5.1 innings.
|#11 Florida State (36-19)||2||0||2||0||0||0||2||0||0||6||10||1|
|#25 Georgia Tech (36-22)||1||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||1||6||1|
Visiting FSU batted first and for the eighth time in nine games, Tech allowed its opponent to score in the 1st inning, with the Seminoles getting an RBI single and then sacrificing a base runner on a fake steal to score another for an early 2-0 lead. Tech got one back in their 1st when a Kel Johnson RBI sacrifice fly scored Connor Justus from 3rd, making it a 2-1 deficit for the Yellow Jackets after one inning.
Ryan worked a 1-2-3 2nd inning, aided by a very nice Trevor Craport play on a slow grounder. The FSU 3rd didn’t go nearly as well, with John Sansone hitting a 2-run homer over the big blue left field wall to put the Seminoles up 4-1.
The Jackets stranded base runners at 3rd base every inning through three; hardly a recipe for success. Ryan was replaced by Keyton Gibson with two outs and two on in FSU’s 4th, as the Jackets’ season-long struggles to find reliable starters beyond Brandon Gold continued. Gibson had inherited a 1-1 count and completed the walk of Walls to load the bases, bringing up very dangerous John Sansone. Luckily, Gibson struck him out to keep the score 4-1.
In FSU’s 5th, the top four of their batting order continued to damage as Lueck led off with a double and moved to 3rd on a groundout. In a daring play, Connor Justus threw home on another ground ball, getting the runner out (although replay seemed to show him safe). Later, Arden Pabst made a nice play pouncing on a weak grounder to get the batter out and preserve the score. In FSU’s 6th, Gibson got himself into a bit of trouble, but again struck out Sansone to end the inning.
Jim Voyles, one of a pair of Atlanta twin brothers on the Florida State pitching staff, came into pitch for FSU in Tech’s 6th. He worked around a two-out Johnson single, as Georgia Tech's bats continued snoozing.
Dylan Busby made it 6-1 with another blast over the big blue wall in the Seminoles 7th. Gibson drew a warning for hitting the next batter Ben DeLuzio with a fastball, but Pabst managed to erase him on a steal attempt and Gibson caught a screaming liner right at his head to end the inning.
The Jackets could do nothing with a Craport lead off single in their 7th, and time was running out.
Bailey Combs came in to pitch for Tech in the 8th and set down three FSU batters in order. Wade Bailey got a one-out bunt single in the Jackets' 8th, but again nothing came of it. Combs coaxed a ground-ball double play after a walk in FSU’s 9th, the Jackets’ nation-leading 75th of the season. Chase Haney came in to pitch to Tech in their 9th and got the Jackets in order to preserve the win for the Seminoles.
The Jackets were eliminated from a championship game and will play NCS for pride on Friday. The offense that averages about 7 runs per game has now scored 1 run in 18 innings of pool play in the ACC Tournament. The pitching has been good enough to keep them in games, but without offense those pitchers would have needed to produce shutouts. It helps to remember the level of competition with Miami and FSU, but any regional host they might face will be as good or better.