I had hoped to get to this game, but that fell through. I thank ESPN and Wiley and Nick on WREK for this account.
Tuesday: Georgia Tech 10, Georgia Southern 3
W: Jared Datoc (1-0) | L: Zach Strickland (0-1)
Fresh off a weekend sweep against Atlanta Challenge visitors, the Yellow Jackets (4-0) donned their gray road uniforms for the first time and made the usual February trip down I-75 and I-16. Senior Ben Parr got the start, hoping to pick up his 2nd win in four days (he got the Saturday win with one inning of relief). Georgia Southern (2-2) countered with Freshman right hander Zach Strickland in his first college appearance. The Jackets would be a step up from the batters he had faced at Ware County HS.
The Jackets indeed gave Strickland a rude initiation by batting around and scoring 5 runs in the top of the 1st. He only pitched the one inning. Kel Johnson hit a solo home run to lead off the 3rd inning, his third homer of the year. The Jackets pushed the lead to 7-0 in the 4th thanks to an error on a would-be double play. GS broke through in the bottom of the inning to make it a 7-1 lead for the Jackets heading into the 5th.
Unfortunately for Parr, he couldn't make it through the fifth inning to qualify for the win, leaving after loading the bases with two outs. Jared Datoc came in got a fly ball out to end the threat and preserve the Jackets’ 6-run lead. He ran into his own trouble in the bottom of the 6th, giving up a run with two outs before getting a clutch strikeout with the bases loaded to keep it 7-2. Johnson quickly restored the six-run lead in the top of the 7th inning with his fourth home run of the year — this one another solo shot.
Micah Carpenter relieved on the mound for the bottom of the 7th, and got out of further trouble. The Eagles stranded 8 runners between the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings, probably driving their coach crazy. Robert Winborne pitched next for Tech, a mercifully quick 1-2-3 inning. In the top of the ninth, Johnson hit his third home run of the game, this time a two-run shot to give Georgia Tech a 10-2 lead. Ben Schniederjans came in to close it out, and did so after giving up a run to make the final 10-3.
No doubt who is the player of the game with 3 HR’s – Kel Johnson. Datoc got the win in vulture fashion, turning the tables on Parr. Austin Wilhite’s red hot start at the plate came to an end, but juniors Johnson and Wade Bailey each had three hits. The Eagles out-hit the Jackets 14-13, but the aforementioned stranded runners and two GS errors made the difference.
Tech heads home to face Youngstown State Friday through Sunday, and won’t leave the Atlanta area again until the weekend of March 10th (when they’ll open ACC play in Coral Gables against Miami). Their only road game between now and then is a weeknight game at Kennesaw State.