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Baseball: Yellow Jackets Drop Opening Series of ACC Play to Miami

Pitching continues to be a major issue for Georgia Tech, particularly on Sundays.

Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics

This weekend, the Jackets made their first out-of-state trip of the season to Coral Gables, opening the ACC season against a Miami team that had seriously struggled to start the season & sported a 4-8 record. The Hurricanes had lost 4 of 5 coming in, including losing two out of three to Dartmouth the previous weekend and being swept in a Tuesday/Wednesday series by FIU. However, the Jackets have had little success against their former coach Jim Morris in the past two years, going 1-6 including a 2016 tournament loss, and really needed to take advantage of Miami’s struggles. I got this account from watching online and listening to WREK.

Friday: Miami 10, Georgia Tech 8

W: Albert Maury, Jr. (1-0) | L: Xzavion Curry (3-1) | S: Frankie Bartow (3)

The Jackets kept Xzavion Curry (3-0, 1.69 ERA) on the mound as their Friday starter against righty Jesse Lapore (1-2, 0.90 ERA), who had gotten little run support, losing his previous two starts 1-0 each.

The Hurricanes strong this time though, with leadoff batter James Davison tripling and scoring on a ground out to give an early lead. Next, Carl Chester singled and advanced all the way to third on a bad pick off throw. He scored on a sacrifice fly to make it a 2-0 Miami lead.

The bottom of the 2nd again started poorly for Georgia Tech with a walk and an error, putting Hurricanes on the corners with no outs. A perfect bunt scored the man from third and left everyone safe – the second bunt single of the inning, leaving the Jackets looking rattled. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners over, before a wild pitch pushed Miami’s lead to 4-0. Curry got out without any further damage when he struck out the inning’s final two batters to strand a runner at third.

The Jackets broke through in the 3rd when Joey Bart hit his 8th homer of the year, driving in Trevor Craport to make it 4-2. Unfortunately, in the bottom of the frame Miami got a leadoff double, walk, and one-out triple to restore their 4-run lead.

The Jackets got going in the top of the 5th with one-out hits by Wade Bailey, Craport, Bart, and Kel Johnson. When Lapore hit Kyle McCann to load the bases, he was pulled for freshman relief pitcher Albert Maury. Coleman Poje rudely welcomed the new hurler with his third hit of the night, doubling down the third base line to tie the game at 6. Tech wasn’t finished, with Chase Murray hitting a fly ball deep enough to score McCann and make it 7-6 Jackets.

Unfortunately, the lead didn’t last for even one out. In the bottom of the 5th, Chester singled and scored on a Romy Gonzalez triple, Miami’s third of the game. When a tiring Curry hit the next batter, his night was also done and Jared Datoc came in. He got a fielder’s choice out, but the ‘Canes scored on the play to regain the lead. A single and a pair of walks loaded the bases, but Datoc notched an inning-ending strikeout to end the threat. Miami led once again, this time 8-7.

After a pair of scoreless innings (which also saw Micah Carpenter pitch the 7th for Georgia Tech) Miami brought Andrew Cabezas in to pitch to Tech in the top of the 8th. He struck out the side, before Miami added what would prove to be two crucial insurance runs off of Carpenter in the bottom of the 8th to make it 10-7. It was the first time the Hurricanes had scored double-digit runs all year.

Miami brought their closer Frankie Bartow in to finish it. The Jackets didn’t go easy, loading the bases with no outs before Johnson struck out on a 3-2 count and McCann hit a sacrifice fly to cut the lead to 10-8. Poje walked to load the bases again, and Murray came up as Tech’s final chance. He hit it well, but right at the left fielder and the Jackets fell to 0-1 in ACC play.

Curry suffered his first loss of the year, Maury got the win and Bartow got the shaky save. Craport went 4-for-5, Poje 3-for-4, and Bart 2-for-4, as the Jackets out-hit Miami 12 to 10. Unfortunately, 7 walks, 2 hit batsmen, and 2 errors proved to be damning.

Saturday: Georgia Tech 7, Miami 5 (11 Innings)

W: Zac Ryan (1-0) | L: Andrew Cabezas (0-1) | S: Burton Dulaney (1)

Georgia Tech sent sophomore Jonathan Hughes (1-0, 2.25 ERA) to the hill against the Hurricanes’ junior transfer Jeb Bargfeldt (1-1, 2.55 ERA).

After a pair of scoreless innings to start the game where the two teams combined for 5 stranded runners, the Jackets broke through in the top of the 3rd when Joey Bart and Coleman Poje each continued their hot hitting with two-out doubles to give Georgia Tech a 1-0 lead.

Yellow Jacket pitchers continued to be their own worst enemies in the bottom of the inning, as Hughes loaded the bases by hitting the leadoff batter and walking two more before a sacrifice fly tied the game at 1.

After two quick outs in the top of the 4th, the Jackets loaded the bases, but red-hot Joey Bart was unable to capitalize and struck out to end the inning. In the bottom of the frame, Miami took the lead on a bloop double and two groundouts, followed by a solo home run by Joe Gomez, his first of the season, to make it 3-1.

After Tech went quietly in their 5th, Ben Schneiderjans relieved Hughes. Miami added a run, but stranded the bases loaded, thanks to some gutsy pitching by Schniederjans and a great play by Austin Wilhite. Robert Winborne relieved Schniederjans for the 6th and Albert Maury relieved Bargfeldt for the 7th. The comeback was on as the Jackets with Maury on the mound, with RBIs from Kel Johnson and Keenan Innis (pinch-hitting for Brandt Stallings), before Chase Murray drove in the tying run on a sacrifice fly. With two outs, the Hurricanes weren’t out of the woods yet, Peurifoy singled and scored Innis to give Tech a 5-4 lead. Maury was relieved by Keven Pimentel after 0.2 very busy innings, and Wilhite struck out to end the inning.

Zac Ryan came in to pitch for Tech in the bottom of the 7th, but was unable to record a three-inning save. After pitching out of a jam to leave the bases loaded in the 7th, Miami’s Carl Chester drove Joe Gomez for the tying run in the 8th.

Despite the teams combining for 3 hits and 3 walks between the 9th and 10th innings, the game remained tied at 5-5 until the top of the 11th. Tech scored two in the inning without a hit when Murray hit a hard grounder that the 1st baseman misplayed for an error, scoring Bart and Poje. After Gomez was hit by Burton Dulaney in Miami’s 11th (the THIRD time he had been hit in the game), the final out was Davison popping up.

Ryan got the win, Dulaney the save, and Cabezas took the loss as both teams moved to 1-1 in ACC play. Miami stranded 17 on base, Tech 13.

Sunday: Miami 17, Georgia Tech 7

W: Michael Mediavilla (1-3) | L: Jake Lee (0-1)

After poor Sunday starts the past two weeks from Keyton Gibson, sophomore RHP Jake Lee (0-0, 7.5 ERA) stepped in to face junior lefty Michael Mediavilla (0-3, 5.84 ERA) for the rubber match of the series.

Georgia Tech gave Lee a 1-0 lead out of the gate when Wade Bailey hit a leadoff home run, his first bomb of the season. That lead was erased on the second batter of the bottom of the 1st, as Johnny Ruiz singled in James Davison after the latter singled, stole second, and advanced to third on an error. It got worse as Wilhite couldn’t handle a pair of grounders that each allowed a run. With the score a 3-1 Miami lead, Lee finally seemed to settle down and stranded the bases loaded.

Miami tacked on a run in their 2nd to make it 4-1 and continued to score seemingly at will in the 3rd on a two-run homer by Edgar Michelangeli. After another single, Robert Winborne relieved Lee and gave up yet another run before getting out of the inning. Miami’s lead was extended out to 7-1.

Tech chipped away with doubles by Poje, Murray and Peurifoy in the 4th to make it 7-3. Andy Archer came on for Winborne to slow down Miami in the 4th and succeeded, before Burton Dulaney came in to face the Canes for their 5th and allowed 2 runs (only 1 earned). After an RBI double, Jared Datoc came in with one out. Later in the inning, Datoc gave up a ninth run to a team which had been averaging 2.5 per game coming into the series. Things looked bleak as Georgia Tech trailed 9-3 through 5 innings.

Tech chipped away a bit in their 6th, when Peurifoy’s solo homer made it 9-4.

Jay Shadday came in to face Miami in the bottom of the 6th and scored a 1-2-3 inning. He was promptly replaced by Nick Wilhite (making his first collegiate appearance) in the bottom of the 7th. Wilhite quickly loaded the bases before being relieved by Micah Carpenter, who gave up a grand slam to Burns to make it a 13-4 deficit for the Yellow Jackets.

Chase Murray hit a 2-run homer in the 8th to close the gap to 13-6. Garrett Gooden pitched to start the Miami 8th, but gave up 2 runs and left the bases loaded without recording an out. Coach Hall made his ninth (and final) pitching change of the game when he went to Keyton Gibson, who coaxed a run-scoring double play before giving up another run on a wild pitch to push Miami’s lead to an insurmountable 17-6. In the top of the 9th, Poje blasted a monster shot over the left field wall to make the final 17-7.

Mediavilla got the win, Lee the loss. Georgia Tech finished their opening series at 1-2 in ACC play.

Bottom Line

Tech was badly outplayed this weekend and was fortunate to not get swept. Across the weekend, the Jackets made 8 errors, walked 23, hit 11 batters, struck out 37 times, and left 30 on base. I could probably list more negative stats, but you get the picture — it’s hard to win like that. Miami is probably sorry to see us leave — they had scored 30 runs all year in 12 games, and scored 32 across three games this weekend!

Several players did have good weekends, notably Poje and Bart, and the team did score 22 runs, which should – with decent pitching and defense - get a series win or sweep.

Hopefully, Tech can regroup and get motivated quickly, because two hot teams are coming to Russ Chandler next week. The Jackets host red-hot #13 Oklahoma on Tuesday at 4:00pm. The Sooners are 17-2 and have won 16 of their last 17 behind excellent pitching and defense, although this will be their first road game of the year (nearly a month into the season). Next weekend, Georgia Tech continues ACC play when they host #10 UNC (12-4, 2-1), who are fresh off of a series win over #7 Virginia.