After a disappointing weekend series loss to Wake Forest, the Jackets attempted to turn their luck around on Tuesday with a quick midweek trip to Macon for a game against Mercer.
Tuesday: Georgia Tech 11, Mercer 3
W: Ben Schneiderjans (1-1) | L: Kevin Coulter (2-2)
Ben Schneiderjans (0-1, 3.14 ERA) went against Mercer Sophomore righty Kevin Coulter (2-1, 6.94 ERA) Tuesday in Macon at the newly remodeled ballpark. The Bears have probably the best team in the state right now with a record of 21-5. They have hit 42 home runs to Tech’s 37, both are among national leaders. Last year each team won on the road in the two-game series.
Tech shook up the batting order with Trevor Craport in the leadoff batting spot, and he answered with a single in the first. He was erased on a fielder’s choice, though he appeared clearly safe. Joey Bart singled after that, meaning the call had cost Tech a run. The Jackets were unable to get on the board in the first as Kel Johnson and Coleman Poje stranded the base runners.
The game took an all too familiar turn in the bottom of the 2nd when Schneiderjans hit the leadoff batter, then gave up a single and a sacrifice bunt. Poje made a nice catch on a fly ball, but the depth allowed the first run of the game to score. Tech answered when Wade Bailey led off the 3rd with a double and scored on a Bart single. After Johnson was hit by a pitch, Chase Murray doubled in Bart, and Wilhite singled in both Johnson and Murray to give a Tech a lead of 4-1, their largest lead in a couple of weeks. Mercer brought in sidearm righty Robert Broom to pitch.
Schneiderjans got a welcome shutdown bottom of the 3rd before the offense rewarded him in the 4th. Craport singled, and scored after Bailey bunted and Mercer made an errant throw to first. Bailey went all the way to 3rd after the ball rolled into the right field bullpen area. However, neither Johnson, Poje, nor Murray could drive him in so the score stayed 5-1. The Jackets had failed to blow it open. Schneiderjans returned with another 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the 4th and gave up a leadoff double in the 5th, but the base runner went no further.
Carter Varga came in to pitch for the Bears in the 6th, after Broom had pitched pretty well. Wade Bailey and Joey Bart rudely greeted him with back-to-back home runs. When Poje doubled with one out, Varga was relieved by lefty Christian Vann, who got two strikeouts to end the inning with Tech up 7-1. Jared Datoc was brought in for Schneiderjans, who had a very high-quality start. Datoc put up a nice 1-2-3 inning of his own.
The Jackets had Craport and Bailey on with two outs in the 7th, when Joey Bart blasted his second home run of the night to make it 10-1.
In the bottom of the 7th, Mercer sent five consecutive pinch hitters to the plate. Alex Crotty homered to right with a runner on, giving Mercer their third hit of the game, as well as their third run, making it a 10-3 lead for the Jackets. Large leads in college are not quite like similar leads in the majors.
Bailey Combs pitched for the Jackets in the bottom of the 8th and gave up a leadoff double to another pinch hitter, but shut that threat down immediately after. Mercer brought in Zach Graveno, who was coached by Georgia Tech’s Nick Scherer in summer ball, to pitch the 9th. Bailey doubled and Bart singled (making him 5-for-5 on the night) to put runners on the corners for pinch hitter Kyle McCann, who just missed a three run homer off his former HS teammate. McCann was able to drive in Bailey, though, to make it an 11-3 lead for Georgia Tech on a season-high 18 hits for the Yellow Jackets.
Micah Carpenter came in to try and close it out and gave up a walk before striking out the side to put a W on the board. Schneiderjans got the win, Coulter the loss.
A very nice and welcome victory over a team that traditionally gives Tech fits. The pitching from Schneiderjans, Datoc, Combs, and Carpenter was very much effective against a hot-hitting Bears team. The bats woke up for Tech, with a season high hit total and the first double digit run total since March 4th against Belmont. It was also the first win of more than two runs since then.
A very good Clemson team is coming to town this weekend and will require a solid and confident Jacket effort.