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Baseball: Georgia Tech Drops Final Regular Season Series to #8 Virginia

Despite a series-opening win and a furious Senior Day comeback, the Jackets came up short in the final series of the season.

Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics

The Cavaliers visited Russ Chandler for the final ACC series holding a 39-12 (16-11) record. The Jackets, at 26-24 (19-17), needed to win at least one to feel happy about staying in the ACC tournament, while two wins would clinch a berth.

Thursday: Georgia Tech 14, #8 Virginia 7

Xzavion Curry (5-4, 5.35) pitched against Sophomore left hander Daniel Lynch (6-3, 5.37). Joey Bart continued to be out injured, but Chase Murray was able to play as DH.

Both teams scored in the 1st, UVA on a homerun and Tech on a walk, single, bunt, and groundout to make it 1-1. In the bottom of the 2nd, Nick Wilhite drove in his brother from 3rd with a groundout after Austin singled and went to third on Stallings’ double. Next, Bailey got his 200th career hit by singling in Stallings to make it 3-1. Wade later was thrown out at home when he tried to score on Craport’s single.

Virginia made it 3-2 with a leadoff double and RBI sacrifice fly in their 4th. Tech got the run back when Austin Wilhite scored on a double play hit into by Nick Wilhite, but the Jackets had hoped for much more after loading the bases with no outs. So, they led 4-2 after four.

In the 5th, Jake McCarthy hit his second homer, this a two run blast to center to tie the game. Next batter Adam Haseley matched him to suddenly make it 5-4 UVA. The Jackets loaded the bases again in their 5th, this time with one out. Sadly, Austin Wilhite hit a soft liner to 2nd that doubled up Peurifoy to end the inning, Tech still trailing.

The Jackets tied it up in their 6th, when Virginia put Stallings on with their third error of the game and Bailey singled him in from 2nd after Murray bunted him over. Next, Craport doubled Bailey to 3rd and Lynch was relieved by left handed Bennett Sousa with two outs. He intentionally walked Peurifoy to bring McCann up and he walked him to give Tech a 6-5 lead. Poje then singled in two more runs and Austin Wilhite got an RBI single despite a fantastic play by the shortstop. Stallings next singled, but Poje was thrown out at home, Tech leading 9-5 after six. Only three of the Jackets’ runs were earned.

Curry was relieved by Connor Thomas for the 7th. He gave up a couple of singles and a walk to load the bases with one out. That situation called for Jared Datoc, who surrendered a run on a sacrifice fly before a called strike three third out. Tech led 9-6. After Datoc retired the Cavaliers 1-2-3 in their 8th, right handed Jack Roberts came in to pitch. He walked Craport and Peurifoy, with Craport moving to third on a passed ball. He next walked McCann on four pitches to bring up Poje. Virginia, looking more like what Jacket fans are all to familiar with, went to sidearm right handed Tyler Shambora. Poje drove in Craport with a sacrifice fly – not very deep to right, but enough. Austin Wilhite next singled in Peurifoy to make it 11-6. Then, Shambora issued the fourth and fifth walks of the inning to make it 12-6, still loaded. Bailey singled in two more on the first pitch he saw, and the Cavaliers went to the bullpen again. Right hander Teddy Paisley came in and got out three.

Bailey Combs came in for Datoc, who had only thrown 15 pitches and could still be available tomorrow. He gave up a run on a single and one out RBI double, then issued a walk before coaxing a game ending double play. Curry got the win, Lynch the loss.

Friday: #8 Virginia 16, Georgia Tech 3

Keyton Gibson (2-2, 6.37) pitched against right handed junior Derek Casey.

Things started off really badly, with four ground ball singles, three walks and an error on first bases making it 6-0 before Tech ever batted. After Gibson loaded the bases again with one out with a single, walk, and hit batsman, he was relieved by Micah Carpenter. Three more runs scored before he retired the Cavaliers to make it 9-0.

Kyle McCann led off the Tech 2nd with a solo homerun to make it 9-1. In the Tech 3rd, Wade Bailey homered with Innis on base to make it 9-3. Carpenter shut down Virginia in the 3rd through 5th innings, aided by a really nice play by Poje at first base in the 5th that saved a run. Robert Winborne came in for the 6th. He struck out the first batter, but the ball got away allowing him to reach first. He retired the Cavaliers anyway, helped by McCann throwing out a base stealer. It was still 9-3.

What Tech couldn't afford – UVA scoring – occurred in their 7th with three more runs on two doubles and three singles before Andy Archer came in to pitch with the Jackets trailing 12-3 and two on with one out. He gave up one more run before Craport made a super play to get out three, the Jackets trailing by 10 runs. Casey, meanwhile, seemed to get stronger and only gave up three runs on three hits through seven. Jonathan King pitched for Tech in the 8th, but gave up a three run homer. Garrett Gooden relieved him and retired the Cavaliers without further damage, but it was a sad 16-3.

Riley Wilson pitched the 8th for Virginia and Jonathan Hughes pitched for Tech in the 9th, both without scoring. Hughes being effective would be very helpful for Tech going forward. The Jackets came up for the last time with Wilson still pitching. The Jackets went down quietly, evening the series. Casey got the win, Gibson the loss. Tech pitchers issued nine walks, hit two, threw two wild pitches, and the team committed two errors – all the bad things they didn't do in Thursday’s win. A game to forget – and quickly.

Saturday: #8 Virginia 10, Georgia Tech 9

Senior players Jonathan King, Keenan Innis, Ryan Peurifoy, Coleman Poje, Zac Ryan and senior WREK announcer Wiley Ballard were honored before the game. Perhaps Ben Parr intends to redshirt, since he is listed as a senior, but has been injured. Connor Thomas (0-1, 10.12) went up against Sophomore right hander Evan Sperling. Jake Lee is being held for the ACC tournament.

Virginia scored thrice in their 1st on two singles, a walk, and a bases clearing double. Wade Bailey caught a liner and doubled the runner off second to limit the damage, but the Cavaliers led 3-0. Tech got two back on Bailey's leadoff homer and Poje’s two out RBI single. Then, UVA got a run back with a solo homer by Novak in their 2nd.

Tech scored a run on a wild pitch in their 2nd, but left the bases loaded when McCann fouled out, trailing 4-3. Virginia went to reliever Bettinger in the 3rd and Tech brought in Schneiderjans in the 4th, still trailing 4-3. After a couple of hits with two outs, disaster struck when Schniederjans had the runner picked off at first, but the ball got by Poje, allowing a run to score and then two more scored on a double and a single to make it 7-3. Next a two run homer blew it open at 9-3. Schneiderjans came back for the 5th and Combs pitched the 6th for Tech with no scoring.

In the Tech 6th, Paxton Rigby doubled and scored on Nick Wilhite's single. Wilhite later scored on Peurifoy’s sacrifice fly before Virginia brought in Sousa to pitch with two on and two out. After McCann walked, Poje blasted a grand slam to deepest center, tying the game at 9. Jared Datoc came in to pitch and retired the Cavaliers 1-2-3. After two outs on Tech, UVA brought in Tommy Doyle to face Bailey.

In Tech's 8th, they missed a golden opportunity when Peurifoy singled and McCann walked. Poje bunted Peurifoy to 3rd, but Wilhite and Rigby failed to bring him in. Zac Ryan came in to pitch the 9th to Virginia, still tied. The leadoff batter walked and moved to third when a bouncing ball grazed off Rigby’s glove for a single. He scored on a sacrifice fly to make it 10-9. Bailey singled with two outs in the 9th, going 4 for 5 on the day, but Craport hit a fly ball to end the game. Doyle got the win, Ryan the loss.

Bottom Line

The Jackets surely did the right thing saving Jake Lee for the tournament, since those games must be won to make the NCAA’s. Connor Thomas has been thrown into the fire of D1 baseball, far different from Tift County, and it should pay off for him later. The Jackets fell way down, battled back all the way, but just couldn't seal the deal. They did enough in the second half of the season to make the tournament – admittedly not a high bar.

Now they go to Louisville tied with BC (but holding the tie-breaker) for the 10th seed, and will be playing for their post season lives against Wake Forest and Miami. The Jackets won one of three against each on the road, so should feel somewhat confident. Tech has to go 2-0 to advance.