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Baseball: Georgia Tech Gets Much-Needed Sweep of Pittsburgh

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The team’s first series sweep of the year couldn’t have come at a better time.

Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics

One of the teams Tech needs to catch to make the ACC tournament, Pitt came in at 21-21 (8-13). They led the Jackets by two games with nine to play. They had a modest winning streak of four games, and had actually played five games since the Jackets previously played on April 28th.

Saturday: Georgia Tech 8, Pittsburgh 7

On the day that Jonathan King, Coleman Poje, and Ryan Peurifoy graduated from the Institute, Xzavion Curry (5-4, 4.95) pitched against red-shirt junior left hander Josh Mitchell. Nick Wilhite played the first inning in center field because Ryan Peurifoy was late coming in from graduation.

Pitt struck first when Jacob Wright hit a home run over the right field wall with two on and two outs in the top of the 2nd. The previous pitch appeared to be strike three, but wasn’t called. They added another in the 3rd on two singles and two sacrifice flies.

After Pitt loaded the bases with no outs in the 5th, Peurifoy made a fantastic diving catch for out one but wasn't able to get the runner at home. It was 5-0 and Mitchell had a three hit shutout going.

Brandt Stallings, back from being injured, broke up the shutout with a leadoff homer to left in Tech’s 5th. Next, Bailey singled and Craport tripled him in with one out, then Bart singled in Craport to make it 5-3. After Johnson walked, Mitchell’s day was suddenly over and Sam Mersing came in to pitch. An error loaded the bases, and Wilhite hit into a fielder's choice to drive in another run. Then Peurifoy got an infield single to tie it up at five.

Jared Datoc came in to pitch the 6th for the Jackets, with both starters off the hook for a decision.

The Panthers regained the lead in the 7th with two singles, a bunt and RBI sacrifice fly. But, Kel Johnson took care of the situation in the bottom of the 7th by hitting a homer over the center field wall with Bart on base to put Tech ahead. After Wilhite doubled, Pitt brought in Chris Gomez to face Peurifoy. Ryan reached on an error, but Gomez retired Stallings and Murray to preserve the score at 7-6 in favor of Tech.

In Pitt’s 9th, a leadoff double led to the tying run scoring on a single. Datoc quickly picked off the runner on first and struck out the next batter, but the damage was done.

The Jackets were undaunted, and Coleman Poje led off with a single and was bunted to 2nd by Wilhite. After Peurifoy was intentionally walked, Stallings singled to load the bases with one out. Freshman Chase Murray then hit a liner to right, deep enough that new graduate Poje could tag and score the winning run. Datoc got the 8-7 win, Gomez the loss. Every Jacket batter either scored and/or drove in a run.

Sunday: Georgia Tech 4, Pittsburgh 3

Keyton Gibson (1-2, 6.84) went for Tech versus freshman right hander Dan Hammer.

The top of the first was scary, with Gibson walking two before he threw a strike. But, then he got a blessed double play grounder to put a runner on third with two outs. He hit the next batter, but got out of the inning on a grounder to second. Again in the top of the 3rd, two Panthers reached base, one on an error and one on the first hit of the game. But, Gibson picked off the first one and got another double play ground ball to end the inning, still scoreless.

Tech broke through in their 3rd, when McCann reached on an error and went to second on a bloop single by Murray. After Bailey bunted them over, Craport sacrificed McCann in with a fly ball to left, then Bart singled in Murray from second to make it 2-0 after three.

The Jackets hurt themselves badly in the top of the 5th after a leadoff double by Pazos. A bunt was thrown away by Gibson, leading to the runner scoring and the bunter being thrown out by Poje at third. Next, an infield ground ball deflected off Gibson to Craport, who threw wide to first, allowing the runner to second. He then went to third on a wild pitch and scored on another wild pitch to tie the game at two, one pitch before out three.

The Jackets answered with an infield single by Murray and a triple in the right field corner by Bailey to make it 3-2. Bailey unwisely tried to score on a Craport groundout, and was thrown out at home easily. Bailey Combs came in to pitch the 6th. He got in trouble with a walk and double before handling a squeeze bunt attempt for out one at home. He then got a strikeout and fly ball out to preserve the 3-2 lead – a gutsy pitching performance. He got through Pitt in their 7th 1-2-3.

The Jackets got some insurance in their 7th when Peurifoy doubled, went to third on McCann’s single, and scored on Murray’s sacrifice fly. After Hammer balked McCann to second, he was relieved by Isaac Mattson with two outs and Bailey batting, who struck out with Tech leading 4-2.

Combs was relieved by Micah Carpenter with runner on the corners and one out in the top of the 8th. A run scored on a sacrifice fly before a ground ball for out three with the lead down to one. After Tech stranded a couple of base runners in their 8th, Zac Ryan came in to try to close. He did so with a fly ball, strikeout, and grounder, earning the save and overcoming his recent struggles. Gibson got the win, Hammer the loss.

Monday: Georgia Tech 3, Pittsburgh 2

Josh Falk, (3-5, 3.04), a right handed senior, pitched for Pitt against Jake Lee (2-2, 7.09).

Tech scored first when Bailey singled and Craport doubled to lead off. Peurifoy drove in Bailey with a fly ball to right, and Craport scored on a passed ball to make it 2-0. They added another in the 2nd when Wilhite doubled to lead off, went to third on a Murray bunt, and scored when the second baseman made an error on a Bailey grounder.

In Pitt’s 4th, they led off with a single and then got another single and a double after one out to score their first run. Lee fought back with a pop out to first and a strikeout to preserve the 3-1 lead. The Jackets answered with one of their own in the bottom of the 4th when Wilhite led off with a triple and scored on Stallings’ single through the drawn-in infield.

Sam Messing relieved Falk for the Tech 7th and retired the Jackets. Jake Lee came back for the 8th, but was relieved by Zac Ryan after a leadoff single. He had pitched his best game back by far. Ryan got two quick strikeouts, but then surrendered two singles to score a run, before getting a final strikeout on a 3-2 count. Tech led 4-2, but quickly got the run back in their 8th when Peurifoy singled, Johnson reached on an error, and Poje bunted them over. After Wilhite lined out, Murray got a clutch two out hit up the middle to score Peurifoy. Pitt brought in Chris Gomez to face Stallings and he got him to pop up.

Ryan came back for the 9th and finished the game and sweep with a strikeout and two grounders to second. The last one appeared to be a certain hit, but Bailey somehow got to it and threw out the runner by a step. Lee got the well earned win, Ryan the save, and Falk the loss.

Bottom Line

Tech’s first series sweep of the year came at the best possible time. The Jackets started Saturday two games behind Pittsburgh in 13th place. Tonight they are tied with Duke for 9th place and hold a one game lead over the Panthers with the tie breaker. Good signs include the excellent pitching by several Jackets, especially Gibson, Lee, Datoc, Combs, and Ryan. The memorable thing for me is that Tech avoided the big inning by their opponents, while driving in runs of their own with two outs numerous times. Next, they face uga at SunTrust Park Tuesday then travel to Duke for another crucial series.