Georgia Tech Wins 2014 #ACCBase Championship

(Photo by Sara D. Davis for theACC.com)

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Georgia Tech pulls away late to claim ACC Baseball Championship

GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) – Georgia Tech nailed down its ninth Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship on Sunday, and no one could accuse the Yellow Jackets of doing it the easy way.

Forced to play five games in six days as the tournament’s No. 9 seed, coach Danny Hall’s team met the challenge and closed the deal with an 9-4 win over sixth-seeded Maryland in Sunday’s title game at NewBridge Bank Park.

The Yellow Jackets (36-25) became the highest seed to win the ACC Championship (Tech set the previous standard by winning as the No. 8 seed here two years ago) and earned the conference’s automatic bid to the 2014 NCAA tournament. 

“It's very satisfying, and I can't say enough about my guys,” Hall said. “They believed, they made it happen and, you know, as long as they believe, we have a chance to do well against just about anybody.” 

The title is the fifth for the Yellow Jackets under Hall, who tied Mike Martin (Florida State) and Jim Morris (Georgia Tech and Miami) for the second-most by a league coach in the 41 years the ACC has determined its champion via a tournament format. The late Bill Wilhelm of Clemson holds the record with seven.

Maryland (36-21), competing its final ACC Championship before joining the Big Ten next season, reached its second title game and its first since 1976. The Terrapins, who own an 11-2 record in the month of May, are likely to receive an at-large NCAA berth when selections are announced Monday at noon.

“It’s kind of a tough day, but one that hopefully tomorrow at this time we will be able to clearly put behind us and look toward next weekend,” Maryland coach John Szefc said. “I think this tournament, as unfortunate as it ended for us, has prepared us for the NCAA Tournament.”

Georgia Tech senior pitcher Dusty Isaacs – who ironically did not appear in Sunday’s game – was voted the Championship MVP. Isaacs recorded a win, two saves and 8 1/3 scoreless innings as the Yellow Jackets posted a 4-1 record in five tournament games.

“It's a great personal award, but I'm proud of the team as a whole and the way we fought and played pretty consistent for five games,” Isaacs said. “Really, really proud of the guys, especially the young guys who have never been here before.” 

Sunday’s game was tied at 4-4 before the Yellow Jackets pulled away with three runs in the top of the eighth inning and then tacked on two more in the top of the ninth. 

Georgia Tech collected 13 hits – seven of which were doubles – off five Maryland pitchers. Designated hitter A.J. Murray went 3-for-4 and drove in three runs. Matt Gonzalez finished 4-for-5 at the plate, and Thomas Smith was 3-for-4.

Jonathan Roberts, the third of five Yellow Jacket pitchers, worked one scoreless inning to pick up his first win in three decisions.

That's the way to do it, when you're the ninth seed – take all the doubt out of it and win the Tournament, and you're in (the NCAAs),” Hall said. 

Kevin Mooney (1-2) took the loss for the Terps. Mooney, who has performed in the closer’s role most of the season, yielded three runs in the eighth inning, the first of which scored on his throwing error to first after fielding a bunt by Gonzalez. Connor Justice followed with a two-run single that gave Tech a 7-4 lead.

The Yellow Jackets added their final two runs in the top of the ninth on an RBI double by Gonzalez and Murray’s run-scoring single.

Prior to Georgia Tech’s fast finish, it had been a game of back-and-forth.

With RBI doubles by Thomas Smith and A.J. Murray in the first inning accounting for two quick runs, and a run-scoring single by Murray in the fourth plating another, Georgia Tech led 3-2 as the game headed into the bottom of the sixth.

But Blake Schmit, whose first home of the season off the top of the left field wall had accounted for Maryland’s first run in the second inning, led off with a walk. Tim Lewis and Nick Cieri followed with base hits, and then Anthony Papio delivered his second RBI single of the game to tie the score at 3-3. Lewis then raced home from third on Kevin Martir’s double-play ground ball to give the Terps their first lead of the afternoon at 4-3.

Georgia Tech pulled back even the top of the seventh when Brandon Gold led off with a double, took third on Ryan Peurifoy’s sacrifice bunt and scored on Mitch Earnest’s sacrifice fly to right. Roberts set the Terps down in order in the bottom of the inning, setting the stage for the Yellow Jackets’ title-winning finish.

“Our bullpen has been pretty good all year,” Szefc said. “I can’t knock our bullpen. Unfortunately, it wasn't there today, but we wouldn't be here at this point if it wasn't for those guys down there that have done a very good job.”

On the whole, Szefc labeled the week a positive experience for his team.

“Hopefully we will get something out of this, and I think we have a chance to do well in the NCAA regional coming out of this tournament,” he said. “I think the tournament was run very, very well by the ACC. People were very professional and it was a great week for our guys, and our program in general, families. 
 
“Outside of not winning this thing, I have no regrets whatsoever about coming down here.  Our program grew by leaps and bounds this week.” 

2014 #ACCBase All-Tournament Team
C Kevin Martir Maryland
1B LaMonte Wade Maryland
2B Mott Hyde Georgia Tech
3B Landon Lassiter North Carolina
SS Blake Schmit Maryland
OF Ryan Deitrich Duke
OF Daniel Spingola Georgia Tech
OF Dale Carey Miami
Util/DH Nick Howard Virginia
P Drew Van Orden Duke
P Dusty Isaacs (MVP) Georgia Tech