Georgia Tech Uses Five-Run Second to Move into Pool Play

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Yellow Jackets Sticking Around For Pool Play; Georgia Tech turns back Wake Forest, 5-3

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GREENSBORO, N.C. ( – Georgia Tech found NewBridge Bank Park to its liking when it last visited here for the 2012 Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship.

So far, so good for 2014 as well.

The ninth-seeded Yellow Jackets put up five runs in the top of the second inning, and that proved enough for a 5-3 win over eighth-seeded Wake Forest in Tuesday’s opening-round game.

In addition to picking up a win to enhance its NCAA postseason resume, Georgia Tech (33-24) earned a spot in the pool play section of the ACC Championship and will face top-seeded Miami in Wednesday’s 3 p.m. game. Wake Forest (30-26) was eliminated from the tournament with Tuesday’s loss.

“Like most of the games in the ACC this year that was a close one, hotly contested,” said Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall, whose team won the ACC Championship as the No. 8 seed here two years ago. “There was never a comfortable feeling in our dugout, and it seemed like they had guys on when (their key hitters) came to the plate, so you were never comfortable with any kind of lead.” 

Sam Clay (4-1), who worked three innings of four-hit, scoreless relief, picked up the win on the mound. Reliever Dusty Isaacs pitched 1 1/3 innings of perfect relief, including two strikeouts, to notch his sixth save.

Jack Fischer (4-7) started and took the loss for the Demon Deacons. Fischer yielded 11 hits and five earned runs. 

All of the significant damage came with two outs in the top of the second, when the Yellow Jackets pounded out six hits – including three for extra bases – to grab a 5-0 lead. Mitch Earnest’s RBI double plated the first run of the game, and back-to-back doubles by Daniel Spingola and Mott Hyde added three more. Matt Gonzalez added a run-scoring single to cap the big inning.

Wake Forest got on the board in the bottom of the third when Conor Keniry singled with one out, took second on a wild pitch and scored on Matt Conway’s single up the middle. The Demon Deacons closed within 5-3 in the bottom of the fifth on pinch-hitter Grant Shambley’s two-out, two-run single.

A nice bit of defensive work kept Wake Forest’s deficit at two runs in the top of the sixth. The Yellow Jackets’ Mitch Earnest singled with one out, and Spingola followed with a booming double. Deacon centerfielder Evan Stephens made a strong throw to the shortstop, Keniry, who nailed Earnest at the plate with a perfect relay.

But Georgia Tech turned two key double plays and matched the Demon Deacons’ defensive gem with one of its own in the bottom of the sixth. With Keniry at first base and two outs, Conway connected on a shot to center that carried well and appeared set to go for extra bases. But Georgia Tech’s Spingola ran down the ball and pulled it in on the dead run for the final out.

“It was obviously hit well, but I took a straight line to it and it kicked, got a little backspin on it so I had to go back on a sharp angle and thought it might beat me in the last second,” Spingola said. “I threw my hand up in the air and snagged it.  It was a little luck and a little speed, I guess, but, yeah, it was good.”

Both sides mounted mild threats in the latter innings, but Isaacs effectively shut the door with his solid relief stint, and the Yellow Jackets moved on to Wednesday afternoon.

“Obviously the five run inning hurt, but we battled back to get it 5 3 and we had a guy or two on base in the sixth, seventh and eighth with chances to score and couldn't get the big hit to go over the hump,” Wake Forest coach Tom Walter noted.  
Spingola finished 3-4 and drove in a pair of runs to lead Georgia Tech’s 13-hit attack. Hyde, Ryan Peurifoy and Mitch Earnest added two hits apiece for the Yellow Jackets, who have now won at least one game in 31 consecutive ACC Baseball Championships.

Wake Forest came up short despite collecting 11 hits. Stephens, Keniry, Conway and Nate Mondou had two hits each.