Ninth-Inning Rally Propels Georgia Tech Over Florida State

May 22, 2013

 

DURHAM, N.C. - Georgia Tech, one out from defeat in the opening game of the 2013 ACC Baseball Tournament, got back-to-back home runs off one of the top closers in the conference to snatch a 4-3 victory over Florida State Wednesday at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park.

The Seminoles appeared to be headed for victory when D.J. Stewart tripled in the bottom of the eighth, then raced home on a short pop that was caught just feet off in the infield. That broke a 2-2 tie and put the game in the hands of relief ace Robby Coles (L, 4-2), who was 9-for-10 on save opportunities with a 1.16 ERA this season.

The junior right-hander quickly retired the first two Georgia Tech batters, but after throwing a strike past first baseman A.J. Murray, Coles delivered a fastball that Murray lofted just over the Blue Monster in leftfield for a game-tying home run.

It was the first home run that Coles had allowed in 31 innings this season.

It took him just two pitches to serve up another - this one an 0-1 slider that shortstop Mott Hyde also lofted over the Blue Monster - about 20 feet left of Murray's blast.

"You just have to understand that it's a 27-out game - you never know," FSU coach Mike Martin said. "You have to tip your hat to Georgia Tech. That was just a great job of perseverance and fight."

Daniel Palka (W, 2-1), who relieved Georgia Tech starter Buck Farmer in the eighth, pitched a perfect bottom of the ninth.

Much of the game looked like a pitcher's duel between Farmer and Florida State right-hander Scott Sitz.

The Jackets got to Sitz for a pair of runs in the fourth, sparked by a leadoff triple by Thomas and a two-out RBI single by Hyde. But the Seminoles answered with two runs off Farmer in the sixth. The key blow was a double by Stewart.

The freshman outfielder led off the eighth with a shot to right center that came within inches of clearing the railing. He scored anyway on catcher Stephen McGee's short pop-up to second baseman Thomas Smith. Steward said that he was poised to try for home when he saw Smith backpedaling as he made the catch.

"I was mad at our right fielder for not calling the second baseman off," Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall said. "It looked like we were going to lose on a defensive mistake."

Instead, the Jackets prevailed thanks to the late power by two guys who had combined to hit just nine home runs in Tech's previous 56 games. But Hyde has made a habit of supplying surprising power - earlier this season he blasted a game-winning homer to beat North Carolina and a year ago, he hit two home runs in the ACC Championship.

Georgia Tech (34-23) will be in action again against Virginia Thursday morning at 11 a.m. Florida State (44-13) will try to bounce back Thursday at 7 p.m. against Virginia Tech.