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May 27, 2012
GREENSBORO, N.C. (theACC.com) - Georgia Tech ran the table at Greensboro's NewBridge Bank Park, defeating Miami 8-5 Sunday to capture the 2012 ACC Baseball Championship. Tech won all four games in Greensboro and became the first eighth seed to win the title.
The Yellow Jackets jumped to a big early lead, survived a Miami comeback in the middle of the game and salted it away down the stretch.
Georgia Tech (36-24) got to Miami (36-21) starter Javi Salas in the first inning. The first six batters reached base on two doubles, three singles and a walk. The first four scored and it could have been worse had a baserunning blunder not led to a flyball double play.
Miami coach Jim Morris said that Salas had been solid all season before this shaky outing. "He hasn't done that all year. He threw some balls down the middle of the plate and they hit them."
Winning coach Danny Hall said the early lead put pressure on Miami and allowed him to manage his bullpen.
Miami began to claw back in the first off Tech's starter, freshman Josh Heddinger, who was making his seventh career start. Dale Carey singled with one out, stole second and scored on Brad Fieger's single.
Miami's defense faltered in the second. Leadoff hitter Connor Lynch reached on an error and advanced to third on a single and walk. Jake Davies hit a sharp, one-out grounder to first. Peter O'Brien double-clutched and was late on his throw home.
Mott Hyde extended Tech's lead to 6-1 when he led off the third with a home run, his seventh of the season. The Yellow Jackets got sloppy later in the third. Kyle Wren was picked off first base with two on and one out, hurting a chance to extend their lead.
In the bottom half of the inning, Stephen Perez reached on an error and advanced to second on a Carey single. Heddinger threw a pair of wild pitches--the second scoring Perez--before walking Chantz Mack. After throwing a ball to Fieger, Heddinger was lifted for Jarrett Didrick. Fieger drove in Carey with a sacrifice fly. Rony Rodriguez kept the rally alive with a single, advancing Mack to third. Didrick worked out of the jam, getting O'Brien to ground into a double play.
Hall hoped to keep Didrick (2-0) in the bullpen longer, but the converted outfielder gave Tech four solid innings in earning the win.
Clutch pitching by Miami's bullpen kept it close in the middle innings. Tech stranded a pair of runners in the fourth and left the bases full in the fifth.
Miami continued to chip away at the lead, again aided by Georgia Tech. Stephen Perez led off the fifth with a walk, stole second and scored on an error by Davies at first base to cut the Tech lead to 6-4. A wild pitch and walk prolonged the inning, bringing up O'Brien. For the second time, Didrick retired the Miami slugger in a clutch situation, this time on a fly ball to right.
Miami DH Michael Broad led off the sixth with his fourth home run of the season, cutting the lead to 6-5. The blast was Broad's first hit of the tournament.
Miami appeared to have all the momentum until Tech regained in it the seventh, with a big helping of Zane Evans. With one out, Sam Dove singled and Brandon Thomas walked. Miami brought in lefty A.J. Salcines to face Davies and Daniel Palka, both left-handed sluggers. Salcines struck out Davies but hit Palka, loading the bases. Evans finally got the big hit Tech had been waiting for, lashing a two-run single.
"I knew we needed some more runs," Evans said. "Once I got that hit, we were a lot more confident."
Hall started Evans - his regular catcher - at DH with the expectation that he might have to pitch him in the ninth. Instead, he put Evans on the mound to begin the seventh.
"I didn't anticipate putting him in that early," said Hall. "When he went in the game was over. He dominated the game on the mound."
Evans is one of a number of position players who have stepped up on the mound after arm injuries ended the seasons of four of Tech's top pitchers.
Georgia Tech won its first ACC title since 2005. "I'm so proud of my team," said Hall. "I thought we played great baseball all week. We played our best baseball. We got timely hits when we needed them, we made plays when we needed to, we got pitches when we needed to, we got contributions from everybody. Things just clicked."
The Yellow Jackets batted .329 over four games, with 13 doubles, a triple and seven home runs. Davies drove in 11 runs, two shy of the all-time tournament record, and Evans knocked in 10.
Miami's disappointment was moderated when it learned that it will be one of five ACC teams hosting NCAA action later this week. Florida State, North Carolina, NC State and Virginia also got the good news.
Davies was named the tournament MVP. He was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Evans (catcher), Thomas Smith (second base) and Thomas (outfield).
Two Hurricanes made the team, outfielder Chantz Mack and pitcher Eric Whaley.
Rounding out the team were Clemson first baseman Jon McGibbon, NC State third baseman Trea Turner, Florida State shortstop Justin Gonzalez, Virginia outfielder Colin Harrington and NC State pitcher Carlos Rodon.
2012 All-Tournament Team
C - Zane Evans, Georgia Tech
1B - Jon McGibbon, Clemson
2B - Thomas Smith, Georgia Tech
3B - Trea Turner, NC State
SS - Justin Gonzalez, Florida State
OF - Chantz Mack, Miami
OF - Colin Harrington, Virginia
OF - Brandon Thomas, Georgia Tech
UT - Jake Davies, Georgia Tech
P - Carlos Rodon, NC State
P - Eric Whaley, Miami
Tournament MVP - Jake Davies, Georgia Tech