Photo by John Nakano

The baseball team beat Georgia in Athens on Tuesday by a score of 7-5 in its first of three matchups with the Bulldogs on the season. The No. 19 ranked Jackets have won three in a row as well as nine of their last 12 games against the rival Bulldogs, and will soon play them again at Turner Field on April 23. Tech’s record now stands at 24-9 as they head into a weekend series with Virginia, while Georgia dropped to 12-22 with the loss.

The Jackets used five pitchers in the game while the Bulldogs used seven of their own. Josh Heddinger took the win for Tech, pitching 1.2 innings in relief of starter Jonathan King. Zane Evans earned the save with a perfect ninth inning of work, retiring the side in order.

Evans, Sam Dove and Brandon Thomas each had a multi-hit game for Tech. It was the first game back for Thomas after missing the previous ten with mononucleosis. The team totaled 10 hits on the evening, with half of them consisting of doubles.

The Jackets gave up a run in the first but soon took the lead in the third inning off of an Evans double that scored Dove and Daniel Palka. The Bulldogs bounced back, scoring three runs in the next two innings to take a 4-2 lead at the end of the fourth. UGA left fielder Hunter Cole doubled to center field to bring home Curt Powell in the third, then catcher Zack Bowers homered in the fourth to score two.

The Jackets’ bats then lit up the fifth inning and gave the team the lead for good. Kyle Wren began the inning with a bunt single and advanced to third on a double by Dove. Another double by Thomas brought those two runners home. Thomas would later score from third off a single by Evans, and by the end of the inning the Jackets were up 5-4.

A.J. Murray led off the sixth with a double of his own, eventually scoring an insurance run for the Jackets off a bases-loaded walk. Georgia answered in the seventh with two singles and a walk to load the bases with nobody out.

However, they could only manage to score one run as reliever Alex Cruz pitched his way out of the jam. A strikeout and sacrifice fly left runners on the corners with two out, and a successful pickoff attempt at first retired the side. After a scoreless eighth inning, the Jackets scored one final run in the ninth when Matt Gonzalez doubled to bring home Palka and seal the deal.

Tech outplayed the Bulldogs both in the field and on the basepaths. The Jackets turned three double plays on the evening to Georgia’s two, and committed no errors while Georgia made three. Tech also had two successful stolen base attempts and were not caught once, whereas the Bulldogs only made one attempt – the crucial out that ended the seventh inning.

The Jackets will play in the conference again this weekend when they host No. 5 Virginia (30-3, 12-3 ACC) in a three game set at Russ Chandler Stadium. The Cavaliers are coming off a three game sweep at Wake Forest riding its explosive offense that is ranked fourth in the nation in total runs scored.