The baseball team was unable to complete a season sweep of rival Georgia, as the Bulldogs salvaged a split by winning the annual Spring Baseball Classic 7-5.
The Spring Baseball Classic, an annual contest between the in-state rivals at Turner Field, is a fund-raiser for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta that routinely draws thousands of fans from both schools. The 24,665 fans in attendance marked the sixth-largest crowd at an NCAA regular-season game. â€œIt’s a natural rivalry with Georgia and Georgia Tech, and you’re raising money for a great cause, so it’s a perfect night for college baseball in the city of Atlanta,â€ Tech Head Coach Danny Hall said of the event.
As the game started, both starting pitchers struggled with their command early on. Tech junior right-hander Zach Von Terschâ€”making his first midweek start of the seasonâ€”hit the second batter of the game, and Georgia starter Cecil Tanner plunked Tech senior right fielder Luke Murton in the bottom of the first. Tanner’s control issues continued in the second inning as he hit Tech senior left fielder Chris House with a pitch. Left-hander Justin Earls came in to pitch and quieted the threat, but not before allowing Tech to take a 2-1 lead.
Meanwhile, Von Tersch could not keep Georgia’s bats in check, and the Bulldogs took a 5-2 lead through four innings on a two-run homer by designated hitter Bryce Massanari and a two-run single by center fielder Matt Cerione. The score remained that way until the bottom of the seventh, when Tech’s offense finally came to life against Georgia reliever Will Harvil. With one out, sophomore shortstop Derek Dietrich and Murton drew back-to-back walks, and junior first baseman Tony Plagman singled to bring in Dietrich. After Murton was thrown out trying to score on a single by senior catcher Jason Haniger, sophomore designated hitter Chase Burnette hit a bloop single to left that dropped between three Georgia fielders, and Plagman and Haniger scored to tie the game.
After pitching a scoreless eighth, Brewster remained in for the ninth and struck out the first batter, but Georgia first baseman Rich Poythress followed with a deep drive that went off the center field wall for a double. Hall ordered Brewster to intentionally walk Massanari to bring up lefty Lyle Allen. The move did not pay off, though. Allen roped a single right past Brewster, allowing Poythress to score from second.
Rowland threw to third instead of home, hoping to catch pinch-runner Peter Verdin; however, the ball hit the sliding Verdin and rolled into the Tech dugout, allowing him to score. Brewster calmed down and struck out the next two Bulldog hitters to end the inning.
â€œHe hit the ball right back up the middle, and I thought I had it. I heard it buzz right by my head, but I just couldn’t put a glove on it,â€ Brewster said.
Georgia reliever Dean Weaver got two outs in the ninth before allowing a walk to Haniger. However, he got Burnette to ground out to seal Georgia’s 7-5 win.
â€œI thought it was a good ballgame. I was pleased that we came from behindâ€¦ Give them creditâ€”it seemed like they were able to get hits when they had guys in scoring position, and we struggled a little with that,â€ Hall said.
The win was Georgia’s fifth straight in the annual Spring Baseball Classic, and the Bulldogs have won six of the seven contests since the event started in 2003, with Tech’s only victory coming in 2004.