After splitting the previous four games, the Tech baseball team was looking to have a big weekend against Rutgers from March 5-7 at Russ Chandler Stadium. The No. 24 Jackets swept the series with strong performances in all phases of the game, despite having to play an unexpected double header on March 4 due to weather. Friday resulted in a 10-0 win and a 9-5 victory, followed by a 7-4 victory on Sunday, March 6.
Tech then followed the series up with a game against Kennesaw State, earning the 7-4 win on Tuesday, March 8.
In the first game between the Jackets and the Scarlett Knights, junior pitcher Mark Pope had a career day. Pope threw his second career full-game shutout, only allowing four hits over nine innings. His day was highlighted by a streak of striking out six batters without issuing a single walk en route to the win in the first game.
Pope had a calm demeanor after each hit he gave up and had the supports of his teammates who helped with three double plays through the game.
At the plate, every Jacket in the lineup had at least one hit in the game, helping Tech score 10 runs on a season-high 19 hits.
Leading the team was junior first baseman Jake Davies who hit a perfect four-for-four on the day and recorded three RBIs, both season highs. Davies had two doubles in the game.
The game started off slowly with both teams scoreless through the first two innings, until junior third baseman Matt Skole hit a home run in the third inning to break the tie. The Jackets then scored a run in both the fourth and fifth innings to cushion their lead.
The Jackets began to pull away in the sixth inning when freshman designated player Daniel Palka hit a home run to give Tech a 4-0 lead. Tech’s hitting, however, exploded in the eighth inning with six runs and five hits, highlighted by a double by sophomore right fielder Brandon Thomas.
Thomas recorded three hits and two RBIs in the game, extending his streak to seven consecutive games with a hit.
The solid hitting effort by the Jackets gave Rutgers starter Tyler Gebler his first loss of the season after he allowed 12 hits and three runs through 5.2 innings.
Due to inclement weather reports, the game originally scheduled for March 6 was moved earlier to create a double header on Friday night. The Jackets pulled away in the fifth inning to eventually clinch the series and game with a 9-5 victory.
Junior pitcher Jed Bradley got the start for the day, but he only pitched for two innings before leaving the game. Sophomore pitcher Luke Bard earned the win, coming in as relief midway through the fifth inning. Bard allowed three hits and four runs on the day on 106 pitches.
Tech continued hitting well through their second game of the day, with freshman Mott Hyde, freshman catcher Zane Evans and Thomas each recording two hits. The Jackets got an early 2-0 lead at the bottom of the first before Rutgers had a three-run second inning to take a short lived lead. Tech then scored a run in both the second and third inning, taking a 4-3 lead, before Rutgers tied the ball game up in the fifth.
Two singles by Thomas and Hyde gave the Jackets three runs in the fifth inning, effectively guaranteeing victory.
The Jackets ended their scoring with a two run sixth inning, and held their lead through the rest of the game.
Rutgers pitcher Rob Smorol was credited with the loss, allowing seven runs and 11 hits in only four innings.
The series wrapped up two days later, with Tech winning on a big hitting day, 14-3. Tech earned its first sweep of the season, outscoring the Scarlett Knights 33-8 over three games.
Sophomore pitcher Buck Farmer earned his first win of the season, throwing a career-high eight strikeouts. Farmer only allowed four hits through six innings.
Despite a slow start to the game, Tech began a strong run from the fourth inning, scoring 13 runs through four innings. Tech took an early 1-0 lead in the first, but Rutgers responded immediately with a run in the second.
The Jackets began to get things going in the second inning, scoring two runs before hitting three runs in both the fifth and sixth inning. Palka and Skole highlighted the sixth with back-to-back home runs to give Farmer sufficient run support for the day. Both players have combined for all seven of Tech’s home runs this season. Palka hit a homer in each game of the series.
The scoring ended after a five- hit, five-run seventh inning to seal the game. Palka, Evans, Davies and freshman left fielder DeAndre Smelter each had three hits and combined for seven RBIs on the day.
The team finished with 17 hits on the day.
Freshman Dusty Isaacs, senior Taylor Wood and senior Kevin Jacob each pitched one inning after the game was in control of the Jackets.
Rutger’s pitchers continued to struggle, with pitcher Nathaniel Roe picking up the loss. Roe allowed six runs on seven hits through four innings.
Coming off the momentum of the series sweep, the Jackets looked to win a midweek game against Kennesaw State to continue the win streak. Tech did so with the good hitting en route to a 7-4 victory at Russ Chandler Stadium.
Hyde led the way, going three-for-four with four RBIs early in the game. Hyde picked up a pair of runs with a double in the second inning before hitting a single in the third to put another two runs on the scoreboard.
Freshman pitcher Matthew Grimes earned the win thanks to the excellent hitting by the Tech offense. Grimes allowed four runs on six hits over five innings.
Despite rolling out to a 5-1 lead in the third inning, Kennesaw came back, scoring three runs in the fifth inning to cut the lead to 5-4.
Bard came into the game in the sixth to relieve Grimes and held the Owls scoreless through the rest of the day. Tech would score a run in the seven and eight inning to take a 7-4 lead and eventually win the game.
The Jackets will begin their conference schedule on March 11, hosting Maryland in a three-game series.