Coming off their toughest stretch at home of the year, the Tech baseball team took a four-game road trip with a series against Wake Forest and a midweek contest at Mercer. The Jackets played their conference weekend series against Wake from April 15-17 before returning to Ga. to play against Mercer on Tuesday, April 19. The Jackets split the Wake Forest series, winning two of the three games, and fell for the second time this season to Mercer, 6-3.
Entering the series against Wake Forest, the Jackets had been struggling from the mound the past week and were looking for a solid performance to start the week. Tech’s trip to Winston-Salem, N.C. began well with a one hit performance from junior pitcher Mark Pope. After winning the first game 5-1, the Jackets then dropped the second game 6-4, before rebounding to win the third game 6-5 in 12 innings.
On April 15, Pope pitched his fourth complete game of the season, concluding in his best overall performance of the season. Pope had eight strikeouts on the day. His one-hit performance was the first by a Tech pitcher since 1997.
At the plate, freshman Kyle Wren led all hitters, going 3-for-5 with two runs.
After a quiet start to the game, the Jackets struck first in the third inning with an RBI single by junior Jake Davies to take a 1-0 lead. Wake responded quickly with a solo home run, the only hit that Pope allowed in the game.
Tech regained control quickly, with Wren hitting a bunt straight down the third base line in the fifth to get himself to first base. A double by junior Jacob Esch towards left field allowed Wren to round the rest of the bases to give the Jackets their second run of the day. Junior Matt Skole finished the fifth inning with an RBI sac fly to give the Jackets a 3-1 lead.
The Jackets went off in the eighth inning as well after a pitching change by the Demon Deacons. Wake’s Brian Holmes was replaced by Niko Spezial after allowing six hits over seven innings. The pitching change would not phase the Jackets, with Skole immediately hitting a single and Davies following with a double. Freshman catcher Zane Evans sealed the game with a hit up the middle to bring both runners home and close the game at 5-1.
Wake’s Brian Holmes was credited with the loss for the day as Pope earned his eighth win of the season.
Tech would not be as successful on April 16, allowing a big Wake lead early and struggling to make the comeback late. The Jackets fell 6-4 after allowing four runs in the third and fourth inning, depite out-hitting the Demon Deacons 11 to six.
Junior Jed Bradley earned his second straight loss after allowing five runs, three earned, over five innings. Bradley recorded eight strikeouts on the day but also walked four hitters and hit two more.
The game started off quickly with both teams earning a run in the first inning. Tech took a 2-1 advantage in the third after a solo home run by Esch to break the tie.
The lead would quickly switch with Bradley allowing a walk and committing a throwing error on two consecutive hitters. The result was that Wake scored two costly unearned runs.
Wake then kept things going with two RBI hits in the fourth inning by Mark Rhine and Mac Williamson to give Wake a three run lead at 5-2.
The Jackets would not lose quietly though, cutting the lead to 5-4 through the fifth and sixth innings. Skole hit a RBI single in the fifth, followed by a solo home run by Evans in the sixth. It was Evans’ first homer of the season.
Tech could not make the comeback after Wake sealed the game with a home run in the bottom of the sixth off of freshman right-handed reliever Dusty Isaacs.
Wake earned its first win over the Jackets in its last eight tries and dropped the Jackets to 26-10, 13-4 in the ACC.
The Jackets would respond to the loss with a narrow 6-5 extra-inning victory on Sunday, April 17 as they fended off the Demon Deacons in 12 innings.
Freshman Mott Hyde led all hitters going 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBI. Hyde’s performance helped sophomore right-hander Luke Bard earn the win from the mound. Bard was credited with the win allowing only two runs on three hits over five innings in relief of the Tech starter, fellow sophomore right-hander Buck Farmer.
Hyde started the day with a three-run home run off of Wake’s Austin Stadler to give the Jackets a three-run advantage early in the second inning. Wake would respond quickly, earning a run in the second inning followed by a solo home run and an RBI sac fly in the third to bring the game back to 3-3.
Junior Evan Martin then hit a first-pitch home run in the seventh to give the Jackets the advantage once again. Hyde then tacked on another run in the eighth to bring the Jackets’ lead to 5-3.
Wake would respond again though, getting a two-run home run with two outs in the eighth inning to tie the game at 5-5.
After the homer tied things up, the game went all the way to a 12th inning as the teams battled in a pitching showdown.
Ultimately, a Davies sac fly in the 12th brought in Wren from third base and gave Tech a 6-5 lead, and Tech went on to win by the same score to take the series.
Tech had struggled against its nonconference opponents this season and was looking for redemption against Mercer after losing to the Bears at home earlier this season. However, the Jackets were unsuccessful and lost 6-3.
Freshman starter Matthew Grimes allowed a career high six runs, four earned, on six hits. Grimes was credited with his second loss of the season, bringing his record to 5-2.
Mercer started the game quickly, scoring three runs in the first inning to take a 3-0 advantage, and the Bears never let up as they went on to sweep the two-game series.
The Jackets tried to come back with a RBI single by sophomore Sam Dove and a sac fly by Evans to bring the score to 3-2 in the fourth inning.
The Bears, however, had a big fifth inning, scoring three runs to bring the game to 6-2 and seal the game early. A RBI double by Mercer’s Jacob Tanis brought the score to 4-2, before a throwing error by Evans to allow another run. Another RBI double by Mercer’s Austin Barrett closed the inning and brought the score to 6-2.
Mercer starter Matthew McCall earned his third win of the season after allowing two runs on six hits over three innings.
The Jackets will return to conference play next weekend, hosting Boston College from April 22-24, before a midweek contest against rival Georgia at Turner Field on April 26.