Tech stumbles early in ACC tourney

The Tech baseball team traveled to Durham, N.C. on May 25 for the ACC Tournament. Tech’s 39-17 record earned them the No. 3 seed entering the tournament, but the Jackets failed to make it past pool play, losing two out of their three games.

Tech was matched up against Clemson to open the tournament. The Tigers were one of two ACC teams Tech lost a series to this season.

Similar to the matchup earlier in the season, Clemson defeated Tech thanks to Dominic Leone, the Tigers’ starting pitcher.

Leone pitched eight innings and only gave up two runs in Clemson’s first win of the season against the Jackets on April 29, and he was good again last Wednesday, pitching five shutout innings en route to a 9-0 Clemson win.

The Jackets were able to load the bases in the first inning and freshman second baseman Mott Hyde added a double in the second inning, but Leone was able to slip out of the jams by inducing multiple strikeouts.

The game remained a scoreless pitcher’s duel until the fourth inning. Following a pair of singles, Clemson right fielder Chris Epps launched a 2-1 pitch over right field for a three-run homer.

Tech looked poised to cut into Clemson’s lead in the fifth inning when freshman center fielder Kyle Wren led off the inning with a triple, but two more strikeouts by Leone left the Jackets scoreless again.

When junior starting pitcher Mark Pope left the game in the seventh inning, Tech was only down four runs, but the Jackets’ bullpen more than doubled the deficit by giving up five runs in the ninth inning.

Thursday proved to be a long day for the Jackets, but it also turned out to be a good one. After 15 innings, Tech finished off N.C. State 6-5 after Hyde stole home plate to score the go-ahead run.

Tech trailed the Wolfpack 5-4 in the eighth inning when freshman catcher Zane Evans hit a single between two defenders that plated sophomore left fielder Sam Dove.

The score would remain tied at five until the top of the 15th, when Hyde hit a one-out double to start the rally. Dove grounded out, but Hyde showed good awareness to advance to third on the play.

Two pitches later, Hyde broke for home plate and ended up sliding into the bag just before the catcher’s tag.

Freshman pitcher Matthew Grimes (7-3), who came into the game in the 14th inning, pitched two no-hit innings and got the win.

Tech’s game against Florida State the following day was postponed due to inclement weather, so it was moved to Saturday morning. Sophomore right fielder Brandon Thomas and Evans combined for four hits and two RBI, but it was not enough as the Seminoles won 4-2 and eliminated the Jackets from the tournament.

Sophomore pitcher Buck Farmer started the game for the Jackets and had eight strikeouts in six innings pitched while allowing three earned runs. However, one three-run inning was enough to hand Farmer his third loss of the season.

Tech’s offense did not record a hit until the fifth inning, and Tech was not able to score until the seventh when Evans singled home two runs.

Ultimately, the Seminoles edged the Jackets and ended Tech’s hopes of earning a national seed in the NCAA Tournament. Still, Tech is hosting an NCAA Regional and will face Austin Peay on Friday in its first game of the NCAA Tournament.

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