Tech takes Duke series, tops KSU

The Tech baseball team faced off against the Duke Blue Devils this past weekend at Russ Chandler Stadium in a series that finished with two Tech victories.  The Friday night game was cancelled which resulted in a doubleheader sweep by the Jackets on the afternoon of Saturday, March 31, followed up by a 4-3 loss to Duke on Sunday afternoon.  Tech recorded two successive shutouts against a conference opponent, a first in their ACC history.  The Jackets then closed out the week with a midweek game on Tuesday, April 3. The Jackets added another win by defeating Kennesaw State 7-3 at Kennesaw’s Stillwell Stadium.

Junior pitcher Buck Farmer pitched a complete game, the third of his career, in the first match up Saturday.  After the game, Farmer was recognized as the ACC Pitcher of the Week for his zero walk, 11-strikeout performance.  Junior outfielder Brandon Thomas’ RBI double in the eighth inning was the only run of the game.  Sophomore center fielder Kyle Wren and freshman second baseman Thomas Smith each added two hits for the 1-0 Tech victory.

Junior pitcher Luke Bard started off the second game for the Jackets and held the Blue Devils to two hits and five strikeouts through the first five innings.  Then, Sophomore pitcher Alex Cruz took over the game with bases loaded and one out for Duke.

Cruz was able to keep the Blue Devils at bay, and the Jackets tallied another shutout for the day.  Junior third baseman Sam Dove, senior first baseman Jake Davies and sophomore catcher Zane Evans added two runs each along with runs by freshman catcher Connor Lynch and sophomore pitcher runner DeAndre Smelter for an 8-0 Tech win.

The Jackets were unable to complete the series sweep on Sunday, with the Jackets trying to battle back even late in the ninth inning. The two teams switched leads twice and tied three times. Down by one in the ninth, the fans at Russ Chandler Stadium put on their rallying caps for the Jackets. Thomas got a double early in the ninth, and moved to third when Dove hit a groundout.

Davies then hit a fly ball to the left outfield and Thomas was tagged while trying to score from third, ending the game with a 4-3 score.

Then on Tuesday, April 3, the Jackets defeated the Kennesaw State Owls 7-3.  Scoreless for the first two innings, Tech broke the ice with a single by Wren that led Lynch to score the first run of the game.  Sophomore short stop Mott Hyde and Wren each added two runs, along with runs by Thomas and Dove.

Freshman pitcher Cole Pitts only allowed two hits and had five strikeouts in the first four innings before junior Clay Dalton, Cruz, and Evans each pitched a scoreless inning.  Kennesaw’s three runs all came in the sixth inning off of hits by catcher Ronnie Freeman and second baseman Andy Almonte.

The Jackets continue their conference schedule, facing the No. 2 Florida State Seminoles at Russ Chandler Stadium this weekend. Coach Danny Hall’s 1000th victory, a 12-3 win he recorded on March 16th against Virginia Tech, will be celebrated at Saturday’s game at 6 p.m.  The first pitch Sunday to conclude the weekend series will be thrown at 1 p.m.