Tech drops Wake series, tops GSU

The Tech baseball team traveled to Winston-Salem, N.C. for a three-game series against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons starting Friday, April 13. Despite the significant conference implications, the Jackets could not take the series, dropping the Friday and Sunday matchups. Tech then returned home for a midweek matchup against the Georgia State Panthers on Tuesday, April 17. The Jackets avenged a loss from earlier this season, taking the game 8-4.

The Jackets lost a tight series opener to the Demon Deacons to start off the weekend, losing 4-2. Tech did everything right and then some, but could not seem to push across a run until it was too late.

Junior pitcher Buck Farmer saw another quality start end in a loss. Farmer had six strong innings, striking out eight and giving up only one walk. However, a dropped third strike by freshman catcher Connor Lynch allowed Wake to have a leadoff base runner.

Farmer then struck out the next two batters, which would have ended the inning, but two hits and a throwing error later, Wake Forest scored four unearned runs to get a 4-0 lead.

Wake Forest starting pitcher Tim Cooney kept Tech off the board through eight innings, but the Jackets made a run in the ninth inning courtesy of senior first baseman Jake Davies, sophomore right-fielder Daniel Palka and freshman pinch hitter Daniel Spignola. However, the final push by Tech was not enough to overcome the deficit, as the Demon Deacons would go on to win the matchup 4-2.

Tech would respond to the loss in the second game of the series. Despite going down 4-0 in the second inning, the Jackets would fight back to take an 8-5 lead by the top of the fifth.

Senior outfielder Brandon Thomas and Davies drove in a combined five runs, and sophomore designated hitter Paul Kronenfeld snapped the Jackets’ nine-game streak without a home run with his third bomb of the year.

Sophomore pitcher Alex Cruz earned his third win of the season in relief of sophomore starter Dusty Isaacs who was pulled after just two innings of work. Isaacs allowed five hits and five earned runs on 52 pitches before being pulled early. Cruz threw five strong innings of one hit baseball in which he did not allow an earned run and struck out three batters.

The game was then turned over to sophomore catcher and pitcher Zane Evans who, despite giving up one run in the eighth, was able to punch in the victory, leading the Jackets to an 8-7 win.

In the rubber match of this three-game series, Tech jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead, which they would maintain until the bottom of the fourth inning. But Wake Forest would not stay behind for long, roughing up the Jackets and freshman starting pitcher Cole Pitts with five runs in the fourth and fifth innings alone.

Tech’s bullpen hardly stopped the bleeding, surrendering another six runs and seven hits in four innings of work. This substandard pitching performance was backed by four errors on the field, bringing Tech to a combined six errors for the series.

The Jackets would tack on one run in the ninth but it was too late, as Wake Forest claimed the game and the series, 11-3. The series win by Wake Forest was their first victory over the Jackets since the 2002 season.

Tech returned home to face cross-town opponent Georgia State on Tuesday, April 17. The Jackets seized an early lead- scoring four runs in the bottom of the first en route to an 8-4 win.

Isaacs started on the mound, earning his second start in four days for Tech. Isaacs was credited with the win despite only pitching for two innings. The game was then turned over to freshman Josh Heddinger, who gave up two earned runs on six strikeouts and only one walk in 5.1 innings.

The batters that had been quieted by Wake Forest a few days before came out in full force against the Panthers, particularly the top half of the order. Davies and Evans combined for six hits and four RBIs to lead the Jackets to a combined 15 runs on the day. Seven Jackets posted at least one hit on the day as the Jackets took the win for the day and tied the season series.

The Jackets will look to gain some momentum in conference play when they head to Chapel Hill, N.C., to face the North Carolina Tar Heels this weekend.