Jackets top Owls, 9-1

Photo by John Nakano

On Tuesday, April 3, the Kennesaw State Owls traveled 25 miles south to Atlanta for a game in which the Yellow Jackets defeated Kennesaw State 9-1. Jackets’ starter Sophomore Cole Pitts, who is sporting a 3.19 ERA on the season, made his eighth start of the season and went three innings, allowing one run to go along with three strikeouts.

Kennesaw State starter Will Solomon took the loss and now has a record of 2-3. Tech improved to 22-7 overall with an 8-4 conference record, while Kennesaw State fell to 17-12.

“I told the team after the game, it was a good bounce back game. I liked everything that I saw out here today in terms of pitching, hitting, energy. I thought we had some good at bats. I was just very pleased with the way they reacted,” Coach Danny Hall said.
Pitts got Kennesaw State leadoff hitter, Jacob Bruce, to strike out looking to begin the game. He then got Kal Simmons to ground out before getting his second strike out, this time swinging, to finish off the Owls in the first inning.

Kennesaw State was the first to get a run across the board. With one out in the second inning, after a Chris McGowan line drive double to right field that just barely landed in fair territory, designated hitter Max Pentecost drove him in with a single straight up the middle to put KSU up 1-0.

It wouldn’t take long for Tech to respond. Sophomore A.J Murray and Matt Gonzalez got the Tech half of the second inning started with singles. Junior Mott Hyde followed with a walk to load the bases with no outs. Sophomore Thomas Smith would ground into a double play, but Murray was able to score on the play to make it 1-1.

Kennesaw State threatened in the top of the fourth after Tech junior Jonathan Roberts, who relieved Pitts, gave up two walks and Alex Liquori reached on catcher’s interference, but the Owls were not able to put any runs on the board.

Freshman Matt Gonzalez would lead off Tech’s half of the fourth with a single and would advance to second on sacrifice bunt by Mott Hyde. Smith would drive Gonzalez in with a line drive double to right field to put the Jackets up 2-1. Following a Dylan Dore strike out, junior Kyle Wren singled up the middle to score Smith and put Tech up 3-1. The Owls would get out off the inning after Solomon got Sam Clay to strike out swinging.

Tech would add on to their lead in the bottom of the fifth after A.J. Murray tripled to left field to drive in Zane Evans and put the Jackets up 4-1. After a Hyde walk, Smith singled to right field to score Murray. Spingola walked to load the bases, and then Kyle Wren followed up with an infield single that drove in Hyde and put the Jackets up 6-1. The Jackets continued to pour it on after Sam Dove singled up the middle.

In the botttom of the sixth, Tech threateneed, but was unable to pt any runs on the board. After Evans flew out, A.J. Murray followed with a single. Matt Gonzalez was up next and he gorunded into a fielders choice that would get Murray thrwon out at second, but he recahed firt safely. Gonzalez would still second base successfully, but would be the third out of the inning when he tried to snag his second base of the ining and got thrown out trying to steal third. It was just the third time this season a speedy Gonzalez had been throuwn out trying to steal a base.

Tech added another run in the bottom of the seventh on a Spingola single that drove in Hyde to make the score 9-1. The run would end up being the final run of the game, as both teams would go scoreless in the eighth and ninth.

The entire pitching staff had an excellent game. Sam Clay threw two innings allowing no runs andJosh Heddinger pitched 1.1 innings without giving up a run.

Devin Stanton pitched .2 innings and had one strikeout, and Zane Evans finished off the Owls in the ninth with two strike outs. The mosti impressive part of the pitching effort was being able to stay focused even when Kennesaw State got runners on base. Kennesaww State left nine runners on base thorughout the game and had a runner left on base every inning except the first and the eighth innings.

“It was the best game, as a staff, that our team has had this sseason. We didn’t walk anybody, that was one thing I looked at. They got out of trouble when they had it and I was really pleased with that,” Coach Hall said.

Kennesaw State’s bullpen also had a nice night relieving KSU starter Will Solomon. Four owl picthers combined for four innings and only gave up one run and seven hits. OF those four, Andrew Austin may have been the most impressive. He pitched a perfect eighth inning to retire all three Tech batters he faced while only thrwoing eleven pitches.

Wren continued to stay hot finishing the game 2-4 with two RBIs and a walk. Wren is batting.411 on the season and has 36 RBIs. Murray also had a big game finishing 3-5 with an RBI. Jonathan Roberts picked up the win after pitching a scoreless inning of relief in the fourth.

Kennesaw State second baseman Dylan Ivey finished the game 2-4 with two strikeouts and designated hitter Max Pentecost went 1-2 with two walks and had Kennesaw State’s only RBI of the night.

Tech will head to Durham, NC this weekend to take on the Duke Blue Devils in a three game series. Duke is currently 17-13 (6-6 ACC), but has won five in a row after sweeping conference foe Boston College last weekend. Senior Buck Farmer will get the start on the hill Friday night, followed by junior Dusty Isaacs on Saturday.

Tech will play their first game against UGA next Tuesday in Athens, before finally returnig home for a three game series against The University of Virginia next weekend.