Feb. 23, 2010

Courtesy of RamblinWreck.com

STATESBORO, Ga. - Sophomore Mark Pope combined with freshman Luke Bard for a four-hit shutout and the offense scored double-digit runs for the third straight game, as the No. 3 Georgia Tech baseball team defeated Georgia Southern, 10-0, Tuesday evening in Statesboro, Ga.

Tuesday's shutout was Georgia Tech `s third in the first four games of the season, the most in school history after four games played. The three runs allowed through four games are tied for the fewest allowed to this point in school history.

Pope, the team's closer as a freshman in 2009, made his first career start on the mound, and made quick work of the Eagle batters. Pope retired 10 of the first eleven batters he faced, and struck out seven batters in his six inning outing. The Marietta, Ga. native allowed just four hits on the day.

Tech took a 2-0 lead in the top of the second inning by taking advantage of two costly Georgia Southern errors. With two outs, sophomore Jacob Esch hit a routine fly ball in foul territory near the first base coaches' box that fell past the glove of Eagle first baseman Roman Grimaldi. On the next pitch, Esch hit a deep ball to left field that dropped by the glove of the Georgia Southern outfielder, scoring sophomore Matt Skole from second and junior Thomas Nichols from first.

The Jackets would then use a three-run inning to extend the lead to 5-0 in the top of the fifth. After junior Chase Burnette put Tech in the hit column with a single to center, and senior Jay Dantzler drew a walk, junior Thomas Nichols looped a single to left center scoring Tech's right fielder.

Junior catcher Cole Leonida added to the scoring two batters later when he drove a 2-out two-RBI double to the wall in centerfield plating Dantzler from third and Nichols from first.

Skole tacked on another run for Tech in the top of the fifth with a double of his own off the wall in centerfield, making it 6-0. Two more runs crossed the plate in the same inning, one on a single to center from Dantzler, and another after junior Derek Dietrich was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded.

Bard entered the game in the bottom of the seventh, and pitched three solid innings of relief. The freshman from Charlotte, N.C. didn't allow a single hit, and struck out three batters in the effort. He was credited with his first save of the year after pitching the minimal amount to qualify.

The Jackets added a run in the top of the eighth, as Burnette grabbed his third hit of the game with a single up the middle scoring junior Jeff Rowland from third.

Burnette was 3-for-5 in the game, and is now 11-for-16 (.688) on the season on the season.

Rowland drove in the final run of the game in the top of the 9th with a sacrifice fly to centerfield that brought home Nichols from third.

Tech's margin of victory stands at 11.0 through four games played, the third highest total all-time on the Flats behind the 1975 team (18.8) and the 1921 team (11.0).

The two-game series concludes Wednesday as freshman Buck Farmer will take the mound at 4 p.m. for the Jackets.