March 28, 2009

CORAL GABLES, Fla. - Jason Garofalo's grand slam highlighted a seven-run sixth inning, and No. 3 Georgia Tech (17-3, 7-1 ACC) hit five home runs to down No. 2 Miami (19-6, 7-3 ACC), 13-9, in the series opener Friday night at Alex Rodriguez Park.

The win snapped a streak of six-straight losses to the Hurricanes and was just the eighth for the Yellow Jackets in Coral Gables.

Luke Murton hit his first and second home runs of the season, while Derek Dietrich and Jeff Rowland also homered against the Hurricanes. Twelve of the Yellow Jackets' 13 runs came off home runs.

"The ball was carrying really well, but we had some great at-bats to get the ball airborne for home runs tonight," head coach Danny Hall said.

The Jackets began the sixth inning with three straight singles to load the bases for Murton, who was hit by the first pitch he saw to pull Tech to within one run at 5-4. Garofalo then pulled a 1-2 pitch over the left-center field fence for his second homer of the season, giving the Jackets their first lead of the game at 8-5. Rowland followed a single by Chris House with his third home run of the year to extend Tech's lead to 10-5 before the Hurricanes could get out of the inning.

"To be honest, we debated as to whether we wanted to send a left-handed hitter up there (to bat for Garofalo), but I thought he would put the ball in play and wouldn't strike out," Hall said. "When it's all said and done, I'm happy for him, and it was a big lift for our team."

Deck McGuire (5-0) struck out seven in six innings of work to earn his fifth win in 2009. He allowed five runs, only four of which were earned, on five hits while walking four.

"I thought Deck was a bit tentative at first, but then he really settled in and got key outs for us after we began getting back into the game," Hall said.

With the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, Jason Hagerty smacked a 1-2 pitch over the centerfield wall, which looked to pull Miami to within three runs with no outs in the frame. The Hurricane first baseman was instead called out while rounding the bases after he passed Ted Blackmon, who was tagging up at first base in the case of a catch by Rowland at the wall.

Patrick Long came on to strike out Harold Martinez to end the threat in the seventh inning and worked a 1-2-3 eighth before giving way to Zach Brewster in the ninth.

"Patrick was very good, and I've been very impressed with him every time he's pitched," Hall added. "We thought about running him back out there in the ninth inning, but he'd done his job - and a tremendous one at that."

Brewster struck out two in the ninth before giving way to Mark Pope, who picked up his sixth save of the year by striking out Martinez to end the game.

With one out in the bottom of the first inning, Scott Lawson scored from second on a groundout to the pitcher to give the Hurricanes an early 1-0 lead. Lawson reached on a leadoff walk and moved to second when Blackman followed with another free pass from McGuire.

Lawson pushed the `Canes lead to 3-0 in the second inning with a two-run single, but the Yellow Jackets tied the game in the top of the third with one swing of the bat by Dietrich.

A single by Rowland put runners at first and second after House walked with one out in the frame. Dietrich then worked the count full against Miami ace Chris Hernandez before sending his third home run of the season over the left field wall to even the score at 3-3.

Miami regained the lead in the fourth inning after the Jackets mishandled a pair of singles by the Hurricanes. Harold Melendres singled home the first run in the frame, and the center fielder took third base when his hit got past Murton. Lawson then followed with a ground ball up the middle, which was booted by Garofalo.

A two-run home run by Murton, his first of the season, pushed Tech's lead to 12-5 in the top of the seventh, but the Hurricanes answered with the big hit by Hagerty in the bottom of the frame to pull within four runs of the Yellow Jackets.

Hernandez suffered the loss, yielding seven runs on seven hits in 5-1/3 innings.

Georgia Tech and Miami will continue the three-game series Saturday at 7 p.m., with Zach Von Tersch (4-1, 6.26 ERA) taking the mound for the Yellow Jackets. The Hurricanes will counter with right-hander David Gutierrez (2-1, 0.88 ERA), and the game will be televised by CSS and aired on WREK Radio (91.1 FM in Atlanta/www.wrek.org). Live stats for all Tech baseball games are available at Ramblinwreck.com.