GREENSBORO, N.C. — The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets ran the table at Greensboro’s NewBridge Bank Park, defeating the Miami Hurricanes 8-5 Sunday to capture the 2012 ACC Baseball Championship. Behind tournament MVP Jake Davies, Tech won all four games in Greensboro and became the first No. 8-seed to win the title.
The Yellow Jackets (36-24), who have won five consecutive games overall, jumped to a big early lead, survived a Hurricane comeback in the middle innings and salted it away the program’s eighth title down the stretch.
“I’m just so proud of my team,” said head coach Danny Hall, who improved to 4-1 in ACC title games. “I thought they played great baseball all week. This is, in my mind, one of the toughest tournaments in the country when you have eight great teams fighting for the championship. To get through that thing 4-0 coming in as the eight-seed just says a lot about my team and what they did this week. I can not be more proud of a group of guys.”
The victory has secured Tech a spot in the NCAA Tournament for the 26th time in the last 28 years — only Florida State and Miami have been to more in that span.
The Jackets, who were hitting .310 as a team in the tournament, wasted little time getting the bats going. Jumping on sixth-seeded Miami (36-21) starter Javi Salas in the first inning, the first six batters reached base on two doubles, three singles and a walk. The first four scored thanks to consecutive RBIs from Davies, Daniel Palka, Zane Evans and Mott Hyde.
Another Davies RBI — his 11th of the tournament — gave Tech a 5-1 lead in the second. The Jackets appeared to be running away with it when Hyde pummeled a ball deep down the left-field line for his second homer of the tournament, making the score 6-1 in the third.
But the Miami bullpen finally settled things, and the offense began to chip away at the lead. After getting an RBI single from Brad Fieger in the first, he drove in another during a two-run, two-hit third inning that chased Tech starter Josh Heddinger.
A Chance Mack RBI in the fifth pulled Miami closer, and the Hurricanes made it a 6-5 game when Michael Broad launched a lead-off home run off reliever Jarrett Didrick in the sixth.
But Didrick was outstanding in four innings of relief, allowing two hits and two runs, and picking up his second win of the year (2-0). Didrick rolled a key 4-6-3 double play to get out of trouble in the third, fired a 1-2-3 fourth, allowed a run in the fifth, and got three outs in succession after Broad’s homer in the sixth.
It was Evans’ show from there.
With Tech clinging to a one-run lead, and having squandered opportunities with the bases loaded in the second and fifth innings, and leaving 16 on base in the game, Evans drove a two-run single to center in the seventh that gave the Jackets breathing room at 8-5.
Evans took the hill for the final three innings, and nailed down his team-leading sixth save of the season by getting the final nine outs in order.
“I didn’t anticipate putting him in that early,” said Hall. “But when he went in the game, the game was over. He dominated the game on the mound and his two-run single gave us some breathing room. You could just feel the air go out of their dugout when he started throwing.”
Sam Dove was 3-for-4 and scored twice, while Davies, Palka, Evans and Hyde each chipped in two of the Jackets’ 15 hits. Tech finished the tournament hitting .329 as a team, slugged .580 with 13 doubles, a triple and seven home runs. Tech out-scored the opposition 35-15 in four games.
Davies drove in 11 runs, two shy of the all-time tournament record, and Evans knocked in 10.
“I thought we played great baseball all week,” said Hall. “We played our best baseball. We got timely hits when we needed them, we made plays when we needed to, we got pitches when we needed to, we got contributions from everybody. Things just clicked.”
Davies was named the tournament MVP, and he was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Evans (catcher), Thomas Smith (second base) and Brandon Thomas (outfield). It is the first time since 2006 that Tech has had an all-tournament team selection.
Salas was on the hook for the loss (6-3), giving up six hits and five runs in 1 1/3 innings, and five pitchers followed him out of the bullpen.