The Tech baseball team hit the road for their previous five games and came away with four wins. The four victories and one loss improved Tech’s record to 22-3 and earned them a No. 2 national ranking.
On March 26-28, Tech traveled to Chapel Hill North Carolina to face ACC-rival UNC. North Carolina came into the series ranked No. 17 in the nation at 16-6.
In the series opener on Friday March 26, Tech barely managed to defeat the Tar Heels 2-1 in a pitchers duel. Junior pitcher Deck McGuire took the mound for his sixth start for the Jackets. McGuire tied his season high for strikeouts with ten, and only allowed one run on six hits in seven innings of work.
UNC’s Matt Harvey also pitched well allowing three hits and striking out 11 Tech batters. Harvey’s one fault in the performance was his inability to find the strike zone at times, allowing six walks.
The game was tied until the top of the seventh inning at one apiece. In the seventh, junior designated hitter Thomas Nichols led off with a double and then Harvey’s lack of control got him into trouble. With the bases loaded, Harvey walked junior catcher Cole Leonida scoring the go-ahead run from third base.
Senior right-handed pitcher Andrew Robinson came into to close the game in the ninth and just squeaked out a save. UNC loaded the bases, but a hard line drive was caught by sophomore second baseman Jacob Esch who then fired the ball to second for the game ending double play.
After only managing to muster three hits in Friday’s game, Tech broke out the bats on Saturdays game for a 13-5 route.
Tech did not waste any time in scoring runs on Saturday with three home runs in the first inning. Junior shortstop Derek Dietrich, senior first baseman Tony Plagman and Leonida hit back-to-back-to-back home runs giving Tech a quick 3-0 lead. The last time Tech hit three consecutive home runs current MLB superstar Mark Teixiera was playing third base for the Jackets in 2000.
Junior pitcher Brandon Cumpton started the game for the Jackets on the mound and did not have his best game. Cumpton threw 102 pitches in only 4.1 innings of work and gave up five earned runs.
Pitching with a four run lead in the fifth inning, Cumpton allowed the Tar Heels creep within one of the lead before sophomore southpaw Jake Davies came into the game to preserve the 6-5 lead.
Davies pitched 2.1 innings and picked up the win improving his record to 2-0 and Tech added seven more runs in the later innings.
With their second win in the three-game series, the Jackets clinched the series against North Carolina for the first time since 2006, and the first time in Chapel Hill since 2003.
Tech had won the series against UNC but the Jackets had their eyes on the sweep heading into Sunday’s game against the Heels. The Jackets continued their strong performance at the plate, but UNC’s offense finally woke up. UNC lead for most of the game, but Tech rallied to complete the sweep, winning 11-8.
UNC looked poised to win the game in the fourth inning when they scored three runs on four hits off of Tech’s sophomore pitcher Jed Bradley. The four runs would give the Heels a 6-0 lead and ended Bradley’s day early.
Tech trailed 8-3 going into the ninth inning. With two runners on base and two outs, freshman left fielder BrandonThomas tripled to center allowing both runners to score. Junior center fielder Jeff Rowland then singled to score Thomas to pull Tech within two runs. Dietrich then swung at the first pitch he saw, driving the ball over the wall for the game-tying homer.
Rowland and Dietrich added RBI singles in the tenth inning to give the Jackets a 11-8 lead and Robinson shut down the Heels improving his ERA to 0.49.
On Tuesday March 30, the Jackets traveled to Georgia State to take on the Panthers and their number one ranked offense.
Sophomore pitcher Mark Pope shut down the Panthers’ offense allowing three runs on seven hits in seven innings. Pope also baffled hitters by posting a career-high 13 strikeouts.
The Jackets scored two runs in the first inning thanks to an error by the Panther’s first baseman.
Two more errors by Georgia State in the second inning would allow Tech to jump out to a 9-0 lead.
Plagman hit a two-run homer in the ninth making the score 12-3, before sophomore third baseman Matt Skole blasted a two-run shot of his own to right center field. Plagman’s homer was his tenth of the season, and Skole's was his seventh.
On Wednesday March 31 Tech traveled to Kennesaw State where they squared off against the 11-16 Owls. Tech jumped out to a quick lead but eventually lost to the Owls 7-4.
In the first inning, Tech struck for two runs when the leadoff man, Rowland, walked and Dietrich hit a homer to deep center field.
Kennesaw State was not down for long as they tied the game in the second inning. Freshman pitcher Luke Bard walked the first two batters he faced and then struck out the next two. Bard could not get out of the inning unscathed as Kennesaw’s Bucky Smith doubled to score both base runners.
Tech re-took the lead in the seventh inning when Kennesaw’s pitcher Zak Griffith walked the first two batters he faced and then a fielding error scoring Esch from second.
Tech’s new lead was also short lived as Kennesaw scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh. Tech pitchers had three wild pitches and three walks leading to the big inning, and a 7-3 Owls lead.
Tech tried to mount a comeback in the ninth when Esch, Thomas, and Rowland walked to load the bases. Then Dietrich was hit by a pitch to score one run, but two Tech strikeouts ended the game 7-4.