Diamond Scouting Report: GT
May 11, 2012
Coach Brian O'Connor's club hopes to win an ACC series vs. GT.
The Virginia baseball team defeated the High Point Panthers 12-3 on Wednesday night at Davenport Field. This weekend, the Cavaliers host Georgia Tech in their final home ACC series, beginning on Friday night at 6 p.m. and continuing on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m. on both days.
Here is a brief scouting report on the Yellow Jackets.
Georgia Tech Scouting Report
2012 Results to date: 29-19, 10-14 in ACC competition. Most recently, the Rambling Wreck swept Charlotte in three games at home last weekend and beat Georgia 8-6 on Wednesday night at home.
2011 Results: 42-21, 22-8 in ACC competition and won the 2011 ACC regular season championship. But in the ACC Tournament, GT lost the opening game to Clemson 9-0, came back to beat NC State 6-5 and then lost to Florida State 4-2. The Jackets hosted a regional NCAA Tournament series, but lost to Austin Peay 2-1 in the opening game, then beat Southern Mississippi 6-2 to stay alive, but lost to the regional winner, Mississippi State 7-3 to conclude the season.
2011 Series with Virginia: In Atlanta in April last year, Virginia won the series from Georgia Tech by winning the first two games 6-2 and 12-9. Tech took the finale 10-8.
Outlook: Coach Danny Hall is in his 19th season at the helm of the Georgia Tech baseball program. He is the winningest coach in GT history and reached the 800-win milestone at Tech this season and has more than 1,000 victories in his college coaching career. He had to replace two outstanding weekend starters in RHP Mark Pope and LHP Jed Bradley along with two valuable position starters in 3B Matt Skole and SS Jacob Esch. There is plenty of talent remaining, particularly on offense; pitching will be the difference maker for Georgia Tech.
One of the Jackets' initial weekend starters, RHP Matt Grimes has not pitched since the Virginia Tech series in the middle of March due to an injury. The results since then have reflected the pitching changes as the Rambling Wreck have lost four of their last six ACC series, including away series losses to Boston College and Wake Forest and a sweep at home to Florida State. Georgia Tech did win the UNC series in Chapel Hill three weeks ago, but then promptly lost a home series against Clemson one week later. GT was picked to finish second in the Coastal Division of the ACC, but is currently tied for fourth with Virginia Tech going into the last two ACC series. After the Virginia series this weekend, the Jackets will host Miami next weekend in their final ACC series and they will be fighting for a spot in the ACC Tournament.
Pitching: The Friday starting pitcher for Georgia Tech is a returning veteran. Junior RHP Buck Farmer (7-3, 3.20 ERA, 81 IP) has been the workhorse of the pitching staff and has the only complete game for the entire staff in his 12 starts this season. He averages almost 7 IP per start and the Hoos will need to get to the bullpen as early as possible on Friday night. The Saturday starting pitcher had been Grimes, but for the last seven weeks it has been sophomore RHP Dusty Issacs (5-3, 7.66 ERA, 51 IP), who moved up from his Sunday starting role earlier in the season. The Sunday starting pitcher - after the injury to Grimes and Issacs' move - has been freshman RHP Cole Pitts (4-4, 4.60 ERA, 58 IP).
The primary weekend relief pitchers have been sophomore RHP Alex Cruz (6-1, 1.42 ERA, 50 IP) and sophomore RHP Zane Evans (0-1, 5.00 ERA, 27 IP). Evans also catches most of the weekend games. The GT closer is junior RHP Luke Bard (1-0, 0.99 ERA, 27 IP). The Rambling Wreck pitching staff ERA is 4.39 and those players have given up 189 walks and struck out 368 with Farmer leading the way with 90 Ks. By comparison, the Virginia staff ERA is 3.28 and those pitchers have walked 145 and struck out 373.
Batting/Fielding: The Georgia Tech offense is solid with five position starters batting more than .300. Junior LF Brandon Thomas leads the hitting attack with a .366 batting average. He also leads the team in stolen bases with 12 steals out of 16 attempts. The rest of the starting outfield consists of lead-off hitter and sophomore CF Kyle Wren (.276) as well as the most dangerous hitter in the GT lineup in sophomore RF Daniel Palka (.313). Palka leads the team with 11 HRs and a slugging percentage of .614.
In the infield, junior Sam Dove (.351) starts at 3B and leads the team in hits (67). At SS is sophomore Mott Hyde (.273) and freshman Thomas Smith (.329) has been starting at 2B the last 23 games. Senior Jake Davies (.335) starts at 1B and leads the team in RBIs (53) from his clean-up batting position. The Rambling Wreck catcher is Evans (.287) and freshman Connor Lynch (.281) replaces him in the event he moves to a relief pitcher role. Sophomore Paul Kroenfeld (.293) is the starting DH.
The GT team batting average is .299, which is fourth behind Virginia's ACC-leading .302. But Georgia Tech has committed 75 errors for a fielding percentage of .960 which is next to last in the ACC with only Miami owning a worse fielding percentage. Virginia leads the ACC with a fielding percentage of .974 on a league-low 47 errors.
Prediction: These last two ACC series are crucial to a number of ACC teams, such as Virginia, GT, Miami, VT, Clemson and NC State. Each team needs a series win before heading to the final weekend series since GT and Miami play each other, VT finishes at UNC and NC State finishes at Florida State. Clemson hosts Florida State in the Saturday-Monday TV series this weekend and finishes at Wake Forest. Virginia can solidify its second place position in the Coastal Division with a series win against the Rambling Wreck since the Hoos finish at Maryland.
As always, the Friday game will establish the tone for the weekend and both Farmer and UVa's Branden Kline have been outstanding in their recent outings. The Cavaliers' chances improve over the weekend against the Saturday and Sunday starters for GT, but the main difference in this series will be which team's potent offense can break through against the other team's pitching. The offensive statistics for both teams are quite similar except Virginia's batters have walked more times, struck out less and been hit twice as many times as GT's hitters. This weekend series could go either way and all of the games should be very close with many changes in momentum. I think the Hoos get the job done and win the series to put themselves in line as a regional host for the NCAA Tournament.
|Printer-Friendly E-mail this Article|