GT Blasts Virginia
May 25, 2012
Jake Davies and Georgia Tech roughed up Virginia on Friday. Photo Credit: Sara D. Davis/theACC.com.
GREENSBORO, N.C. - Virginia coach Brian O'Connor's assessment of his team's play Friday against Georgia Tech at the ACC Tournament was simple and accurate. The Yellow Jackets won 17-5 in a game that ended via the ACC's mercy rule.
"That was just a good, old-fashioned butt-kicking is what it was."
The Yellow Jackets (34-24) pounded out eight extra base hits, including three home runs. The loudest shot was Jake Davies 3-run walk-off blast to put the Hoos down 12 in the bottom of the seventh and end the game. The 17 runs allowed is the most by Virginia since the club surrendered 17 to George Washington on March 26, 2008, and it is the most to an ACC team since Clemson scored 17 on May 12, 2001. The three home runs are the most Virginia has allowed this season and the most since Oklahoma cranked out four in game three of the Charlottesville Super Regional in 2010.
"Georgia Tech obviously deserves all of the credit; they showed up today and really swung the bats well," O'Connor said. "The great thing about this game is that we have another change tomorrow and the important this is that we come out and play winning baseball."
Starting pitcher Scott Silverstein took the loss, lasting just 2.1 innings to fall to 2-5 on the year. Cole Pitts improved to 6-4 for the Jackets with five innings of work. Pitts gave up two earned runs while scattering eight hits. Virginia dropped to 37-17-1.
Friday's best news for the Cavaliers is that their ACC title hopes are still alive thanks to Clemson, which rallied to defeat Florida State on Friday. If Clemson defeats Georgia Tech and the UVa finds a way to end its three-game losing skid to Florida State on Saturday, the Cavaliers will return to the ACC title game for the third time in four seasons. If not, they'll go home to prepare for NCAA Tournament play.
UVa's Scott Silverstein pitched just 2.1 innings. Photo Credit: Sara D. Davis/theACC.com.
Pitching fails Hoos
A bullpen that entered the ACC Tournament pitching lights out imploded Friday afternoon here in Greensboro. The Wahoo bullpen was sporting a 1.73 ERA in 114.1 innings of work over a span of 24 games when the club began play Thursday. During that 24-game period, Cavalier firemen had a stretch of 39 consecutive scoreless innings. Ironically that streak was snapped by the Yellow Jackets on May 13 in Virginia's 5-4 loss in Charlottesville - that was one of only two losses in the regular season's final 15 games.
A poor start by Silverstein on Friday sent O'Connor to the relievers early and a normally dependable crew simply could not get the job done against the Yellow Jackets.
Nick Howard was rocked for six earned run over 2/3 of an inning. The freshman surrendered four hits, walked three batters and allowed three extra-base hits; that included a 2-run blast to Mott Hyde. Howard pitched four innings in the regular season series against Tech; he gave up just one hit, struck out one and did not allow run.
Despite the performance, Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall had nothing but praise for Howard.
"Number one he's got a real good arm and he's going to be a great pitcher in this league; he's got a great breaking ball," said the Jacket coach. "He hung the breaking ball to Mott [Hyde] so I kind of tip my cap to Mott on that one because [Howard] hung the breaking ball and he hit the home run but I think Howard's got some great stuff and we were fortunate today to put some good swings on him."
Fellow reliever Austin Young fared no better against the hot Jacket bats. The right-hander went 3.1 innings and allowed seven runs (all earned) on six hits and two walks.
"I needed to come in and hold serve. I needed to hold them down and let our offense come through for us and I did that for the first two innings but unfortunately I didn't clutch up for my team," said Young.
The six runs Howard gave up were the most ever for the rookie pitcher and the seven Tech posted on Young is the most he has surrendered this season.
"If you don't make your pitches [Georgia Tech] will make you pay," O'Connor said. "If you go back and look at quite a few of their hits, we didn't make the pitch we needed to make. On a lot of those hits, the home run balls, those pitches were up in the zone. When you make mistakes a really good player makes you pay for it and Georgia Tech certainly did that."
Howard's ERA doubled from 1.69 to 3.08 as the Cavalier right-hander gave up six of his season's 14 earned runs Friday. Young saw his ERA climb from 3.54 at the start of the day to 5.17.
Despite the poor outing, O'Connor says he has not problem going right back to his bullpen again Saturday.
"We've done so many positive things - that's why I felt to go and make the move to Howard when we did, facing their talented hitter. [Catcher Zane] Evans came up runners on second and third and we still had a 3-2 lead. Nick pitched like he hasn't pitched all year; he's been very consistent for us all year and he wasn't today," said O'Connor. "But our bullpen has done so many great things and there's no reason now to second guess their ability to do the job. We'll go right back to our bullpen tomorrow when we have a chance to win the ball game."
Virginia entered the tournament leading the conference in hitting but since start of the Miami series - a span of 14 games - Virginia has declined in several key offensive numbers.
- Batting average (.304 to .297)
- Slugging percentage (.437 to .425)
- On base percentage (.409 to .401)
All of Virginia's 14 hits in the tournament (5 vs. Clemson, 9 vs. GT) have been singles. The five singles Thursday against Clemson broke a string of 39 consecutive games with an extra base hit.
The most frustrated Cavalier hitter is probably Jared King. On April 13, King had recorded 42 hits and 35 RBIs; he led all position players with a .368 batting average. Since that time, King has produced just 10 hits and nine RBI; his average has dropped to .275. King is just 10 for 75, a .133 batting average during that time. The good news for the Hoos is they've won 14 of 21 games during King's slump. Bottom line, Virginia needs more production from the five hole in the order.
The Hoos also need lead-off man Chris Taylor to get hot. The Virginia shortstop is just 11-43 (.257) since the start of the Miami series and his batting average when leading off has fell from .403 on April 13 to .323 on Friday.
For UVa to make a serious postseason run, it will need the entire team to pick up the hitting, including the man at the top of the order and the big RBI-producing King.
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