GREENSBORO — A season that began with a lot of promise, but then ran into some difficulties, took a big upswing for Georgia Tech as the Yellow Jackets completed a four-game sweep at the ACC Baseball Championship, topping Miami 8-5 Sunday afternoon in the final game. The game was played at NewBridge Bank Park in front of 3,825 fans.
Tech (36-24) started the year ranked in the Top 10 in the country. Quickly after that though, coach Danny Hall’s team lost four of its top pitchers. As other players started to fill the roles on the mound, the Yellow Jackets got into the league tournament and made history by being the first eighth-seed to win the championship. It is the eighth league championship since 1985 for Tech and the first since 2005.
“I’m just so proud of my team. I thought they played great baseball all week,” Hall said. “We played, in my mind, one of the toughest tournaments in the country, when you consider eight great teams from the ACC fighting for the championship, and to get through that thing 4-0 as the eighth seed says a lot about my team and what they did this week. Things just clicked; it was our best baseball of the year.”
“We were down in the dumps when we had four quality guys go down. It put us in a tailspin. It took me a little while to figure out what we needed to do pitching-wise,” Hall said. “I decided we needed to put Jake [Davies] in our starting rotation. And as of late we’ve been using Zane [Evans] when we catch Connor Lynch.”
Davies ended up ACC Tournament MVP. He pitched six innings and got a win against Clemson, hit four home runs and drove in 11 during the four games, also playing first base and designated hitter.
Evans also had a big day against the Hurricanes. He helped his team jump ahead 4-0 in the top of the first. After Miami battled back to cut the Jackets lead to 6-5, he delivered a two-run single in the top of the seventh and then went to the mound to throw three perfect innings to get his sixth save of the year.
“I didn’t plan on using Zane that early, but literally when he went into the game in the seventh, the game was over,” Hall said.
“He got a two-run single to give us some breathing room and dominated the game on the mound.”
Miami coach Jim Morris, who was born in Lexington and graduated from Smith High School in Greensboro, found out after the game his team will be one of five ACC teams hosting an NCAA Regional next week.
“First of all I want to congratulate Georgia Tech on winning,” Morris said. “It shows you, I think, the strength of our conference when you have the eighth seed playing us, I guess the sixth seed, for the championship. The outplayed us today and deserved to win it. I’m excited because we found out a few minutes ago we’re hosting a regional, and that’s one of our goals.”
Miami (36-21) was in a hole from the beginning. Hurricanes starter Javi Salas (6-3) entered the game with an earned run average of 2.20, but Tech leadoff hitter Kyle Wrenn and Sam Dove doubled, Brandon Thomas walked, and Davies, Daniel Palka and Evans singled before Salas registered an out.
“Salas has pitched well this year; that’s the first time he’s had that happen,” Morris said.