Georgia Tech trying to turn corner against Bulldogs

Georgia Tech pitcher Ben Schniederjans will start for the Yellow Jackets against rival Georgia Tuesday night at Russ Chandler Stadium. (Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics)

After losing six consecutive ACC series, Georgia Tech ended its slide by beating Virginia Tech this past weekend. The Yellow Jackets can continue their recovery Tuesday night in a most satisfying manner, by beating Georgia at Russ Chandler Stadium.

“I would say probably for the last couple weeks, we have played better for the most part, and in all phases,” coach Danny Hall said.

It has been a subpar season to this point for the Jackets, who enter Tuesday’s game at 20-19, Tech’s poorest record after 39 games in Hall’s tenure. After the weekend, the Jackets ranked 11th nationally in home runs per game, but their pitching has been inconsistent and injuries have been impactful. Tech is in clear danger of missing the NCAA Tournament for the second time in three years after earning bids in 19 of Hall’s first 21 seasons at Tech.

Hall has not abandoned hope that a bid is still possible, though he recognizes it will take some work.

“We just have to make sure we get in the ACC Tournament, so I think that’s what’s kind of first and foremost,” Hall said. “I wouldn’t say the NCAA Tournament is out, but in saying that, we’ve got to win most of our games. We can’t lose games if we are to have a chance to get an at-large bid into the NCAA. Right now, I’d say we’re in position, certainly, to play well and make the ACC Tournament.”

Tech is 6-15 in the ACC, tied with Boston College for the worst in the 14-team ACC. The league tournament takes the top 12 teams. After Tech and Boston College, four teams are tied at 8-13. Tech will play two of those teams, Duke and Pittsburgh, in its final three ACC series this season.

The Jackets are showing some spark since the first game against Georgia, a 5-1 loss to the Bulldogs in Athens on April 11 in which Tech struck out 15 times. The Jackets were swept the following weekend by No. 2 Louisville, but beat Mercer and Georgia State in midweek games last week before taking two of three from Virginia Tech. The Jackets have hit .289 in that span while limiting the opposition to .238 hitting.

Tech will start Ben Schniederjans, who threw seven shutout innings against Georgia State last Wednesday in a 7-0 win.

Georgia’s season to this point has been ungainly. The Bulldogs are 16-25 and have won one of six SEC series. The Bulldogs are 12th in the conference in batting average and last in ERA and fielding percentage. But if they can beat Tech at Russ Chandler, they’ll win the season series for the second consecutive year. The Bulldogs have won four of the past five games in the series.

Kevin Smith will start on the mound for Georgia. Smith has had a difficult season (6.90 ERA) but threw two scoreless innings against Tech in Athens.

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