Often using six left-handed batters in its lineup, Georgia Tech's baseball team has seen more than its share of southpaw pitchers this season.
The Yellow Jackets have taken the theory that left-handed pitchers are adept at getting out left-handed batters and bashed it to the tune of a 20-7 win-loss record against lefty starters this season.
Unfortunately for Tech, two of those losses came in last week's early exit in the ACC tournament. Other than to their pride, the losses didn't hurt too much, and No. 8 Tech (45-13) will host a regional starting Friday. The Jackets will play Mercer, who will start ... a left-hander, Brandon Love, in their 7 p.m. game at Russ Chandler Stadium. Should Tech defeat the Bears, the Jackets are sure to see lefties from either Alabama or Elon on Saturday.
Mercer coach Craig Gibson actually altered his usual pitching rotation to shift Love, normally the Saturday starter, to Friday simply to get that lefty-lefty combo.
"Baseball is a game about match-ups," said Gibson, whose son Tyler, a left-handed batter, is being recruited by Tech coach Danny Hall for the 2011 class. "One thing about Tech -- that is one of the best line-ups I've had a chance to see. It's hard to match up with them."
At issue: A left-hander's pitches carry away from left-handed batters, making them harder to get the barrel of bat on or pull. The same is true for righties facing righties.
While the Jackets struggled in two games in the ACC tourney, in their win they hammered two N.C. State left-handed relievers for five runs in 1 1/3 innings. Gibson said Tech is especially tough at home because of the jet stream that flows to right field. Mistakes turn into home runs.
"Georgia Tech can back you into a corner to make a decision," Florida State coach Mike Martin said. "You aren't going into Georgia Tech and throwing some left-handed starter who can't spot the ball because they are going to wear you out."
Despite what they are likely to see this weekend, combined with the results in the ACC tourney, Tech's coaches and batters don't seem too worried. They said there were two contributing factors to the poor results in Greensboro: the team feel behind early in both losses, and they were facing pitchers that they good-naturedly describe as "poohballers." A "poohballer" is a pitcher whose fastball is a few mph less than the speed batters usually see.
Assistant coach Bryan Prince, who works with with the team on its hitting, said the team was going to spend the week refining their techniques and focusing on their fundamentals so that they don't try to make up a five-run deficit with one swing.
"If we go up there with the right mindset, and the right approach, we're not going to struggle against anybody," senior Jay Dantzler said.
Hefty against lefties
How Tech has performed against the left-handed starters whose teams have beaten them:
May 29/Clemson, Will Lamb/6 1/3/2/4
May 27/Virginia Tech, Justin Wright/9/2/15
May 15/Miami, Chris Hernandez/6/2/6
April 23/Virginia Tech, Justin Wright/8/1/8
April 9/Virginia, Danny Hultzen/7/4/11
March 31/Kennesaw State, Zak Griffith 6 2/3/2/4
Feb. 28/Xavier, Jon Richard/5/4/2
Alabama vs. Elon, 3 p.m.
Georgia Tech vs. Mercer, 7 p.m.
Game 1 loser vs. Game 2 loser, 3 p.m.
Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 7 p.m.