Tech hoping bats awake for ACC tournament

The Georgia Tech baseball team left for Greensboro, N.C., for the ACC tournament Monday scheduled for a play-in game Tuesday afternoon.

The Yellow Jackets didn’t know how long they might be there and, on a related note, perhaps didn’t have much idea of how they might hit once they reached NewBridge Bank Park.

Tech, which plays Wake Forest in a 3 p.m. game (Fox Sports South) to determine which team will play in a four-team pool with Miami, Duke and Clemson, may have broken out of a weeks-long slump against South Florida this past weekend. Or, it might have just been a blip on the radar.

“I think we swung the bat better,” coach Danny Hall said. “I think we’ll have more confidence, but now you’re going into postseason play; everybody’s got good pitchers.”

After losing 8-0 in the first game of the USF series Thursday, the Jackets won 3-0 Friday and then ripped the Bulls Saturday 12-5 with a season-high 19 hits. Tech hit .337 in the series.

“I thought we had some great at-bats up and down our lineup,” Hall said.

Tech’s average stood at .287 after beating Georgia April 15 and its record was 24-14, but over the next 15 games going into the USF series, the Jackets hit .240 and were 6-9. If the Jackets’ showing against USF was the first step of an offensive correction, they could be in position to make a strong postseason run. After starting pitcher Matthew Grimes, who shut out Georgia over seven innings in his last outing and will go against Wake Forest, Tech can run out Devin Stanton (1.08 ERA in his last seven starts), Josh Heddinger (3.62 ERA) and Ben Parr (2.44 ERA in nine starts).

If Tech can beat Wake Forest, those three would likely be called upon for the pool-play games. The winners of the two pools (Florida State, Virginia, Maryland and the winner of Tuesday’s North Carolina-N.C. State game are in the other) will play Sunday.

“As long as we score ’em some runs, they’re not going to give up many, so I think we’re going to be good,” said second baseman Mott Hyde, chosen All-ACC on Monday.

The Jackets further have two strong bullpen options in Sam Clay (.173 opposing batting average) and Dusty Isaacs (five saves, .246).

“This year, we started off with some people who may not be as well known, but that’s one of the things I’m most proud of being one of the leaders on the staff, how we’ve all kind of come together,” Isaacs said.

Wake Forest will start Jack Fischer, who has a 4-6 record and a 3.56 ERA. Fischer earned a complete-game victory in a 9-2 decision against Tech in March. The Demon Deacons took two of three from Tech, the only team to beat the Jackets in a three-game series at Russ Chandler Stadium this season.

Also swirling in the mix is Tech’s standing as an NCAA tournament possibility. The Jackets are ranked No. 39 in RPI, which would seem to put them in pretty good shape for their 28th NCAA tournament berth in the past 30 years.

Tech has won series against the Nos. 3 (Florida State), 12 (Miami), 44 (North Carolina) and 55 (Georgia) teams in the country.

“I think we have a great body of work,” Hall said. “Is that going to be good enough for somebody on the NCAA committee to say Georgia Tech is in the tournament? That remains to be seen.”