First Georgia-Georgia Tech baseball matchup goes to Jackets

Georgia Tech's Justyn-Henry Malloy rounds third after hitting a three-run home run during a game against Georgia at Foley Field in Athens, Ga., on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (Photo by Tony Walsh/UGA)
Georgia Tech's Justyn-Henry Malloy rounds third after hitting a three-run home run during a game against Georgia at Foley Field in Athens, Ga., on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (Photo by Tony Walsh/UGA)

Credit: Tony Walsh

Credit: Tony Walsh

Georgia Tech’s winning play on the road continued Tuesday night, this time over archrival Georgia in Athens.

ExplorePlan for three-game series next year

Catalyzed by a three-run home run from Justyn-Henry Malloy in the first inning, the Yellow Jackets defeated Georgia 7-5 at Foley Field. Tech improved to 20-16 overall and 12-5 away from home.

“Great win on the road against a really, really good team,” said coach Danny Hall, who enjoyed his first win in Athens since 2015, ending a five-game road losing streak to the Bulldogs.

The win over UGA, ranked No. 26 in RPI through Monday’s games, gives Tech a lift (59th in RPI) as it heads into a three-game series with Kennesaw State this weekend at Mac Nease Baseball Park. Against the Bulldogs, Tech did what it has often been unable of late. The Jackets scored first, drove in three of their runs with two outs and allowed only two walks (while drawing 10).

It was enough to subdue their nemeses in red and black and position the Jackets for a two-game season sweep when the teams meet for the second and final time in the regular season in Atlanta on May 18. Georgia (26-14) was slowed, for one night at least, after having won its past three weekend series and past two midweek games, a stretch of 8-3.

Malloy, a transfer from Vanderbilt, continued his excellent play this season. The first-inning bomb was the third baseman’s team-leading seventh of the season. His 29 RBI are most on the team and his .550 slugging percentage is second behind Parada among regulars. Malloy’s home run chased UGA starter Hank Bearden, who came into the game with a 1.06 ERA in 17 innings, with only one out recorded. Malloy drove in Luke Waddell and Tres Gonzalez, who drew the first two of the Jackets’ 10 walks.

Hall called on four of his lefthanded pitchers, starting with Dalton Smith, who made only the second start of his career. Smith gave up two runs, one earned, in three innings, striking out five. Smith was credited with the win (2-0), while Bearden (3-1) was assigned the loss.

He was followed by Joseph Mannelly (three innings, two runs allowed, both earned), Sam Crawford (one inning, one run allowed, earned) and Luke Bartnicki, who threw two scoreless innings to earn his sixth save of the season.

“I thought that they did a good job of just managing traffic, pitching out of trouble when we really needed them to,” Hall said of Smith and Mannelly in an interview for the Tech website.

Austin Wilhite produced an insurance run in the top of the ninth, hitting a two-out double to center off Darryn Pasqua that scored Jake DeLeo from first to make the score 7-5.

“I thought (it was) just a really, really good team win,” Hall said. “I thought getting the lead early with Malloy’s home run was huge, and then I think Austin Wilhite’s double late to get us another run also was huge.”

In the bottom of the eighth, Tech catcher Kevin Parada made perhaps the defensive play of the game. After giving up a leadoff single to Connor Tate, Bartnicki threw an outside pitch in the dirt to the lefthanded Garrett Blaylock.

Apparently thinking the pitch would get away from Parada, Tate took off for second, only for Parada to glove the pitch cleanly out of the dirt and fire to shortstop Luke Waddell, who chased Tate back to first, where first baseman Andrew Jenkins recorded the 2-6-3 putout. Instead of the tying runner on second with no outs, Georgia instead had the bases empty with one out. Bartnicki retired the next two batters to get to the ninth.

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