March 26, 2013

Late Home Runs Rally Georgia Tech Past The Citadel

Atlanta – Daniel Spingola lofted a two-run homer just over the fence in right center with one out in the bottom of the ninth to cap a late Georgia Tech comeback and give the Yellow Jackets a 5-4 victory over The Citadel on Tuesday at Russ Chandler Stadium.

The 16th-ranked Yellow Jackets (19-5) scored all five of their runs in the final three innings to deny the Bulldogs a signature victory over one of the elite programs in the country. The Citadel (15-10) was seeking its first win over an ACC team since a 7-2 win over Virginia Tech in the 2010 Columbia Regional and first in the regular season since defeating NC State in 2004.

The Bulldogs never trailed until Spingola hit his first career home run off closer Skylar Hunter. The Citadel took a 4-1 lead into the bottom of the eighth when Daniel Palka homered off David Rivera to make it a one-run game.

After the Bulldogs went in order in the top of the ninth, Matt Gonzalez singled to lead off the bottom of the inning and was sacrificed to second. The left handed hitting Spingola followed by taking advantage of the short power alley in right center to send The Citadel home disappointed.

The trio of starter Austin Mason and relievers Logan Cribb and Zach Sherrill blanked the powerful Georgia Tech lineup through six shutout innings, allowing only four hits in the process.

The Yellow Jackets began the week leading the nation in hitting with a .351 average while also ranking first in slugging percentage and second in scoring, averaging 9.3 runs per contest. Georgia Tech had scored in double figures 14 times this season and reached double figures in hits 18 times but could do neither against the Bulldog pitching staff on Tuesday.

The Citadel offense, meanwhile, was able to scratch across a pair of runs in the fourth when Bo Thompson and Johnathan Stokes walked around a single by Tyler Griffin. Calvin Orth drove in Thompson and Griffin to give The Citadel a 2-0 lead, and an RBI single by Joe Jackson in the seventh made it a three-run game.

Mason gained the start after his scheduled outing against Charleston Southern on Sunday was rained out, and the freshman right hander allowed only one hit and struck out two in his two innings of work. Cribb also fanned two in his two shutout innings while Sherrill, making his national-leading 20th relief appearance of the season, surrendered just one hit in two innings.

The Yellow Jackets broke up the shutout in the bottom of the seventh when Spingola got his first big hit of the game, a two-out double off Rivera that scored Gonzalez to make it 3-1. The earned run was the first allowed by Rivera in 21 innings this season.

Griffin quickly pushed the lead back up to three when he clobbered a long home run to right for his seventh round tripper of the season, one behind team leader Thompson.

Stokes and Orth joined Griffin with two hits each for The Citadel. Mason Davis went 0-for-4 to see his career-long 11-game hitting streak come to an end. Thompson's walk extended his streak to 21 straight games reaching base this season and 24 in a row dating back to the end of the 2012 campaign.

Freshman left hander Jonathan King made his first career start for Georgia Tech and surrendered five hits and two runs over five innings. Gonzalez led the Yellow Jacket attack with three hits.

The Bulldogs return to Southern Conference action this weekend with a three-game set against Western Carolina in Cullowhee, N.C.

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