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Ken Sugiura

After sweep of Duke, Tech baseball’s tough road ahead

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A week after getting swept by Pittsburgh, the Georgia Tech baseball team returned above the .500 mark in ACC play by sweeping Duke at home  by 7-4, 5-1 and 1-0 scores. Tech is now 19-13 overall and 8-7 in the ACC.

Sunday starter Matthew Grimes continued his strong season in his return from Tommy John surgery, throwing six shutout innings. Grimes is 4-1 with a 3.21 ERA despite a .272 opponent batting average. Reliever Sam Clay lowered his ERA to 0.42, appearing in all three games and not allowing any runs.

Second baseman Mott Hyde extended his hitting streak to 10 games, during which he has hit .366.

Some other trivia:

1. The rest of the way for Tech is an arduous route. The Jackets’ remaining series are against Florida State (No. 2 in RPI, according to boydsworld.com), Maryland (13), N.C. State (42), Virginia Tech (115) and Virginia (10). The Maryland, N.C. State and Virginia series are on the road.

Tech is No. 56 in RPI, according to boydsworld.com. It’s entirely plausible that the Jackets could lose four of their final five ACC series. That said, while the Jackets were swept by Pittsburgh (111) two weekends ago, they also beat North Carolina (65) and Miami (No. 26).

To get into the NCAA tournament, Tech could have to win three of the final five series. (There’s an additional non-conference series at the end of the regular season against South Florida.) Boyd Nation, who operates boydsworld.com (I’m not sure if Nation is actually his last name; I suspect it is), wrote to me that ACC and SEC teams “seldom make it higher than about # 47,” which was an interesting delineation point, but, who am I to question Boyd Nation?

2. Pitching out of the bullpen and another year’s experience seem to be making a remarkable difference for Dusty Isaacs. Last year, Isaacs typically struggled as a starter but pitched much better out of the bullpen. He was converted to a full-time reliever this season and has a staff-leading 2.39 ERA, though his .264 opponent batting average is a bit heavy.

One significant difference for Isaacs: no home runs and four extra-base hits in 26 1/3 innings thus far. Last year, he gave up 11 home runs and 24 extra-base hits in 82 2/3 innings. As a result, he had a 4.90 ERA despite a slightly better opponent batting average (.260).

3. To that end, another number-crunched note: Tech’s opponent batting average is relatively similar, .253 this year and .263 last year. Tech gives up 8.4 hits per nine innings this year after giving up 8.9 hits per nine innings last year. The strikeout/walk ratio (1.67 this year, 1.73 last year) are practically the same.

Yet the ERA is 3.30 this year after it was a bloated 4.35 last year. The most noticeable difference is home runs. Last year, the Jackets gave up one every 14.2 innings – about two every three games – while the rate this season is one per 29.8, about one every third game.

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