The reigning ACC Champions, Georgia Tech, visit Statesboro tonight to take on Georgia Southern at J.I. Clements Stadium in the first game of a home-and-home series.
The Eagles (3-0) beat the Yellow Jackets (2-1) last year 4-3 at home before getting smacked 13-2 in the second game in Atlanta. The home game brought out 3,213 fans which is the second-largest turnout in Georgia Southern baseball history.
A similar crowd is expected tonight, even with low temperatures looming.
“I think it’s always fun anytime you play a good team, and this game always generates a lot of interest locally,” head coach Rodney Hennon said. “Hopefully people will bundle up and come out.”
Junior RHP Ryan Frederick will get his first start of the year tonight. Frederick transferred from SCAD and walked on last year before appearing in 24 games. He is one of only three returning pitchers to appear in more than 20 games.
Frederick went 4-1 with a 3.88 ERA in 53.1 innings and was named the Southern Conference Pitcher of the Week (3/24/14) for notching wins over Clemson and Appalachian State in a five-game span last season.
Georgia Tech is similar to GSU in some aspects. Both teams return established position players. Both teams can swing the stick, and according to Hennon, both teams are in an ongoing process of evaluation and trying to define some roles.
“They’ve got some experience coming back position wise… they’re always going to have good players,” Hennon said.
The infield trio of Thomas Smith at first, Connor Justus at shortstop and Brandon Gold at third turned the most double plays in GT history last year with 77. Smith was the third-leading hitter for the Ramblin’ Wreck in 2014, hitting .301 with 36 RBI.
OF Matt Gonzalez, who hit .314 with 37 RBI also returns for GT. Gonzalez struggled in Opening Weekend, going 1-12 in three games. Georgia Tech has a good offense, but an MLB scout said over the weekend that he thinks Georgia Southern has the best bats in the state.
Cather Chase Griffin had two hits in each of the three games against Bethune-Cookman. He’s got a .429 average as of now. OF Kody Adams hit .455 going 5-11 with three runs, and drew three walks. 3B Will Hudgins, a freshman, hit safely in each of the three games as well.
The Eagles bullpen had a strong outing this weekend, too. Nine different pitchers saw action. LHP Jason Richman didn’t give up a run over 2.1 innings and earned his first win. LHP Anthony Peasano picked up a save in Saturday’s game in 2.0 scoreless innings.
LHP Byron Yelverton, RHP Caleb Pressey and Frederick all threw in relief and didn’t allow a run.
For fans of offense, good baseball, fun atmospheres and plenty of blankets, tonight is your night. Hennon said playing against Tech is always a good game to coach.
“I think it’s fun for the coaches and the players, on both sides, to play in front of big crowds. That’s what college baseball is about,” Hennon said.