GAINESVILLE, Fla. – For better or worse, Georgia Tech is in familiar position. The Jackets are again in a must-win position, just like the final day of the regular season when they were in a potentially do-or-die scenario to get into the ACC tournament, then in three consecutive pool-play games first to enhance their NCAA tournament resume and then to get into the title game, followed by the actual title-game.
As you likely well know, Tech won all five of those games, followed by the Friday win over College of Charleston in its NCAA regional opener.
To get out of the NCAA Gainesville regional, Tech has a bear of a climb – beat College of Charleston at noon, beat Florida at 6 p.m. and beat the Gators again Monday at 7 p.m.
“There’s no pressure,” catcher Zane Evans said. “Just go out there and have fun, do what we’ve been doing the whole season, battle and give it our all.”
Alex Cruz will start for Tech. Cruz has turned into one of the most valuable players on the team with a 7-3 record and a 2.00 ERA. He’s thrown 67.2 innings in 29 appearances, all in relief. He has a team-best .188 opponent batting average.
Josh Renfro will go for the Cougars. He’s 6-7 with a 3.66 ERA, 14 starts in 18 appearances. He has a .288 opponent batting average.
The game will be broadcast on ESPN2.
As for the potential Florida game, the starter will either be Josh Heddinger or Jake Davies. My guess would be Davies. Coach Danny Hall mentioned earlier he wanted Davies, a lefty, to pitch against the Gators’ lefty-heavy lineup.
That figures to be a pretty testy environment. The game Saturday night got a little chippy. There were two drawn-out confrontations with umpires, resulting in ejections of Hall and a Florida assistant. The first, which resulted in a strikeout of Davies getting overturned on appeal, clearly fired up Florida catcher Mike Zunino after Davies struck out swinging. He led off the next inning and homered to deep left center.
“Emotions were running high, obviously, and we thought it was a big turning point right there,” said of pitcher Hudson Randall’s strikeout of Davies. “We were just pretty much wanting to keep momentum and that was our main focus.”
Further, Florida’s Nolan Fontana appeared to kick Evans’ mask after getting thrown out at home later in the game.
As for what impact it’ll have, hard to say. It may increase the size of the chip on Tech’s shoulder, but on the other hand, it probably geared up the Gators, also. Should they make it to Sunday night, the Jackets won’t catch them sleeping, certainly.
Enjoy the fireworks.