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ACC Tournament Opponent Preview: Georgia Tech

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Meet the Yellow Jackets... the 2021 ACC Coastal Division champs

COLLEGE BASEBALL: MAR 01 Georgia at Georgia Tech Photo by David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Who’s the Pack playing?

Opponent: Georgia Tech

Mascot: Asshats with wings | School Location: Atlanta, GA | Conference: ACC

2021 Record: 29-22 (21-15, 1st Coastal) | 2021 RPI Rank: 44

2020 Record: 11-5 (2-1, T-2nd Coastal) | 2019 RPI Rank: 55

2019 Record: 43-19 (19-11, 1st Coastal) | 2018 RPI Rank: 12


When? Where? How do I watch?

Location: Truist Field (Charlotte, NC)

Game Time(s): Sat, May 29 @ 5:00pm

TV: ACC Network / WatchESPN

Radio: TuneIn App

Live Stats: Stat Broadcast


Tell me about this team

It’s a little dated, but here’s the series preview for Georgia Tech from back in February.

Georgia Tech started fast in ACC play this season, winning four of their first five series to take an early lead in the Coastal Division. After a mid-season lull where they lost three of four series to drop out of 1st place in their division, the Yellow Jackets won two of their last three series to finish 12 game up on Miami for the Coastal Division title.

The Jackets are one of the best hitting teams in the conference, being the only ACC squad to finish with a .300 team batting average in conference play. They also led the ACC in doubles with 91 (Notre Dame was 2nd with 73), despite being an average team in home run power. GT doesn’t push the issue on the bases (partly by design, partly because there’s just not a lot of speed to do it) and doesn’t give up many free outs via sacrifice bunts, but they use excellent overall bat-to-ball skills and decent plate discipline (including a few exceptional players) to get the big inning and push pressure on opposing pitching staffs.

On the mound, GT has an ace in Brant Hurter, a decent 2nd option (Andy Archer), and then utilizes an opener approach (Sam Crawford) for Sundays. That approach puts a lot of innings on the bullpen. The good news for the Jackets is that they have a lot of bullpen options available. The bad news is that a lot of those guys reside more on the “wild” end of the spectrum in terms of control. Talent aplenty, but always with a “which version of this guy are we getting today” uncertainty.


Who’s on the mound for these guys?

Saturday: TBD... but probably either RHP Andy Archer (rJR) or LHP Sam Crawford (rSO)


Key Players:

Offense

C Kevin Parada (FR) - .328/.388/.556, 20 2B, 2 3B, 7 HR, 39 R, 37 RBI, 15 BB, 38 K, 1-2 SB. 3rd Team All-ACC and ACC All-Freshman team selection this year. The next in a long line of great catchers to come out of the ACC. Tremendous bat, but not the greatest at keeping the opposing run game at bay (has only thrown out 5-of-46 attempted base stealers this year).

SS Luke Waddell (JR) - .314/.413/.464, 11 2B, 1 3B, 6 HR, 37 R, 29 RBI, 29 BB, 16 K, 10 HBP, 3-6 SB. GT’s only 1st Team All-ACC selection this year. Likely high draft pick this year given his defensive flexibility (can play all three infield positions) and advanced approach at the plate. Leadoff hitter with more speed than the SB numbers indicate.

1B Andrew Jenkins (FR) - .305/.378/.546, 11 2B, 1 3B, 7 HR, 25 R, 31 RBI, 7 BB, 38 K, 12 HBP, 2-3 SB. Probably would have been an ACC All-Freshman team pick this year if not for the presence of Caden Grice at Clemson. Had a rough start to the year, but caught fire over the 2nd half of the season. Has hits in 14 of his last 15 games, including four straight games with multiple hits.

3B Justyn-Henry Malloy (SO) - .296/.433/.550, 16 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 49 R, 39 RBI, 45 BB, 38 K, 4-5 SB. 3rd Team All-ACC pick this year. Transfer from Vanderbilt.

Pitching

RHP Andy Archer (rJR) - 4-5, 5.45 ERA, 66.0 IP, 69 H, 33 BB, 70 K. Pitched 2.1 IP in relief vs Louisville on Thursday, but only threw 35 pitches, so he could be back for this one. Allowed 3 runs over 4.2 IP vs State in February, but tallied 9 Ks in the process.

LHP Sam Crawford (rSO) - 3-4, 5.36 ERA, 50.1 IP, 55 H, 19 BB, 35 K. Faced three hitters and threw 14 pitches vs Louisville on Thursday. Went 3.2 IP vs State back in February, allowing 1 run on 2 hits with 3 walks and 2 strikeouts. Local kid from St. David’s HS in Raleigh.

RHP Zach Maxwell (FR) - 2-2, 3 SV, 3.26 ERA, 30.1 IP, 19 H, 37 BB, 54 K. As you can see from the numbers, wild but effective. Incredible swing-and-miss stuff when he can find the zone. Threw 56 pitches in relief on Thursday.

LHP Luke Bartnicki (SO) - 2-2, 6 SV, 6.11 ERA, 35.1 IP, 42 H, 18 BB, 34 K. Threw 2.2 IP (27 pitches) of hitless relief vs Louisville. 29th round pick (Diamondbacks) out of high school in 2018. Numbers look off due to four bad (really bad) outings this year.

LHP Joseph Mannelly (rSO) - 2-0, 0 SV, 5.60 ERA, 27.1 IP, 27 H, 16 BB, 28 K. Aside from the Bartnicki, is the next best lefty reliever on the team, which means he’s likely to appear in this one vs some of State’s lefty bats.


Quick! Fun Facts!

You’re probably confused how Waddell was a 1st Team All-ACC pick this year at SS when NC State’s Jose Torres was selected as 1st Team All-ACC this year also at SS. Well, there were two positions (catcher being the other) where the ACC selected two 1st team players this year.

This is the 4th time in the last 5 ACC Tournaments that the Yellow Jackets and Wolfpack have met (GT has won 3 of the previous 4 meetings, including eliminating State in the semifinals in 2019).


Prediction

State will be sending Sam Highfill to the mound as they look to exact some revenge and advance to the championship game. Thankfully for State, GT used Brant Hurter (who destroyed State back in February) against Louisville on Thursday, so he shouldn’t be available for this one.

Outcome: It’s hard to beat a team four times in one season, and this NC State team is not the same NC State team that played Georgia Tech back in February. The Wolfpack pull out a hard-fought victory.