GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Baseballs were flying out of McKethan Stadium today, but a ball that traveled about five feet was the turning point in Georgia Tech’s 8-4 win over College of Charleston in the NCAA regionals.
With two out in the second inning and the score tied at 3-3, Cougars catcher Jimmy Holton mishandled a high-hopper right in front of the plate, his throw to first base too late to catch Kyle Wren.
A bloop single and then a three-run home run by Brandon Thomas followed, and the second-seeded Yellow Jackets suddenly had a 7-3 lead they would not surrender.
Georgia Tech’s Jake Davies also had a three-run blast, out-gunning a two-run homer by College of Charleston’s Marty Gantt and sending the third-seeded Cougars (37-21) to the losers’ bracket.
Charleston will square off at 1 p.m. Saturday against the loser of tonight’s game between No. 1 Florida and No. 4 Bethune-Cookman.
Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall’s gamble of holding back ace pitcher Buck Farmer for a potential matchup with the Gators paid off, but only because the Jackets’ bats bailed out freshman pitcher Cole Pitts.
Pitts (7-4) was tagged for 10 hits and four runs by the Cougars in 3 2/3 innings. The Cougars cut Tech’s lead to 7-4 in the fourth, chasing Pitts with two walks and a bloop single by Brandon Murray. Reliever Dusty Isaacs came on to strike out Rob Harding, stranding two.
Gantt led off the game with a solid single past third, stole second and scored on Murray’s single to right. Pitts gave up five hits in the inning, but the Cougars left the bases loaded and settled for a 1-0 lead.
The Jackets came right back as clean-up hitter Davies bombed a first-pitch, three-run homer over the wall in right field to give Tech a 3-1 lead. Powell put two on with a Sam Dove single and a walk before Davies’ 14th homer of the season.
Gantt answered in the second with a tremendous two-run blast over the wall in left-center, after Holton reached on an error. Gantt’s 11th homer tied it at 3-3.
Powell (9-4), the SoCon pitcher of the year, lasted only 3 1/3 innings, undone by the error and two three-run homers. Only three of the seven runs he allowed were earned, and he struck out four and walked three while giving up seven hits.