Posted: Monday, May 5th 2003 at 5:51am
Florida St. takes over ACC lead
ATLANTA - Stephen Drew homered twice and drove in five runs to lead the second-ranked Florida State to a 12-7 win over No. 10 Georgia Tech on Sunday afternoon at Russ Chandler Stadium in the rubber match of a three-game Atlantic Coast Conference series.
The Seminoles (40-8-1, 13-5 ACC) won two of three games in the series and moved into sole first place in the ACC standings.
Georgia Tech (33-13, 12-6) and N.C. State (14-7 ACC) are tied for second place by percentage points, and the two schools will meet in two weeks in Atlanta following the Yellow Jackets' trip to Virginia next weekend. Florida State closes the regular season on the road at Maryland and Duke over the next two weeks.
FSU reliever Daniel Hodges (4-0) earned the win after shutting down Georgia Tech's hitters in what had become a wild offensive shootout in the middle innings. The southpaw held the Yellow Jackets scoreless over the final 4.1 innings, allowing just four base runners.
Tech reliever Andrew Kown (3-2) took the loss.
Florida State only outhit Georgia Tech, 11-10, but five of the Seminoles' hits left the yard for home runs, including two from Drew, an one each from Tony McQuade, Tony Richie and Blake Balkcom.
After the Seminoles took a 1-0 lead in the top of the third inning with a solo home run from McQuade, his eighth of the year, the Yellow Jackets erupted to four runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 4-1 lead. Jeremy Slayden led off with a solo home run, his sixth of the year. Tyler Greene legged out an infield single and Eric Patterson reached on a throwing error from shortstop Stephen Drew before Matt Murton belted a two-out, three-run home run to right field, his 13th of the season. Mike Nickeas nearly gave the Yellow Jackets back-to-back home runs, but FSU right fielder Blake Balkcom stole the ball just over the top of the right field fence.
Florida State answered immediately with three runs in the top of the fourth inning to tie the score at 4-4. A hit batsman, walk and ground out put runners on second and third bases, and Bryan Zech drove in Jerrod Brown with a sacrifice fly to center field. Aaron Cheesman and Stephen Drew each followed with two-out doubles to drive in the last two runs of the inning and tie the game.
Tech then answered with three runs in the bottom of the fifth to tae a 7-4 lead on a sac fly from Slayden, a RBI double from Steve Blackwood and a RBI triple from Patterson. A pair of solo home runs from Tony Richie, his 10th of the year, Balkcom, his fourth, pulled the Seminoles to within 7-6 in the top of the fifth inning.
Drew gave the Seminoles an 8-7 lead in the top of the sixth inning with a two-run homer, while his second home run of the game made the score 12-7 in the top of the seventh following a two-run single from Matt Sauls.
The Yellow Jackets had a chance to cut into the lead and get back into the game when they loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, but Hodges retired Patterson on a fly out to right field to end the threat. Hodges then retired the side in order in the bottom of the ninth inning to close out the game.
Murton's home run in the third inning, the 30th of his career, made him just the ninth player in Georgia Tech history to record at least 30 career home runs and 30 stolen bases.
The weekend series drew 10,655 fans to Russ Chandler Stadium, the largest three-game series total in stadium history and eclipsing the previous record of 8,701 against Miami in 1998. The Yellow Jackets, however, dropped a thee-game series at Russ Chandler Stadium for the first time since the facility was rebuilt prior to the 2002 season.
Georgia Tech returns to action on Tuesday when the Yellow Jackets visit Georgia State at 7 p.m. in a game that will be televised regionally on Comcast Sports Southeast.
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