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March 14, 2003page 21 of 26

Swinging for the fences
No. 1 Jackets trounce the Tigers 4-2, improving to 15-0

By Joseph Jeong
Staff Writer
ATLANTA
March 14, 2003




By Tim Cailloux / STUDENT PUBLICATIONS

Sophomore Brandon Boggs slammed two homers in the Jacket's 5-3 victory over Campbell on the Tuesday of spring break.

Tech's baseball team is now just one win away from matching history and two from making it. With an undefeated homestand over Spring break and an impressive road win over No. 10 Auburn, Tech improved to 15-0 for the season and moved to just one win the best season start ever by a Tech team, which was set by the 1987 squad.

The first home series was against George Washington. Tech won the first game convincingly 13-4 but had cooler bats in the second game and only managed to edge out the visitors 4-2.

Tech's ace Kyle Bakker and Chris Goodman picked wins respectively. The Jackets closed out the series with a 9-2 win, as freshman Jason Neighborgall continued to impress on the mound as he picked up second win of the season.

The mid-week series was against an unheralded Campbell team, but they gave the home team almost too much to handle. The first game, Tech held off Campbell 5-3 behind Brandon Boggs' brace of homers and solid pitching by Micah Owings, who picked up the win, and Brian Burks. The second game was even closer as Tech escaped with a 3-1 win.

There was late game drama as Campbell threatened a comeback in both the eighth and ninth innings. In the eighth inning, Tech's best reliever Jeff Watchko had to be called upon to get Tech out of a bases loaded two outs jam. In the ninth, Watchko had to pitch Tech out of a jam with runners in the corners with no outs.

A sacrifice fly by Campbell's Derek Barrows drove in the only run for the visitors, before Watchko pulled Tech out of the fire again. Tech's Andrew Kown picked up the win by pitching six shutout innings in his first start for the Jackets.

In the other weekend series, visitors Rutgers gave Tech its biggest scare of the season so far. Tech won the first game convicingly 11-6, but really struggled in the second. Tech trailed for much of the second game and was down as much as 5-1 going into the bottom of the sixth inning.

However, Tech's relievers Aaron Walker, Burks, and Watchko shut the Scarlet Knights out from the seventh inning on, and Tech's offense managed to squeeze a run in every inning from then on. Freshman Steven Blackwood's leadoff homer in the bottom of the tenth sealed the win for Tech as Rutger's valiant challenge faded away.

The third game proved to be another tough one for Tech as they needed more late game heroics to complete the sweep. Mike Nickeas and Boggs both hit solo home runs in the bottom of the eighth to put the finishing touches on a close 7-6 win over the Scarlet Knights.

Tech picked up their most impressive win of the season so far as they beat No. 10 Auburn at their park. Freshman Micah Owings pitched six strong innings, giving up just one run, walking just one, striking out seven, and picking up his fourth win of the season. He also helped his own cause by hitting a home run.

Tyler Greene and Matt Murton also homered for the Jackets. Watchko held off two late rallies in the eighth and ninth by the host to pick up his third save of the season.

Tech will attempt to match and surpass the 16-0 start by the 1987 squad this weekend, when they face Kent State for a three game series. Pitching so far as been the strength of this Tech squad, but bats will have to start getting warmer and more consistent if they wish to make a return ot Omaha.


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