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Tech looking for another ACC ring

ATLANTA - Ryan Turner isn't worried about the history surrounding recent ACC Baseball Tournament champions.

For now, the Georgia Tech left-hander is more concerned with getting some jewelry to adorn his naked fingers.

"My high school team never won anything. I don't have any rings," said Turner, who attended Lumpkin County High School in Dahlonega. "I definitely want to win the ACC Tournament. I want to win a ring this year."

The top-seeded Yellow Jackets (38-16) open the ACC Tournament today against No. 10 Maryland/No. 8 Wake Forest at 7 p.m. at The Baseball Grounds of Jacksonville.

But history suggests that winning the tournament isn't the best long-term move. No ACC Tournament champion has advanced to the College World Series since Florida State in 1995, including the Yellow Jackets in 2000 and 2003.

"Everyone wants to do well in this tournament, but you can tell everybody has their eyes on a couple of weeks down the road," Turner said. "That's a bigger deal for most people."

But first things first. If the Yellow Jackets are to back up their second consecutive regular-season title with a tournament crown, it will be up to Turner and the rest of the pitching staff.

Turner, a 6-foot-1 left-hander, excelled down the stretch, allowing just two runs in his last 19 innings pitched. Turner pitched seven scoreless innings, despite five walks, in the Yellow Jackets' season finale against North Carolina. The victory gave Tech the outright ACC title.

"He's just pitching good," Tech coach Danny Hall said. "He's pitched out of trouble. It's the sign of a good pitcher when he can make pitches with people on base."

Turner finished the season 7-3 with a 2.92 ERA.

"The season started off a little shaky. The goal at the start of the season was to be in the weekend rotation and it didn't start off that way," said Turner, who eventually became the team's Sunday starter. "Now I'm throwing like I knew I could."

Turner is likely to start the Yellow Jackets' third game of the tournament. Lee Hyde (7-3, 4.61) will start tonight and the team's most consistent starter, Blake Wood, will get the nod Thursday. Wood finished the season 9-1 with a 3.32 ERA.

The Yellow Jackets' powerful offense has made the starters' jobs a lot easier this season. Tech is second in the nation in scoring at 9.8 runs per game. That kind of support puts a pitcher at ease.

"We don't put any pressure on ourselves. We know we have a powerful offense," Wood said. "We feel that if we hold the other team to five or fewer runs, we're going to win a lot of games."