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Grimes outduels Hawkins

Photo by Brandon Brigman

Photo by Brandon Brigman

ATHENS -- The famous baseball "book" often prompts managers to try to counteract powerful left-handed bats with left-handed pitchers.

Georgia coach Dave Perno may want to rethink that particular chapter of the book after the Bulldogs fell 15-6 to archival and nationally ranked Georgia Tech on Tuesday night at Foley Field.

The Yellow Jackets (18-4, No. 12 in Collegiate Baseball, No. 15 in USA Today/ESPN and No. 17 in Baseball America) struck for their first seven runs on seven hits by lefty hitters off southpaw pitchers, four of which were driven in by Matt Skole.

The junior third baseman finished the night 5-for-5 with two home runs -- including a grand slam -- and eight RBIs.

"That's something we work on in practice," said Skole on facing so many left-handers. "We've got a lot of big, power-hitting lefties. We're just trying to put the ball in play, being disciplined. We did a good job getting to them (Tuesday) night. Hopefully, that continues."

A pair of three-run outbursts, keyed by the lefty hits, helped make a winner of Tech's Matthew Grimes (4-1) in a battle of former Gwinnett high school pitchers.

The Mill Creek grad scattered five hits and two earned runs and two strikeouts with no walks over six effective innings to outduel Georgia starter and Brookwood grad Chase Hawkins.

"It's a different ball park and a different atmosphere," said Grimes, who made just his second road start of the season. "It's a little bit more of a hostile environment. I was just excited. Throwing strikes is the name of the game."

Both pitchers rolled through the opponents the first time through the batting order after the first three innings.

Hawkins mowed down Tech on just one hit to Skole and recorded six of the first nine outs on groundballs.

Meanwhile, Grimes gave up just a bloop single to Curt Powell and a bunt single to Peter Verdin, and got five of the first nine Bulldog outs in the air.

But Tech was more patient and began to get better swings at Hawkins the second time through the order.

The Jackets struck for two hits in the top of the fourth, including Skole's one-out solo homer to right, to take a 1-0 lead.

Likewise, Georgia was a little more patient with Grimes the second time through the order before breaking through in the bottom of the fourth.

Kyle Farmer legged out an infield hit after Skole made a spectacular play to nab his two-out grounder inside the bag to bring home Levi Hymes to tie the game 1-1.

Kevin Ruiz then followed with a double to the gap in left center to bring home Farmer.

It was the first hit of the season for the Wesleyan grad, who was making his first career start in right field, and put Georgia in front 2-1.

But the lead didn't last long as Jake Davies reached Hawkins for a solo homer to the opposite field to lead off the fifth, tying the game at 2-2 and signaling the end of the night for the junior left-hander.

It also ignited a three-run Tech rally, with Skole driving in his second run of the night with a single and Daniel Palka adding an RBI double to vault the Jackets into a 4-2 lead.

They then struck for three more in the fifth.

And once again, a pair of hits from left-handed bats -- an RBI single by Kyle Wren and Skole's bloop, two-run single -- off a lefty Georgia pitcher -- in this case, Patrick Boling -- that were key in Tech extending its lead to 7-2, and sending many of the Bulldog faithful in the crowd of 2,639 to the exits.

Hawkins did not factor in the decision, going four solid innings and giving up just the two runs and four hits with two strikeouts and no walks.

He and Grimes were just two of a host of Gwinnett grads to get into Tuesday's game.

Wesleyan grad Devin Stanton was the only other local player for Tech to get in, facing one hitter in the eighth inning and giving up a single to Chase Davidson.

Ruiz had a good night for Georgia, finishing 2-for-4 with the RBI and also recorded an out on the mound, while fellow Wesleyan grad Conor Welton (1-for-1, R) also got into the game late, as did Parkview grad Austin Wheeler (1-for-1).

Grayson's Bryan Benzor pitched a scoreless inning, while Norcross' Tyler Maloof had rough outing in his 2/3 of an inning worked.