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Bulldogs batter Tech 17-0

ATLANTA -- Georgia Tech entered the 11th Annual Spring Classic for Kids as one of the nation's top-hitting college baseball teams, while Georgia has been mired in the middle or near the bottom of the Southeastern Conference in most offensive categories.But the roles were reversed Tuesday night as the Bulldogs pounded out 23 hits on their way to a 17-0 rout of the No. 19-ranked Yellow Jackets before 18,240 fans at Turner Field, their most lopsided win in the series of their in-state rivals since 1899.

Tech (27-14) came into the game ranked in the top 15 nationally in batting average (eighth, .317), home runs (11th, 38), hits (12th, 442), slugging percentage (sixth, .474) and runs scored (15th, 290).

However, it was Georgia (16-26), which ranks third from the bottom in the 14-team SEC in runs, that brought out the big bats.

The Bulldogs a combined seven runs in the second and third innings to build a comfortable lead they would never relinquish, thanks to six different pitchers who shut down the Jackets on just five hits and combined to strike out 13 hitters.

"That's what we've been searching for -- a boost of confidence, mainly offensively," Georgia coach Dave Perno said. "Hopefully, we got it (Tuesday) night."

Much of the damage was done by the No. 8 and 9 hitters, Justin Bryan, who entered the game hitting just .085, and Nelson Ward.

Bryan, who was 3-for-4, with four RBIs on the night, had an RBI single in the Bulldogs' two-run second inning and drove in two more runs with another single during a five-run outburst in the third in which Georgia sent nine men to the plate off Tech starter Jonathan King (3-3) and Buford grad Josh Heddinger.

Ward, meanwhile had a sacrifice fly in each inning as the Bulldogs built its lead to a whopping 7-0.

"It's contagious," Perno said. "Guys started just feeling it. We haven't had this boost of confidence in maybe six weeks."

That was plenty of support for Georgia's pitching staff, starting with Grayson grad Bryan Benzor (3-2), who was credited with the win after giving up just two hits and striking out four in three shutout innings.

"This gives us a lot of confidence," said Benzor. "(Tech is) a great team. Just because (Tuesday) night we played pretty well against them doesn't show the whole story of how good they are. The fact we were able to go and pitch like this against them shows how far we've come as a whole pitching staff."

Georgia continued to pour it on with another big inning in the top of the sixth off Heddinger and three other Tech pitchers, including Wesleyan grad Devin Stanton.

The Bulldogs once again sent nine men to the plate, with four coming around to score -- including one on an RBI single from Peachtree Ridge grad Jared Walsh -- to extend the lead to 11-0.

If that rally did not punctuate a night in which the Bulldogs could do nothing wrong and the Jackets could do nothing right, then the final out of the bottom of the inning did.

Curt Powell went sliding into the screen and railing of the Tech dugout on the third base side to snag A.J. Murray's foul pop to send many of the Jacket partisans in the crowd toward the exits.

"You've got to give (Georgia) credit," said Tech coach Danny Hall, whose team has now dropped four straight after being swept at home last weekend by N.C. State. "They swung the bats, scored the runs, their pitchers shut us out. But we're not playing Georgia Tech baseball. We're not doing things we need to do, whether it's on the mound, at the plate or in the field, to play good, sound baseball. We've got to start doing that or there will be more games like this."

And it only went from bad to worse for the Jackets, even after they brought on sixth and seventh pitchers of the night -- Jared Jillson and Buford grad Sam Clay.

Georgia sent 12 men to the plate in the seventh and tacked on five more runs, ballooning the lead to 16-0.

Hunter Cole had the biggest night at the plate for the Bulldogs by going 4-for-5 with a double and two RBIs, while Powell also finished the night 4-for-5 with two RBIs, two walks and a stolen base, Walsh was 2-for-4 with an RBI and Daniel Nichols added two hits and two RBIs.

About the only bright spot for Tech was Kyle Wren, who was 2-for-4.