By JOHN ASHLEY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 24, 2002
ST. PETERSBURG -- The Atlantic Coast Conference baseball tournament might be over for Kyle Schmidt, but not for Georgia Tech.
The freshman from Palm Harbor took the mound Thursday in an elimination game against Duke and kept his team in the title hunt with eight shutout innings to lead the fifth-seeded Yellow Jackets to a 6-1 victory at Florida Power Park. Schmidt threw 123 pitches, allowed six hits, struck out nine and walked one.
Except for a possible relief appearance if his team advances to weekend play, Schmidt will not pitch again in the tournament, coach Danny Hall said.
Georgia Tech (45-13), ranked in the Top 10 nationally in two polls, faces the loser of Thursday's game between North Carolina and Wake Forest at 3:30 today.
"It was awesome," said Schmidt, who missed his senior season at Dunedin after breaking his nonpitching arm in a car crash in February 2001. "I was glad to see that a lot of people came out for me and saw me pitch."
But more important than keeping the ninth-seeded Blue Devils off the scoreboard, Schmidt (5-2) helped his team recover from perhaps its worst game of the season in Wednesday's 10-0 loss to Clemson. In that game, the Yellow Jackets got seven hits and committed three errors.
"After the way we played (Wednesday), it was good to come out and see a lot of fire in us," Schmidt said. "We came out ready to play in the first inning."
Matt Murton's three-run home run in the first off Blue Devils starter Zach Schreiber (2-4) helped stake the Yellow Jackets to a 4-0 lead. Those runs took the pressure off of Schmidt, who did not allow a runner past second base between the second and seventh innings.
"(Schmidt) pitched great," Hall said. "He didn't really give them much of a chance to get anything going and I thought we played good defensively behind him.
"And I was worried about him a little bit -- being a freshman, it's his hometown -- but he handled it great and pitched good."
Murton went 2-for-4 with three RBIs and scored two runs to pace the Yellow Jackets. Wes Rynders went 2-for-3 and scored Georgia Tech's fifth run in the fourth on a sacrifice fly by Eric Patterson.
Murton scored Tech's final run in the fifth on a two-out single to leftfield by Rynders. The Blue Devils (24-34) ended the shutout in the ninth against reliever Philip Perry.
"We knew that if we didn't win today we were going home," Hall said. "Now I think we're right back in the mix of it. (Schmidt) did his job. We wanted him to win a game for us and he did it."
N.C. STATE 6, VIRGINIA 5 (10): For the second time in less than a day, Virginia rallied from a large early deficit, only to lose a one-run game on a late rally.
On Wednesday, the Cavaliers trailed North Carolina 8-0, rallied for a 10-8 lead but lost 11-10. On Thursday, they ended their season with the same frustrating result. N.C. State took a 5-0 lead but the Cavaliers tied it with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
Brian Wright's homer in the 10th gave the Wolfpack (33-25) the victory before 802, advancing it in the losers' bracket to today's noon game against Clemson.
N.C. State's Ryan Combs (1-1) blew a save when he gave up a two-out double to Robert Word, who scored on Rob Newton's single. With runners at second and third, Combs fielded Chris Sweet's bunt and quickly threw to catcher Colt Morton to end the inning with an out at home.
After Wright's home run gave the Wolfpack its first run since the first inning, when he hit a two-run shot, Combs (1-1) closed out the Cavaliers, getting Dan Street on a called third strike with runners at first and second base. Street had keyed the Cavaliers' rally with a two-run home run in the fifth.
"Just an outstanding college baseball game," said Virginia coach Dennis Womack, whose team stranded 13 and outhit the Wolfpack 15-7.
"Their pitcher made the defensive play of the day -- for that, you take your hat off to him."
-- Times staff writer Greg Auman contributed to this report.