May 25, 2003


ACC Tournament Notes
'GC' has been good to GT

By Sean Ryan Co-Founder

SALEM, Va. – After Georgia Tech topped North Carolina State for its third win of the day and the ACC Tournament title, it wouldn’t have been too much of a shock to see the Yellow Jackets celebrating at Golden Corral.

Before hammering Duke 23-4, the Tech players, coaches and traveling party feasted at the Golden Corral near Roanoke’s Valley View Mall. Before suiting up for what ended up being a three-game day, the Yellow Jackets decided to fuel up at…you guessed it, Golden Corral.

"Got to stay with what works," said Tech’s Brian Burks, the winning pitcher against top-ranked Florida State. "GC has been working – that’s what we call it, GC. I’ve been here three years, and that’s Coach Hall’s favorite."

Yet, the Golden Corral isn’t always the eatery of choice for some of the Yellow Jackets.

"It gets a little old after a while," right fielder Jeremy Slayden said, laughing. "But the breakfast it OK, the breakfast is all right."

Burks said, "Oh, man, that’s for sure, I agree with that," when told that other players wouldn’t mind going someplace else. He quickly reiterated, "But you gotta stick with what works."

Hall stuck to his guns, and it’s likely the Yellow Jackets will be hitting the Golden Corral again soon.

"GC’s golden all the time," Hall said proudly. "That’s why they call it the Golden Corral."
Can anyone say endorsement?


Burks was named the tourney’s most valuable player for posting a save in the Yellow Jackets’ opening win over Wake Forest and for helping them get past Florida State with a win and 5.2 innings of relief.

"I didn’t think I threw enough innings," Burks said when asked about the honor.

Teammates Clifton Remole (first), Eric Patterson (second), Micah Owings (third) and Slayden (outfield) also were named to the all-tourney team. Owings was an interesting choice when he started four games at third in the tourney after hardly playing there all season. He made a pair of super diving plays to his left on Sunday.

Rounding out the all-tourney team were N.C. State’s Chad Orvella (shortstop) and Nate Cretarolo (pitcher), Florida State’s Tony Richie (catcher) and Blake Balkcom (outfield), North Carolina’s Sean Farrell (outfield) and Virginia’s Joe Koshansky (utility/DH).


Burks worked 5.2 innings with two hits, three earned runs and three strikeouts to pick up the win against the Seminoles.

"Before the game, Coach Mo [pitching coach Bobby Moranda] came up to me and said: We’re going to use you early if we need you. So I was ready to come out early on in the game."

He replaced starter Andrew Kown, who allowed three earned runs.


Senior Jeff Watchko followed Burks’ relief effort with a nice one of his own in the championship game win.

Watchko worked 4.2 innings, allowing six hits and two earned runs in grabbing the win for the Yellow Jackets.

"I wanted to take him out honestly after the ninth inning," Hall said. "He said he didn’t want to come out of the game…I’m glad he stayed in. It’s just a fitting end for a senior to win the championship game."


Wolfpack coach Elliott Avent praised Georgia Tech for its magical day, ultimately saying the Jackets are a team that could end up in Omaha.

But you got the impression he thought the game should have gone to the 11th inning.
"You saw it, it was a great game," Avent said. "I think everyone saw it. It ended kind of poorly, but it was a great game."

When pressed what he meant by poorly, Avent said: "I don’t think I’m allowed to comment on officiating, officiating’s call, but ya’ll saw it."

Avent came out to argue when catcher Colt Morton started a 2-6-3 double play on Jake Hall’s bunt attempt. He said he was told by home plate umpire Al Davis that Hall bunted the ball twice. It appeared the ball could have been fair, as Hall bolted to first right away and Morton stormed out of the chute. Davis called the play dead.

Avent also might have been wishing for another strike or two, as was the Wolfpack faithful, which hooted and hollered several times in the bottom of the 10th. Tech’s Brandon Boggs and Eric Patterson each took close pitches with two strikes before the Jackets won the game.


N.C. State shortstop Chad Orvella turned a ton of heads over the weekend.

Not only did the 5-10, 190-pounder make every routine play and several highlight-at-11 plays, but he also had a fantastic tourney at the plate. He went 9 for 17 with seven runs and three RBI. His homer in the 11th inning beat North Carolina, and he was on base four times against FSU.

Against Tech in the championship game, he limited the Jackets to three hits and one earned run in 3.1 innings as the State bullpen was dry.

"I’ve said all year that he’s our MVP," Avent said. "And I think he proved it this weekend."


North Carolina State played most of its last two games without third baseman Jeremy Dutton. Dutton suffered a slight pull in his hamstring running the bases against North Carolina on Saturday. He came on to pinch-hit in the top of the eight with two out and two on against the Yellow Jackets. He struck out against Watchko.


Georgia Tech catcher/DH Mike Nickeas had a feeling before Sunday’s showdown with Florida State for the right to play North Carolina State in the ACC Tournament final.

"I had a feeling; you know, just one of those baseball things," Nickeas said.

"Before the game, it was going to be a big one. I might have a huge part to play in it."

Stephen Drew’s error at short gave Nickeas a shot.

"I was just like: I’m going to get an opportunity to win this game," Nickeas said.

He delivered a two-run single off the chalk of the left-field line to put Tech up 8-7.


FSU’s win against North Carolina State on Saturday night gave it 50 wins for the season. Incredibly, the Seminoles have reached 50 wins 21 times in Mike Martin’s 24 seasons.


Meanwhile, Clemson went 0-2 in the tourney and is stuck on 38 wins. The Tigers have won at least 40 games in each of Jack Leggett’s nine seasons.


Tar Heels coach Mike Fox was ejected by home plate umpire A.J. Lostaglio in the bottom of the sixth inning.

Fox appeared to be fuming when the Tar Heels thought that Brandon Boggs missed second base on his big two-run triple. UNC, which felt Jack Cox missed an earlier call at first on a bang-bang play at first when Greg Mangum made a diving stab at second, appealed to second-base umpire Al Davis to no avail.

After a walk to Eric Patterson, Fox was tossed.

"Passion for the game," Fox said afterward.

Boggs said teammates told him it looked like he might have missed the bag, which could have made a huge inning smaller. Boggs wasn’t sure.

"It could have gone both ways," he said.


Martin seemed proud to announce that his Seminoles would be traveling home in style.
After taking a bus from Durham, N.C., where FSU flew for its final ACC series against Duke, the Seminoles were to ride home to Tallahassee, Fla., in a sparkling new sleeper bus.

Martin smiled as he talked about the TVs, VCRs and other amenities his players would be able to enjoy for the 12-to-14-hour trip home.

The players seemed to be excited, too.

"I was dreading going home on the bus," second baseman Bryan Zech said on the elevator going down to the field before FSU’s game against Georgia Tech. "Now I can’t wait."


Three ACC teams were named as regional sites for the NCAA tourney.

Florida State and Georgia Tech are repeat sites, and North Carolina State will be hosting for the first time. The Wolfpack will be playing in Wilson, N.C., which has been a site before for East Carolina.


The final game between the Yellow Jackets and Wolfpack was the 16th game in a rain-condensed four days of the ACC Tournament (not including the play-in game). Needless to say, the ACC staff and reporters and broadcasters covering the event were a little weary after all that baseball.

Associated Press reporter Hank Kurz, who wrote leads and write-throughs - essentially straight-forward news stories and the features about the games - on all the games, lightened the mood a little midway through the final game.

"If North Carolina State wins, who do they play next?" Kurz joked.