GREENSBORO, N.C.—Georgia Tech knew what was at stake in its ACC tournament opener Wednesday against Florida State. After going 12-18 in the league, the Yellow Jackets needed to make a statement in Greensboro to bolster their at-large chances. A game against the nation's top-ranked team would be Tech's best opportunity to do so.
Georgia Tech's veterans carried them to a 5-4 win, as Jake Davies mashed a pair of two-run homers behind Buck Farmer, who went six solid innings.
"I would certainly hope it enhances our cause, let's put it that way," Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall said.
Davies, a senior first baseman, made it sound like the Jackets came out with a chip on their shoulder. A fighting spirit will come in handy this week for a Tech team with its back against the wall.
"When they came to our place, we played them tight Friday," Davies said. "On Saturday we had the lead through six innings, so we felt like this was a game we could win, especially with them throwing a midweek guy—we didn't feel like they took us very seriously. We feel like we were a strong 8 seed—we can score runs."
FSU coach Mike Martin made it clear that the Seminoles weren't taking Georgia Tech lightly, adding that Scott Sitz is his No. 3 starter and was the best-rested option. But Davies had Sitz's number.
The lefthanded-hitting Davies spotted Farmer to an early lead with a two-run homer onto the left-field berm in the first inning. After getting four straight fastballs away to start the at-bat, Davies said he was sitting changeup and got a fastball away, but he was strong enough to muscle it out of the park anyway.
"When he threw it, I hit it and I barreled it. I thought it might slice into the corner but it kept going," Davies said. "I came around first base and tried to slap the first base coach's hand, almost missed the base. He was like, 'All right, keep running.' "
Nearly missing first base was a rookie move, but Davies is a veteran presence in the middle of the lineup. After spending his first two seasons primarily as a pitcher, he hit .347 with five homers as a junior last year, then had a strong summer in the Cape Cod League. His two-homer game Wednesday gave him 11 on the season and increased his ACC-leading RBI total to 62.
He still pitches as well, logging 23 innings over 12 appearances this year, but his primary value is in his powerful bat and mature offensive approach. He has 24 walks and just 20 strikeouts, an impressive ratio for a power hitter.
"He always has good at-bats, doesn't strike out a lot," Hall said. "He has great experience in the middle of the order—he just makes everybody else around him better."
In the fifth, Davies extended Tech's 3-0 lead by taking Sitz deep again, another two-run shot. This time, he launched a high, arching shot over the right-center-field fence.
That insurance came in handy, because the ever-relentless Seminoles rallied in the bottom of the frame. After two walks and a hit batsman loaded the bases with no outs, Davies came through again with the biggest defensive play of the game.
Devon Travis hit a sharp grounder to the right side; Davies ranged to his right, made a sliding stop and flipped to Farmer for the out. FSU still scored three runs in the inning, but it could have been worse.
"That was a big play, no doubt about it," Martin said. "Because we're first and third, two runs in (if the ball gets by Davies). He makes that play, we're one run in, second and third. So you credit him for an outstanding defensive play for his club, no doubt."
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