Atlanta, Ga. - No. 13 Georgia Tech rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth inning on Friday evening to upend upset-minded Western Carolina, 5-4, in walk-off fashion in nonconference baseball action at Russ Chandler Stadium.
Georgia Tech, which remained unbeaten in its first nine games this season, received a one-out, run-scoring double from Connor Justus and a game-winning, RBI single by Kel Johnson with two outs in the final frame to complete the come-from-behind victory.
Five Catamount hitters finished with two-hit games in the series opener. Senior Danny Bermudez belted his team-leading fourth home run of the season as a part of a 2-for-3 outing, while junior Matt Smith matched him at the plate, also driving in a run. Senior Kramer Ferrell and redshirt junior Bryson Bowman both finished 2-for-4 with Ferrell plating a run, with sophomore Brett Pope batting 2-for-5 with a stolen base and a run scored.
Junior RHP B.J. Nobles (0-1) took the loss for the Catamounts, recording a pair of outs in the ninth but surrendering two runs that erased the WCU lead. Senior Colton Davis pitched one inning out of the bullpen, allowing a run on two hits with a strikeout.
Catamount sophomore starter Brendan Nail matched his career-long outing, limiting the Yellow Jackets to a pair of runs while scattering four hits over seven strong innings before being lifted prior to the eighth. The Greensboro, N.C., product countered three walks with four strikeouts on the day.
WCU (3-6) grabbed the early lead on Friday, scoring in the first inning for the third-straight game -- and the fourth time in its last five outings. Garrett Brown was hit by a pitch to lead-off the game before moving to second on an infield bunt single by Brett Pope. Bermudez moved both runners further into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt before Brown scampered home on a wild pitch for the early lead.
The Yellow Jackets evened the game in the home half of the second inning, putting its first two runners into scoring position and eventually plating a run on an infield ground out. Nail recorded a pair of strikeouts to help get WCU out of the frame without any further damage.
In the top of the third, Pope ignited a two-run rally with a single and promptly stole second to move into scoring position. Bermudez drew a walk to put two aboard ahead of Smith who delivered a RBI single into left with Ferrell also singling to center to plate a run and give the visitors a 3-1 advantage.
In the top of the fifth, Bermudez extended WCU's advantage to three at 4-1 with the solo homer over the fence in left field.
Georgia Tech cut the Catamount lead in half in the home half of the sixth inning as Matt Gonzales was plunked with one out, advancing to third on a double by Johnson. Gonzales later came home on a sacrifice fly by Tristin English. The Yellow Jackets went on to load the bases before Nail induced an inning-ending ground ball back to the mound, curtailing the rally and preserving the 4-2 lead through six.
The Yellow Jackets closed the margin to one in the home portion of the eighth as Gonzalez greeted Davis with a lead-off single before eventually scoring on a RBI groundout by English. Georgia Tech completed its steady comeback in the ninth, tallying the game-tying run on a RBI double by Justus. However, Bowman kept the game tied by throwing out Wade Bailey at the plate, preserving the 4-4 tie. Following an intentional walk to bring the force out back into play, Johnson dropped a single into center field to allow the winning run to cross the dish.
Offensively, Johnson finished 4-for-5 with the game-winning RBI and a run scored as the home squad stranded nine runners in the win. The remaining five hits for Georgia Tech were scattered between five different batters.
Yellow Jackets reliever Ben Parr (3-0) was the beneficiary of the victory for Georgia Tech, striking out one in just two thirds of an inning of work. Starter Brandon Gold factored in a no-decision, exiting the game after five innings and allowing four earned runs on eight hits with six strikeouts against a pair of walks.
Game two of the three-game nonconference series is scheduled for a 2:00 pm first pitch on Saturday afternoon. Junior LHP Bryan Sammons (1-0, 4.26 ERA) is scheduled to take the mound for WCU against RHP Keyton Gibson (1-0, 1.50 ERA) for Georgia Tech.