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Yellow Jackets looking to get through Atlanta regional
Georgia Tech playing host to Austin Peay, Southern Mississippi and Mississippi State
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ATLANTA - Matt Skole knows all about Georgia Tech's recent struggles in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Having started nearly every game at third base the last three years, Skole believes the 2011 Yellow Jackets will succeed by taking an aggressive approach to advance to the College World Series.

To get there, Georgia Tech must avoid a collapse at home and win the Atlanta Regional. The Yellow Jackets lost the title game to Alabama last year at Russ Chandler Stadium and the 2009 title game to Southern Mississippi.

Skole said the Yellow Jackets "want to get in and get out" of the double-elimination field with three straight victories.

"We have all intentions of winning three games in a row," Skole said. "We've just got to play small-ball offensively, but pitching and defense have been big keys to our success this year."

Top-seeded Georgia Tech (40-19) faces Austin Peay (33-22) at 7 p.m. Friday. In the 3 p.m. game, No. 2 seed Southern Miss (39-17) plays third-seeded Mississippi State (34-23).

The Jackets list right-hander Mark Pope (11-4) as their first-round starter opposite Austin Peay left-hander Jeremy Dobbs (9-2).

Pope is the only player in the Atlanta field named as one of 30 national semifinalists for the Golden Spikes Award, which USA Baseball gives each year to the nation's top-voted amateur.

Freshman center fielder Kyle Wren, the son of Braves general manager Frank Wren, leads the Atlantic Coast Conference with 88 hits. He ranks third in batting average (.352) and in runs scored (55).

Pope, Jed Bradley and Buck Farmer are a combined 27-10 this year with a 2.72 ERA.

"I think all three guys have pitched great all year in that order," Georgia Tech coach Danny Hall said. "I see no reason to change anything. The way we have the rotation set up is the best way we see to win the regional."

Austin Peay won the Ohio Valley Conference regular season and conference tournament.

Dobbs was named OVC pitcher of the year for the Governors, who have won three straight and seven of eight. First baseman John Hogan has hit six homers in his last 10 games.

Southern Miss, which advanced to the ‘09 College World Series, has dropped two straight and six of eight. The Golden Eagles finished second to Rice in Conference USA's regular season.

Senior Todd McInnis (8-2, 2.61 ERA) was Conference USA pitcher of the year the last two years.

Mississippi State finished second to Arkansas in the Southeastern Conference Western Division.

Senior third baseman Jarrod Parks leads the SEC with a .385 batting average for the Bulldogs, who have dropped three straight and four of five but earned their NCAA with an eight-game winning streak in early May.

Hall wants Yellow Jacket fans to believe the team's recent postseason problems won't repeat.

"Well, the (Atlanta) Thrashers aren't here and last I checked the Hawks weren't in the NBA finals," Hall said. "Also, I'm pretty sure the Braves are of town this weekend, so I'm hoping they'll come out and rally around the Jackets."


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