It’s the situation every hitter dreams of — bottom of the ninth, bases loaded, two outs.
Victor Roache, who hit a grand slam in Sunday’s 18-0 win against George Washington, found himself in that very situation Tuesday against No. 19 Georgia Tech at J.I. Clements Stadium.
The at-bat wasn’t as loud, but it got the job done.
Roache walked on a full count to drive in Jesse Piccolo as the Eagles knocked off the Yellow Jackets 6-5 in front of a stadium-record 3,088 fans.
Roache was the third-straight batter walked by Tech reliever Kevin Jacob, who took the loss.
“He was having problems finding the strike zone, so you just go in there and make him throw you a strike,” Roache said about Jacob. “That’s pretty much what I did. I heard the crowd in the background and they were very, very loud – it was amazing tonight – and coach kept giving me the take sign until he got one in there.”
Roache worked a full count, and barely stayed alive by fouling off a potential ball four.
“I was surprised I got a piece of it,” Roache said.
When ball four finally came — high and outside — the Georgia Southern dugout emptied and a dog pile surrounded Roache near home plate. Of course, the game wasn’t over until he touched first base.
“I was jumping around,” Roache said, “and there were two guys with a serious face, and they were just pushing me saying, ‘Go to first! Go to first!’ I was like, ‘Oh, I better get down there.’ After I did that, it was a sigh of relief.”
The walkoff situation was set up when freshman second baseman Ben Morgan (2-for-4) lined a 3-2 pitch into left field for a single to open the inning with the Eagles (3-1) trailing 5-4.
Piccolo, who was batting in place of Arthur Owens, grounded a potential double-play ball to Jackets shortstop Mott Hyde. Hyde booted the routine grounder into center, which allowed Morgan to take third, and Piccolo took second while the ball was being recovered.
Shawn Payne grounded out and Michael Burruss (2-for-4, FC) struck out, sending shortstop Eric Phillips to the plate.
Tech (2-2) elected to intentionally walk Phillips to get to switch-hitting cleanup hitter Steve Cochrane. Cochrane took four-straight balls with the bases loaded — unintentionally — to drive in Morgan and tie the game at 5-5 sending Roache to the plate and the crowd to its feet.
“The crowd was unbelievable, and they were in it the whole time,” said Andy Moye, who started the game at third base and also pitched 2.2 innings, allowing two hits and a run. “It’s awesome to play in front of a crowd like this. It doesn’t get any better than that, that’s for sure.”
Moye’s sacrifice fly in the first inning opened the scoring by sending Cochrane across the plate, and Morgan drive in Roache later in the inning with a single.
Georgia Tech tied it at two in the second, and it went back-and-fourth until the ninth when Yellow Jackets centerfielder Kyle Wren doubled to drive in Brandon Thomas in the top of the ninth for Georgia Tech’s last lead of the game.
Jarret Leverett started the game for the Eagles, pitching three innings, striking out three and allowing two runs on four Tech hits.
Georgia Tech starter Luke Bard and reliever Dusty Isaacs combined for eight innings of work and allowed four runs on a combined seven GSU hits.
The Statesboro portion of the four-game season series concludes today at 4 p.m.
“We know they’re going to come back ready to play and hope to get some revenge on us,” Roache said. “Coach said we can celebrate tonight, but come [Wednesday] we need to be ready to do it again.”
The teams will play two more games beginning March 15 in Atlanta.
Matt Yogus can be reached at (912) 489-9408.