THE FLATS -- Sophomore A.J. Murray's first career home run was a grand slam, and it highlighted No. 20 Georgia Tech's 13-1 victory over Rutgers Friday at Russ Chandler Stadium in the opener of a three-game series on the Flats. Senior Buck Farmer fanned nine in the winning effort.
Junior Zane Evans homered for the fifth time in three games this week as the Yellow Jackets improved to 9-1. Tech has scored double figures in four-consecutive games and has outscored its opponents 48-14 in the four games since suffering its only loss.
Friday night's game in chilly weather was a pitchers' duel early as Farmer matched up with Rutgers (2-5) lefty Rob Smorol. Both pitchers went in order through the first two innings and Smorol retired the first nine Jackets he faced before a damaging fourth inning.
An error got the inning started, followed by back-to-back singles to Sam Dove and Brandon Thomas. With the bases loaded, Daniel Palka drew a walk to open the scoring. Two pitches later, Murray dealt the big blow, tomahawking an 0-1 offering from Smorol over the fence in left for his first career blast.
It was Tech's first grand slam since former Jacket Matt Skole's at Georgia on March 22, 2011, during an 18-4 win over the Bulldogs.
Those five fourth-inning runs would be all Farmer needed as the senior scattered seven hits over six innings and improved to 2-0. Although being tagged his first run of the season (an unearned tally in the fifth) and allowing his first walk in 2013, Farmer fanned nine and improved to 2-0. In 21 innings this season, the righty has fanned 30 against one walk and has yet to allow an earned run.
Three Yellow Jacket relievers - Jared Jillson, DeAndre Smelter and Joe Wiseman - limited the visitors to just one hit over the final three scoreless innings.
Tech expanded the lead to 9-1 in the fifth, and pushed four more across in the seventh thanks to Evans' two-run home and consecutive RBI doubles from Mott Hyde and Mitch Earnest.
Thomas, Murray and Matt Gonzalez each had two of Tech's 11 hits and Murray scored three times. Palka snapped his nine-game hitting streak, yet still drove in a pair of runs. Palka, Thomas and Murray have reached base in all 10 games this season.
Smorol was hung the loss (1-1), allowing eight runs (six earned) on five hits in 4.1 innings. Steve Zavala had two hits and scored Rutgers run on an error in the fifth inning.
The series continues Saturday at 4 p.m. at Russ Chandler Stadium.