Photo by Austin Foote

The baseball team conducted its annual three-game White and Gold intra-squad series over the past weekend.

The defending ACC champs lost several key players on the pitching staff but returned most of all their other starters from last season.

Tech’s starting pitcher rotation is unknown, and the bullpen will be a major question mark as the team will be replacing its top relief pitcher, Sam Clay, and its closer, Dusty Iassacs.

The nine potential positional starters for this upcoming season were split evenly among the two rosters: the White team included catcher Arden Pabst, second baseman Thomas Smith, shortstop Connor Justus, third baseman Matt Gonzalez, and outfielder Ryan Peurifoy; and the Gold team had catcher A.J. Murray, shortstop Brandon Gold, and outfielders Grant Wruble and Daniel Spingola. Each game was only played to seven innings, and Team Gold won two of them to win the series.

Game 1 was pretty competitive as the teams exchanged leads three times. Pitchers Jonathan King and Ben Parr made the starts for teams White and Gold, respectively. Each pitcher went four innings and gave up three earned runs, with King also striking out six batters.

The teams exchanged blows in the second inning, and heading into the third, Team Gold led Team White 3-2. Team White responded in the fourth with two more runs to take the lead, but Team Gold tied it up again in the bottom of the fifth.

Team White jumped ahead again, 6-4, in the sixth off of a single by Gonzalez, but Team Gold rallied again with three more runs in the bottom of the inning to take the lead for good.

Freshman Trevor Craport played first base competently for Team White, going two for three with a home run and three RBIs, while also scoring twice himself. Another freshman, third baseman Blake Jackson, also drove in three runs, including the clincher for Team Gold in the winning effort.

Game 2 ended in a 9-9 tie on Sunday. Zac Ryan and Matthew Gorst were the starting pitchers, and each gave up two runs. The score was only 2-0 heading into the fifth inning thanks to solid pitching and a two-run homer for Thomas Smith and Team White.

Team Gold took a 5-2 lead in the top of the sixth via two home runs by freshmen Daniel Gooden and Wade Bailey, but Team White responded with six runs in the bottom of the inning to go back on top. Trailing 8-5 in the last inning, Team Gold’s Spingola blasted a grand slam to recapture the lead, but an RBI single by Keenan Innis in the next frame tied the score. Since it was an exhibition game, the teams did not plan to settle the score in extra innings, and the game ended tied.

Three players for Team Gold, Spingola, Bailey, and freshman Kel Johnson, racked up three hits on the day, with Spingola’s grand slam being the game’s highlight.

Game 3 was a 4-0 victory for Team Gold, all off of the bat of Johnson. He ripped a three-run homer in the third inning over the center field wall and popped a solo shot over right field in the sixth. He ended the series going 7 for 10 with five RBIs, both stats being the best of any player.

Ben Schniederjans pitched five shutout innings for Team Gold, only allowing four hits and one walk.

The end of the series marked the conclusion of fall practice as well as the last time fans could see their team in action until the season begins on February 13. This leaves the coaching staff plenty of time to select the team’s starting nine on opening day.

They will have to evaluate the three standout freshmen from the series­—Bailey, Jackson, and Johnson—and determine whether or not they are worthy of a starting role when the season begins.

Head coach Danny Hall feels that Johnson could end up playing either first base or in the outfield depending on some other players and that Bailey could see a lot of time at second. Jackson will be competing with two veterans, Gold and Gonzalez, for playing time at third.