It would be tremendously difficult to blame a Tech fan for feeling disappointed about the school’s athletic performance thus far. Football crashed and burned a mere year after making a New Year’s Six bowl, and basketball has been up and down. With their torrid 8-0 start, though, the No. 17 Tech baseball team looks to turn the school’s fortunes around.
Only eight games into the season, it is early to come to any definite conclusions regarding the team’s trajectory. Four numbers, however, have stood out.
The ERA of three of Tech’s five starting pitchers: Brandon Gold, Matthew Gorst and Jonathan Hughes, courtesy of ramblinwreck.com. Gorst and Gold were teammates at Johns Creek High School in Alpharetta, Ga., and as juniors, both have shown their stuff early.
Gorst has steadily reduced his ERA since arriving at The Flats, from a generous 7.59 as a freshman to 4.81 last season. If early results hold, that will continue.
Meanwhile, Gold has resumed his overall dominance, second on the team with a .462 batting average while holding opposing hitters to a stingy .222. Gold is the heart and soul of this Jackets team, and if they do damage as the season goes on, he will be a major part of that effort.
Hughes is a freshman who turned down an offer to play with the MLB’s Baltimore Orioles in favor of attending Tech. In 12 innings, he has only allowed 9 hits and has already tallied a pair of wins.
That will bode well not only for the team’s ledger but also for his confidence moving forward. Opposing hitters, beware: Tech’s rotation may have a young lion to supplement a strong group that ranks fourth in the country thus far in earned-run average.
Freshman Brandt Stallings’ slugging percentage so far. Slugging percentage is a popular measure of a hitter’s power, and the 6-foot-4 outfielder has shown plenty of that in the early series.
In a mere twelve at-bats, Stallings has notched five hits, including two home runs. That figure leads the team despite the Kings Ridge Christian graduate getting fewer plate appearances than many of his teammates.
If Tech baseball has a weakness this season, it may be finding a reliable source of power. While it is never safe to lean on a freshman, Stallings could certainly be a part of the solution.
The average margin of victory for the Jackets so far. The closest contest was a Feb. 24 contest against Georgia Southern in which the team entered the final frame of regulation down a run. Matt Gonzalez drove in a run to take the game to extra innings, in which a three-run home run by Brandon Gold provided the win.
Tech’s ability to trounce its opponents with regularity so far is impressive. However, it is also suggestive of the caliber of opponent the team has faced. As the team enters its conference schedule and begins to face fellow College World Series competitors, expect this number to drop.
The fraction of Tech’s runs that have been scored in the 4th and 8th innings. It is difficult to take much away from these outbursts, particularly when the sample size is small. Nevertheless, it demonstrates that the Jackets are a threat to score, even in the doldrums of a game.
In those same innings, opponents have combined to score a single run. This combination of deadly pitching and destructive hitting allows the Jackets to race out to insurmountable leads and allow their crack relief unit to finish off contests.
The Jackets play a three-game series with Western Carolina at Russ Chandler Stadium starting Friday and continuing through Sunday, before beginning its