Tech falls in NCAA regional

The baseball team’s season came to an end last week, as the Jackets fell in the championship game of the NCAA Atlanta Regional and failed to move on to the Super Regional round. The Jackets, ranked No. 13 in the nation heading into the tournament, finished the year 38-19-1 with an 18-12-1 mark against ACC foes.

Tech was one of 16 teams that earned the right to host an NCAA Regional from May 29-June 1. The Jackets were the No. 1 seed in the four-team field that included No. 2 Elon, No. 3 Southern Mississippi and No. 4 Georgia State, and they were favored to win the double-elimination tournament.

However, the opening game showed that the other teams would not fall easily. Southern Miss and Elon battled in a shootout that lasted well over three hours; the teams combined for 32 runs, 34 hits and 11 homers as Southern Miss came out on top 17-15. In Friday’s night game, though, Tech looked strong as well in dispatching Georgia State 9-3. Sophomore pitcher Deck McGuire went seven strong innings, and freshman third baseman Matt Skole hit a fifth-inning grand slam to power the offense.

After Elon eliminated Georgia State with a 4-3 win on Saturday afternoon, Tech looked to secure a spot in the championship game by beating Southern Miss. The Jackets had problems defensively and committed five errors and the Golden Eagles capitalized on each one. A four-run ninth inning was not enough to bring Tech back, and the Jackets fell 10-7.

The loss meant that Tech would have to play two elimination games on Sunday to stay alive. The first came against Elon in a battle between two of the nation’s most prolific offenses, and Tech knocked out the Phoenix with an 8-4 victory. The Jackets overcame a rough start by sophomore Zach Von Tersch, who walked seven batters in three innings pitched, and got five innings of shutout relief by freshman Mark Pope while using a seven-run second inning to come out on top. In the night game, the Jackets looked strong on all fronts as they took down Southern Miss 10-3 to set up a Monday night rematch for the right to move on to the Super Regional round.

Senior right fielder Luke Murton hit his 20th homerun of the season, and eight players had a hit and an RBI; meanwhile, junior starter Andrew Robinson and sophomore reliever Thomas Nichols combined to hold the Golden Eagles’ offense in check.

McGuire took the mound for Monday’s game just two days after throwing 121 pitches against Georgia State, and the Golden Eagles hit him hard in the second. Led by freshman shortstop B.A. Vollmuth, who hit two home runs in the inning, Southern Miss took advantage of a two-out Skole error and put up nine runs in the frame.

Tech, down 11-3 after five innings, managed to close the gap to 11-8 entering the ninth, but they could not complete the comeback, as Southern Miss reliever Collin Cargill held them hitless in the final frame to clinch the Golden Eagles’ first trip to an NCAA Super Regional.

It was Tech’s second consecutive NCAA regional, losing in the championship game both times. They hosted a regional for the first time since 2006.