The Jackets’ baseball team was looking to continue their early season success with a nonconference series against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights. The Jackets responded with a lopsided affair against Rutgers, starting Friday, March 2, and continuing through the three-game weekend series. Tech, currently ranked No. 10 in the nation, looks as confident as ever after comfortably sweeping the Scarlet Knights.
Game One of this three-game set proved to be the biggest victory of the weekend, as the Jackets outhit their opponents 23-7 en route to a 16-2 victory. This game was highlighted by the one-two punch of sophomore center-fielder Kyle Wren and junior left -fielder Brandon Thomas who went a combined nine for 10, scoring six runs. Along with a flawless five for five day at the plate, Thomas drove in two runs and stole a base.
Along with the consistent firepower supplied on the offensive end of the ball, was the Jackets also posted one of their better pitching performances of the young season. Junior Buck Farmer threw 81 pitches over seven innings, giving up two runs on six hits and throwing nine strikeouts. The game was then put in the hands of Sophomore Alex Cruz, who threw two innings of one-hit ball striking out four on the way to an easy Tech victory.
The second game yielded a closer but still one-sided outcome. Freshman catcher Connor Lynch had big day driving on four of Tech’s nine runs, three of which came off of a bases loaded double.
Senior first baseman Jake Davies also had a strong performance, going two for three including a three-run hit down the right field line. Sophomore pitcher Matt Grimes continued his strong season on the pitching front, striking out six batters, and leading the Jackets to a 9-4 win.
The series finale was the tensest of the weekend matchups, though the result leaned decidedly in Tech’s favor. The game was close in the early goings, but sophomore catcher Zane Evan’s two-run triple gave the Jackets a lead they would never relinquish. Sophomore Daniel Palka drove in and scored a run on two hits, and in the process extended his hitting streak to a career-high eleven games.
The Jackets remained solid through the game as sophomore Dusty Isaacs pitched six innings, allowing two runs on three hits and striking out seven batters. He then turned the ball over to the bullpen, who closed the game as Tech took the game 6-3 and swept the series.
The Jackets then returned to action, facing the Georgia State Panthers on Wednesday, March 7, for a midweek nonconference matchup. The Jackets struggled at the plate until late in the game, ultimately dropping the contest 5-4.
The Jackets dropped their second straight matchup to the Panthers after leading 1-0, but allowing five runs in the fourth and fifth inning combined.
The game started off slowly, with both teams scoreless through the first three innings until Wren drew a walk with the bases loaded at the top of the fourth. The Jackets could not capitalize on the loaded bases, earning their third out, before allowing the Panthers to take the lead with two runs of their own at the bottom of the fourth.
The Panthers then extended their lead further, posting three more runs off of three hits and four Tech errors at the bottom of the fifth inning to take a 5-1 lead.
The Jackets would respond in the seventh inning when Palka hit a solo home run to extend his hitting streak to 12 games. Evans Davies and Dove then responded, posting three consecutive hits to pull the Jackets within two runs. A last-minute run was scored at the top of the ninth, but the rally was cut short by the Panthers, ending the game at 5-4.
The Jackets will look to bounce back this weekend, opening up their conference schedule with a series against N.C. State.