Tourney struggles end strong baseball season

Photo by John Nakano

The Jackets baseball team capped off what initially seemed to be a promising season with a very disappointing postseason run. Going into the ACC tournament the team was ranked  25th in the nation and put into a play-in game against the Boston College Eagles with the winner moving on to participate in pool play.

The Jackets won that game 6-0 off of the back of both solid hitting and pitching; however, as they advanced to pool play, the performance on both sides was lacking. They could afford few missteps against elite competition.

The Jackets’ pool consisted of two of the country’s top five teams: No. 2 Miami and No. 4 Florida State, not to mention No. 13 North Carolina State. During the season, Tech had a poor 2-7 record against these teams, only picking up wins against NC State and Miami.

The first matchup, the Jackets against the Miami Hurricanes, resulted in a disappointing 4-0 loss for Tech, with three runs coming in the first inning.

The following day, Tech faced a team that would go on to the conference finals: Florida State.  Another poor start sealed the Jackets’ fate in a 6-1 loss, and allowing four runs in the first three innings saddled the team with an insurmountable deficit.

Finally, the team faced off against the opponent they were closest to in the rankings, NC State. While both teams knew that the ACC title was out of reach, there was still the hope that a good performance could result in better seeding in the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

The Jackets again started poorly, giving up three runs in the second inning, but they rallied back with five tallies in an explosive fourth.

With third-year Matthew Gorst dealing on the mound, it seemed that Tech had all but locked up the game heading into the ninth inning.  With two outs and two runners on base in the last inning, Gorst forced Shane Shepherd into hitting a routine pop fly to center field; however, third-year Ryan Peurifoy was unable to come down with the catch and both runners scored.  Tech would not recover.

A common theme throughout the year for the Jackets was solid hitting with pitching that was good enough to pass; however, the hitting for Tech was extremely lackluster in all three pool play games. Runs were only scored in two out of 30 innings played.

The Jackets were given the second seed in the Gainesville regional, being paired with No. 1 overall Florida, the third-seeded University of Connecticut, and fourth seed Bethune-Cookman.  A rigorous draw for the team meant that they would have to put up extremely stellar performances across multiple games in hopes of advancing to a super-regional.

Two wins and two losses in the regional, including a suffocating 10-1 loss to Florida, was enough to eliminate the Jackets from regional competition.

With an unfortunate end to a season that started off so well, the Jackets continued to falter in key games. In the Danny Hall era, the Jackets are 55-45 in the postseason and have reached the super-regionals five times with no appearances since 2006.

As next season rolls around, it will be curious to see the changes Coach Hall makes, to the lineup and playing style alike. As the game trends more and more towards a pitcher-centric style it seems that the Yellow Jackets’ intent focus on offense is hurting their chances to compete for a College World Series. The talent is present in Atlanta; forming it into a title contender is the next step.