Early goings for baseball: season of streaks

Photo by Casey Gomez

Tech baseball fans have certainly experienced an emotional rollercoaster this season. After an average 1-2 start across the first three games, the Jackets baseball team enjoyed a seven game win streak from Feb. 20 to March 3. Not only did they win seven consecutive games, but they won convincingly — they allowed no runs in three of the seven games and won by at least three runs in six out of seven games. This streak inevitably excited many Tech sports fans, raising the question in many fans’ heads of whether this could be the year for Tech baseball.

However, those high hopes came crashing down when the team immediately followed the impressive win streak with a disappointing slump. From March 4 to March 13, the Jackets baseball team lost five of six games. Since these streaks, the team has achieved an approximately equal number of wins and losses to bring the season total record to 13-11 and their all-important ACC record to 3-6.

After witnessing the highs and lows of the current baseball season, many Tech fans are asking, “What gives?” Was the win streak a fluke, or was the loss streak just an unlucky string of games? But win and loss streaks are more common in college baseball than one might initially think.

A large part of this has to do with the nature of college baseball schedules: typically, teams play in single games throughout the week and 3-game series during the weekend. These series are against the same team for all three consecutive games. These series make way for streaks, because if a matchup between two teams is lopsided in terms of talent, the more talented team has a good chance to come out with back-to-back-to-back wins. In other words, if Tech is in a series with a lower ranked opponent, the strength of schedule drops significantly, unlike in football or basketball, where weak matchups are one-offs.

In looking at Tech’s seven game streak, five of seven wins came from series games against Dartmouth and the University of Illinois-Chicago. On the other hand, four of five losses in the loss streak came from series games as well against Clemson and Virginia Tech. Because of all this, Tech’s win and loss streaks do not necessarily speak to an inconsistency in the team’s performance but rather the nature of college baseball schedules to include consecutive games against low and high ranked teams. The Jackets would likely be performing roughly equally well from one game to another if their hitting, fielding and pitching could be assessed in a vacuum; instead, the wild variance between the qualities of any two given opponents on their schedule have led to erratic results.

Apart from the seemingly streaky nature of the season so far, the team has featured consistent standout performances from some players on both sides of the field. Star hitter Chase Murray currently boasts a .414 batting average and a very impressive 24 runs across the 24 games played so far. Tristin English also has played very well, racking up 34 RBIs on the season — 14 more than the next highest on the team. Finally, Joey Bart has already amassed 8 home runs. Performances from these three batting leaders, along with great play from all teammates, have contributed to the season’s high scoring results so far.

All in all, Tech currently sits at No. 6 in the ACC Coastal rankings after placing No. 4 in the 2017 season. While the Jackets still have much room for improvement, there are still plenty of games left in the season for the team to find a defining win streak once again.