Baseball hot, softball looking to return to form

Redshirt junior pitcher Andy Archer smiles as he jogs off the field during Tech’s series with NC State. Archer started the second game of the series and struck out five batters while allowing only one run through six innings of work. // Photo by Taylor Gray, Student Publications

There was plenty of excitement and anticipation surrounding the matchup between top-ranked Louisville and Tech as both teams were ranked in the top 15 and entered the weekend series with 6-2 records.

The first of three games began with a less than ideal start for the Jackets as the Cardinals took a 7-0 lead after the top of the second inning. Louisville’s strong surge of runs was sparked by a two-run RBI early in the second inning. The Jackets attempted to mount a rally by scoring six runs of their own. However, the Cardinals also scored an additional six runs. Louisville took the first game with a winning score of 13-6.

The Jackets lead the ACC in multiple offensive statistical categories including batting average, runs scored and total hits. In contrast, they rank near the bottom in multiple fielding and pitching categories. While they were able to demonstrate their strength in their comeback attempt, they were unable to compensate for the team’s weakness.

The second game began in just the fashion Tech hoped for. This time, Tech was the one that held the large lead after two innings. After a six run inning, Tech led 6-1. From there, the Jackets never looked back as they continued their strong hitting day. They were able to put up 18 hits on the day leading to 19 runs in a strong 19-6 win.

Fourth-year junior Luke Waddell, third-year sophomore Justyn-Henry Malloy and second-year freshman Drew Compton led the way for the Jackets as they each had at least 2 RBIs for the day. Tech’s starting pitcher, fifth-year redshirt junior Andy Archer allowed only one earned run through six innings pitched.

The third game began in a different way than the previous two games. It was a 2-2 tie game after two innings. But, after that the Jackets opened up the game, taking a commanding 7-2 lead after the fourth inning. Following the Jackets five run lead, the Jackets brought home another six runs while the Cardinals brought home seven turns. The Jackets ended the series with a 13-9 win.

The Jackets were led by the freshman trio of Drew Compton, Tres Gonzalez and Kevin Parada as they combined to bring home seven runs. Tech demonstrated once again why they are considered a perennial home juggernaut as they beat one of the nation’s best teams in Louisville. Tech now finds themselves as the seventh-ranked team in the nation.

Meanwhile, the softball team has faced a tough stretch of opponents as they entered the weekend on a 10 game losing streak. They travelled to face NC State, a top five ACC team.

The first game started well for the Jackets as they held a 3-0 lead after the top of the first. The Wolfpack responded by scoring four runs in the bottom of the first inning. NC State never lost the lead and won 7-4.

In the second game, Tech fans were on the edge of their seat as Tech held a 7-5 lead entering the bottom of the seventh inning. But NC State was able to score three runs in the bottom of the seventh inning and finish the comeback to win 8-7.

After a crushing loss in the final inning of game two, Tech rebounded with a comeback victory of their own in game three. After falling behind 10-6 entering the seventh inning, they rallied back via a 2-run RBI and then a grand slam by senior Tricia Awald to take a 12-10 lead. Tech did not allow NC State to climb back and were able to snap their losing streak. With the momentum on the Jackets side, they were looking to start a winning streak of their own.

The final game of the series had Tech and NC State trading leads up until the last inning. The Jackets were unable to score in the top of the seventh inning and the score remained tied at 2-2. NC State with two runners on base ended the game on a 3-run walk-off home run.

Although the Jackets didn’t win the series, they showed strong grit and determination as they competed all the way through against one of the ACC’s strongest teams.