Baseball struggling to find stride in ACC play

Sophomore infielder Tim Borden II adjusts his helmet during a recent game. Borden has been a part of a Jacket offense that has continued to put up runs even as the team’s record has slipped. // Photo by Caitlin Aycock Student Publications

The Institute’s No. 22 ranked baseball team was back in action this past weekend with an ACC series on the road against the No. 3 ranked Virginia Cavaliers.

In game one of the series, the Jackets jumped into the lead quickly in the top of the first inning when senior outfielder Colin Hall poked a single in front of the center fielder and earned an RBI to give the Jackets a one run lead. A Cavalier error helped the Jackets secure another run. Virginia responded by scoring a run of their own, but the Jackets kept their foot on the gas. Sophomore infielder Tres Gonzalez and sophomore catcher Kevin Parada both drove in runs in the second inning to extend the Tech lead. Virginia again scored a run making the score 4–2 Jackets. 

Virginia scored another run in the third, but the Jackets responded in the fourth when Parada drilled a two-run home run, putting the Jackets ahead 6–3. From here, Jacket pitchers took over, with sophomore Zach Maxwell tossing four scoreless innings. After allowing a single run in the fifth inning, Tech held the Cavaliers scoreless and were able to complete the upset in game one of the series, 6–4. 

Game two saw the Jackets get out to a hot start again, but the pitching was not able to slow the Cavaliers down. The Jackets scored two runs in the first inning but gave up four runs in the second. Sophomore infielder Andrew Jenkins hit a solo home run to make the game 4-3 in the top of the third but the Cavaliers responded in the bottom of the inning. Jenkins would hit another home run to bring the Jackets within striking distance in the eighth inning but the bats of Virginia would be too much to handle. The Jackets gave up seven runs in the sixth inning and their four run comeback in the eighth and ninth innings would only be enough to cut the deficit in half. The final score found Virginia on top 13–9.

With the series tied 1–1 the Jackets again started off the rubber match strong. Jenkins hit another home run and Tech scored three runs in the first inning. Virginia then tied the game in the second inning by scoring three runs of their own. Tech regained the lead after a sacrifice fly by sophomore infielder Drew Compton but the wheels began to fall off afterward. Virginia responded with 10 runs in the fourth inning and three more in the fifth inning. The Jackets scored some at the end of the game but the damage was done. Their five total runs in innings six through eight were not enough to make a significant divot in the Virginia lead, losing 18-9.

On Tuesday, April 3 the Jackets began a five-game homestand by taking on USC Upstate. Tech dominated early and scored eight runs in the first inning to take an 8–1 lead. The team pitched via committee with nine different Jackets taking the mound in the contest. The pitchers allowed only nine hits and four runs in the blowout game. Tech’s offense remained hot during the matchup, eventually scoring a total of 27 runs. Sophomore outfielder Jack Deleo led the way for the Jackets by going 5 for 6 with a triple and a homerun while scoring four runs and totaling five RBIs for the game. 

The Jackets will be back in action again April 8–10 at home when they take on Florida State in another important ACC matchup. The Jackets are entering a two week stretch where they will not have to play any teams ranked higher than them and will need to capitalize on their opportunities to keep their hopes of high postseason ranking alive.