Tech baseball has returned to Mac Nease Field at Russ Chandler Stadium in preparation for the 2023 season. The Jackets played two seven-inning exhibition games against Jacksonville State on Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022. The first game ended with the Jackets and Gamecocks tied at five, but the Jackets pulled out the win in the second game, downing the Gamecocks 5-2.
Redshirt sophomore pitcher Jackson Finley started the first game for the Jackets. He looked sharp for the two innings he pitched, striking out three and only giving up one hit and one walk. Sophomore Logan McGuire was the next pitcher, and he left a few too many pitches in the strike zone. In two innings of work, he struck out four batters but gave up two hits, one earned run and one unearned run in the top of the fourth inning. JSU starter AJ Causey no-hit the Jackets through three innings. Jake Peppers came into the game for the Gamecocks in the fourth and gave up one run. After the fourth inning, Tech was down 2-1.
Freshman pitcher Luke Schmolke took the mound for the next two innings and had a nice outing against the Gamecocks including four strikeouts. Peppers stayed in the game for the Gamecocks and left the game with one out in the sixth after giving up a total of five hits and five earned runs. Four of the runs were scored in the sixth inning, making the score lopsided in favor of the Jackets at 5-2.
Dalton Smith, a junior pitcher for Tech, was tasked with closing the game. Smith gave up one hit, two walks and three runs in the top of the seventh where the Gamecocks tied the game at five. The Jackets did not answer in the bottom of the inning, ending the game in a tie.
The positive news for the Jackets is that their veteran players proved why they were the veterans. Senior infielder Angelo Dispigna tallied two hits and an RBI, while junior infielder John Giesler and junior outfielder Stephen Reid each had one hit and two RBIs. Junior outfielders Drew Compton and Jake DeLeo also recorded hits in the first exhibition game.
The second game lineup looked very different for Tech. Six of the players in the starting lineup were freshmen and the other three were sophomores. The young stars certainly proved why they were on the team with a combined eight hits and three walks.
Sophomore infielder Nicholas Romano, Finley and freshman infielder Carsten Sabathia led the charge with two hits apiece. Romano and Sabathia each earned two RBI on the day. Possibly the most exciting sign for Tech fans was the monster solo home run to center field by Sabathia in his first collegiate at bat. Not only did the young Jackets produce at the plate, but they also dominated on the mound. The score was 4-0 in favor of the Jackets after six innings.
Sophomore pitcher Terry Busse started the game for the Jackets and pitched two innings with five strikeouts, one hit and one walk. Freshman Noah Samol, redshirt sophomore Ben King and sophomores Aeden Finateri, Cody Carwile and Camron Hill each pitched one inning for the Jackets, giving up a combined three hits and recording six strikeouts against the Gamecocks. Hill gave up two earned runs in the seventh, but that was all Jacksonville State could manage. After the top of the seventh the score was 4-2, Tech, but the bottom of the inning was played because it was an exhibition game and the Jackets sent another run across the plate, making the final score 5-2.
Although the two games were only exhibition games, it is a positive sign for Tech to see both the veterans and freshmen producing runs and getting outs. After eight Tech players were drafted in the 2022 MLB draft, there were big holes to fill in the Jackets roster. The 17 freshmen currently on the roster seem like they are adjusting just fine to collegiate baseball, but that is to be expected as they were the third ranked recruiting class in the country.
Other notable news from the baseball team is the hiring of former Tech baseball catcher, Matt Wieters, as a student-assistant coach while he finishes his undergraduate degree. Wieters was the recipient of four All-Star selections and two Gold Glove awards during his over 10 years in the MLB.
Most recently, Tech announced the full schedule for the 2023 season which will start at home on Friday, Feb. 17, 2023 as they kick off a three-game series versus Miami (OH).