Baseball red hot against Eagles and Big Red

Senior right-handed reliever Camren Landry releases a winding pitch against the Cornell Big Red’s batter on Saturday, Feb 23. The Jackets ended up winning the game, 9-6. // Photo by Catey Thurston Student Publications

A 3-0 opening weekend sweep against the Radford Highlanders had the Jackets’ baseball team intent on continuing strong in their matchups against Georgia Southern University Eagles and a homestand against the Cornell Big Red. Georgia Southern sought revenge on Tech, who won the two matchups last season. The Jackets’ victory in Statesboro the prior season marked their first away victory against the Eagles since the 2020 season. 

Tech traveled to Statesboro Tuesday Feb. 20 where junior right-handed pitcher (RHP) Logan McGuire took the mound in his first season start. McGuire looks to improve on the past two seasons especially after being shut down due to injury in 2023. The Eagles scored first with a single to score two runs batted in (RBI) shortly followed by an RBI double to put the Jackets in a 0-3 hole after retiring the first. 

McGuire held the Eagles scoreless the next three innings on  a career-high seven strikeouts. Tech got on the board in the fifth with a single run on a sacrifice fly by freshman center-fielder Drew Buress. McGuire turned the mound over to RHPs redshirt junior Ben King and senior Dawson Brown — King got two outs, but a RBI single had Brown finish the fifth. 

Left-handed senior Cam Jones moved from first base to mound to relieve  Brown in the sixth. Jones dominated the diamond, amassing a career-high eight strikeouts alongside only three hits over 3.2 scoreless innings to close the game.

Fueled by Jones’ performance, the offense began to fall in line during the seventh. Buress’ two-RBI single put the Jackets at 2-3 in the seventh. 

The Jackets tied the game in the eighth after senior left-fielder Trey Springer sent Jones home on a blast to left field. With two outs in the eighth, second baseman Mike Becchetti sent two RBIs  with a double roped to the outfield. Becchetti sent  a single down the line by sophomore right-fielder Parker Brosius for the dagger for a 7-4 Jackets victory.

Camron Hill took the mound on Friday Feb. 25 to defend the Flatts against the Cornell Big Red, their first matchups since 1991. The left-handed junior threw seven strikeouts, surrendering a first inning run in his four inning starting season debut. Junior shortstop Payton Green answered with a triple to score Buress in the first, and senior designated hitter Bobby Zmarzlak scored Jones in the third off a drive to center field.

Cornell added three runs with two outs to force RHP Camren Landry off the mound in the fifth. Senior RHP Brett Thomas calmed the Big Red in 1.1 scoreless innings before righty redshirt freshman Riley Stanford took the mound for the seventh. Stanford only allowed one hit and earned run in his collegiate debut.

After Jones scored on a Cornell error in the seventh, Buress sparked Tech’s comeback. With the pressure of two outs, Buress’ cleared the basepaths with a double to left field to put the Jackets up 6-5. The Big Red were unable to respond as junior RHP Terry Busse threw a hitless eighth.

Tech’s offense was not  finished — the eighth inning saw Green hit a solo home run, and senior third baseman John Giesler slugged a two-run homer before freshman RHP Michal Kovala struck two out against a single run in the ninth, ending the game 9-6 for another Jacket win.

The Jackets carried this momentum into Saturday, Feb. 24. An eight-run first inning combined with a 10-strikeout performance by starting junior RHP Aeden Finateri claimed a Tech win early. 

Buress knocked a leadoff solo home run before the two-out to begin the day. Giesler’s RBI-double scored senior catcher Matthew Ellis scored on a Zmarzlak double. Becchetti smashed a home run, and Buress sent his second homer of the inning for three runs. The Jackets had scored 15 runs in their last three innings. His solo home run only added to a Bechetti and Giesler combo, so it will be interesting to see how Tech head coach Danny Hall is organizing his best rotations. 

Becchetti knocked another homer in the fifth and Giesler scored two on a double in the seventh — Cornell only scored two while Tech collected another win 12-2 to start the season 6-0.

Sunday, Feb. 25 brought an end to this win streak. A pair of runs put the Big Red up two in two innings and a two-RBI single tagged starting junior RHP Mason Patel for four runs in his four innings. Cornell added another three in the sixth against Dawson and Thomas before the Jackets could respond. 

A three-run homer by Zmarzlak brought Tech to a 3-6 deficit, but Cornell hung another four on the Jackets in the ninth to ice the game despite the  solo home run by freshman pinch-hitter Vahn Lackey. 

The Jackets dropped their first game of the season 4-11. The 6-1 Jackets strive to establish another win streak against the University of Georgia Bulldogs this weekend after hosting the Georgia State University Panthers on Tuesday, Feb. 27. Series against Georgia are always incredibly contested and Tech will host the first game at MacNease on Friday, Mar. 1.