GT Baseball end of season recap

Although they had one of the 20 strongest schedules in college baseball, Tech finished the season with a 33-25 record and secured the No. 10 seed in the ACC tournament with a 15-15 record in conference play. The Jackets played in a pool alongside the Virginia Cavaliers and Florida State, where the winner of the pool would move onto a single elimination bracket. Tech could not secure wins against either the Seminoles or the Cavaliers and headed back to Atlanta, hoping they showed enough to compete in the College World Series (CWS). Fortunately, Tech was selected  and earned a berth in the Athens regional alongside the University of Georgia Bulldogs, University of North Carolina Wilmington Seahawks and the Army Golden Knights. The Jackets came within one inning of winning their regional but fell short in the end. Despite the disappointing season finale, the Jackets made an exciting return to the CWS qualifiers after one season out of it.

Tech started off their quest for an ACC title with a game against a familiar opponent in Florida State. Tech started the game off in trouble — sophomore designated hitter Marco Dinges smacked a two-run home run over the fence at the bottom of the first inning. Superstar freshman outfielder Drew Burress answered two innings later with a solo homer of his own to pull the Jackets within one. The Seminoles blew the game open in the fourth and fifth innings, hitting three home runs and scoring six runs to make the score 8-1. The Jackets battled back in the seventh, scoring five runs thanks to RBIs from freshman catcher Vahn Lackey, senior designated hitter Matthew Ellis, senior outfielder Cam Jones, senior second baseman Mike Becchetti and Burress. Florida State tacked on four more runs to push their advantage to 6 in the eighth inning with the score 12-6. Tech scored three runs in the ninth thanks to a homer from Jones and RBIs from Lackey and Burress. Unfortunately, Tech was unable to overcome the deficit and the game ended 9-12 in favor of Florida State. 

The Jackets did not have much time to absorb the loss; they took on Virginia in their second game of the ACC Championship tournament the very next day. Tech held serve in the first inning, but the game soon got out of hand. From the second to sixth inning, Virginia diced up Tech’s pitchers, scoring 13 unanswered runs. The Cavaliers sealed their victory  with a scoreless seventh inning to eliminate the Jackets from the ACC Championship. Tech only mustered five hits against Virginia’s pitching staff in a disappointing end to the ACC journey.

Despite a short ACC Championship run, the Jackets still had  more baseball to play. Initially projected to miss the CWS, the case against the Jackets came down to their record not being as strong as the others vying for a spot in the CWS. However, the committee recognized their strength of schedule was one of the toughest in the nation and ultimately gave Tech the nod. They were placed in the Athens Regional against a competition pool of UNC-Wilmington, Army and a familiar foe in Georgia.

After a shutout loss in their last game against the Bulldogs, Tech hoped to start the Athens Regional hot against UNC-Wilmington. They fell short of that goal. Their game against the Seahawks came down to two half-innings where Tech failed to execute. UNC Wilmington tagged the Jackets’ pitchers for four runs in the second and five runs in the eighth. The Jackets lost 9-0, forcing them to play an elimination game with their season in the balance against the Army Black Knights.

Thankfully, Tech came out swinging. The Jackets scored two runs in the first thanks to homers from Burress and senior third baseman John Giesler. Those two runs broke Tech’s 16 inning scoreless streak. Becchetti added on another run for the Jackets to make the score 3-0 in the fourth inning. Army responded with two runs of their own in the sixth to make it a one run game. With the bases loaded in the eighth, Giesler drew a walk to add a security run for Tech. With the Jackets up two and only needing three more outs, freshman pitcher Tate McKee took the mound. McKee had never secured a save in his career, but with the season on the line, he pitched a tremendous ninth inning to secure the save for the Jackets and kept their season alive with a 4-2 win over Army.

For their second straight elimination game, Tech rematched UNC Wilmington for a spot to play in the regional final. UNC Wilmington started the scoring for the teams in the third, but Tech would immediately respond with a Burress homer to tie the score at one. In the next inning, Becchetti hit the biggest home run of the season to give the  Jackets a 3-1 lead. Jones started the game on the mound for Tech, putting up pitched seven innings and yielding one run to give  the Jackets a chance to advance to the regional final. From there, senior pitcher Dawson Brown got the ball in the eighth and delivered a gem of  two innings to win the game for the Jackets.

After two tough wins against Army and UNC Wilmington, Tech faced Georgia for a chance to go to the College World Series in Omaha, Neb.. Georgia started the game off strong, scoring two in the first. Tech responded with an RBI off of Ellis’s bat to make the score 1-2. The Jackets took a three run lead in the following inning thanks to a three-run blast from Lackey and a Giesler RBI. Georgia scored in the fifth to make the score 5-3. The Bulldogs scored runs in both the eighth and ninth to push the game to extra innings. The Jackets had bases loaded in the ninth, but Georgia escaped  the jam. The game went into extra innings, but Georgia came up with  three runs in the tenth inning, while Tech only mustered  one. Georgia won 8-6 in one of the most entertaining games in the College World Series and advanced to Omaha.

Despite the heartbreaking loss to Georgia, the Jackets — especially Burress — earned recognition for their season. Burress’s sensational freshman performance was the highlight of the season. He led Division I freshmen in home runs, slugging percentage, total bases and walks. Along with a strong hitting season, Burress registered a program-record 10 outfield assists. Due to his impressive season, Burress earned ACC Freshman of the Year, Freshman All-American, All-ACC, Perfect Game National Freshman of the Year and First-Team All-American with more accolades surely on the way in his college career. Alongside Burress, Jones was a finalist for the John Olerud Two-Way Player of the Year Award and Ellis was named All-Region.

Despite a turbulent year, Tech has a lot of positives to take away from the season. The Jackets have a budding superstar in Burress and came within two innings of pushing the regional to a game seven. Overall, the Jackets should be a team to look out for in 2025.