The No.15 ranked Georgia Tech Baseball team got their season off to a strong start this weekend, collecting two wins against the Ohio Valley Conference’s Eastern Kentucky Colonels.
The Yellow Jackets bats led the way in the series, scoring a combined 25 runs over the three-game series. The pitching didn’t have as much success, allowing 15 runs in the first two games of the series before bouncing back and keeping Eastern Kentucky to a single run on Sunday afternoon.
On Friday, the Jackets started the season off with a 12-6 win. Starting pitcher Brant Hurter went 4 2/3 innings, allowing just one run over four hits. He also struck out three and walked three in his first action since 2019. Outside of a rough performance from Jackson Finley, the Jackets bullpen was also solid in the game. Finley allowed four earned runs and five total in his 1 2/3 innings pitched. Relievers Chance Huff, Hugh Chapman, and Luke Bartnicki pitched the last 2 2/3 innings, allowing just one base runner while striking out six.
At the plate, the Jackets scored their 12 runs over 10 hits and four walks. Three Jackets also reached base via errors in the contest. Right fielder Stephen Reid was the star of game one offensively, going 2-for-5 at the plate with four RBI including his first home run of the season in the sixth inning, a two-run shot. Catcher Jake Holland also drove in two runs in the contest.
In game two of the season on Saturday, the Jackets fell 9-6. Starting pitcher Andy Archer lasted just three innings, throwing 71 pitches in the process. He allowed two runs, one earned over those three frames on two hits as well as a pair of walks. Dalton Smith struggled out of the pen allowing four runs, all earned across four hits and three walks. The Jackets bullpen as a whole allowed seven earned runs in their six innings of work. Third baseman Drew Compton and catcher Kevin Parada both former top recruits had big days at the plate. Compton went 3-for-4 with two RBI while Parada went 1-for-4 with a pair of runs batted in as well.
The Jackets picked up win No.2 of the season on Sunday afternoon by a final score of 7-1. Pitcher Sam Crawford was stellar in his first career start, allowing just one run over two hits in six innings. He only struck out two during his six innings but was efficient nonetheless, throwing just 68 pitches. The Jackets bullpen was also strong in relief, tossing three hitless innings. At the plate, seven different Yellow Jackets collected hits including multi-hit games out of third baseman Justyn-Henry Malloy and right fielder Jake DeLeo. Shortstop Luke Waddell picked up his first home run of the season, a lead-off home run in the bottom of the first inning.
Overall, the Jackets through their first three games have looked strong at the plate, hitting .280 (30-for-107) with an on-base percentage of .402. They slugged five home runs over their 107 at-bats. Despite allowing 16 runs against Eastern Kentucky, the Jackets pitching wasn’t entirely to blame, the Jackets committed eight errors in the field while pitchers held the Colonels to just a .208 average at the plate.
The Jacket starting pitchers in Hurter, Archer, and Crawford were particularly strong in the series, allowing just two earned runs over 13.2 innings of work. The bullpen, however, was very much up and down. The trio of Jackson Finley, Cort Roedig, and Dalton Smith allowed 10 of the Jackets 13 earned runs while the six other pitchers that came out of the bullpen were spotless, allowing just one hit and four walks over seven innings
All in all, it was a good way for the Jackets to start their 2021 season, while they surely would’ve loved to have swept Eastern Kentucky, the Jackets bats showed up for the series while the pitching staff for the most part pitched very well. The Jackets will look for win No.3 on the season this upcoming Wednesday when they take on the Mercer Bears at Russ Chandler Stadium with a first-pitch currently scheduled for 1:00 p.m.