Georgia Tech Baseball: 2022 season ends with heartbreak

After a stellar performance during the regular season that saw them climb up the rankings to the top 10 at one point, and an okay performance in the ACC tournament, Georgia Tech found themselves in a familiar state for the Regional Round of the NCAA Division I National Tournament: Tennessee. It is where the Yellow Jackets had their season in last season as well, with an extra inning loss to the Vanderbilt Commodores in their region championship game. This time, it would be the Commodores in-state rival: the Tennessee Volunteers. The Yellow Jackets were placed in the Knoxville bracket with the Alabama State Hornets, Campbell Fighting Camels, and the nations top-ranked team, Tennessee Volunteers.

Georgia Tech’s Humble Beginning

The tournament format is double-elimination style, where a team has to lose two games before they are eliminated. First up for the Yellow Jackets was the Fighting Camels, who came into the game sitting with a 41-19 record. The Fighting Camels got off to a hot start in the second inning, putting up an easy five runs on the Yellow Jackets before starter John Medich was pulled from the game in favor of Sam Crawford. The Yellow Jackets were able to score two runs over the next three innings to place a comeback bid, heading into the sixth inning trailing 6-2. That’s when the wheels came off the tracks again for the Yellow Jackets, as they allowed five more runs in the top of the sixth, with the Fighting Camels now holding an 11-2 lead. From there, the bats for the Yellow Jackets came alive but the pitching kept allowing runs. The lead proved to be too much for the Yellow Jackets to overcome, losing to the Fighting Camels 15-8.

Win Or Go Home

The Yellow Jackets would be only one loss away from their season ending, and that lit a fire under the team for their second game of the tournament against the Alabama State Hornets, as the bats came alive early on for both teams. Georgia Tech second baseman Chandler Simpson would get a leadoff double and eventually make his way around the bases when first baseman Andrew Jenkins hit a single that was just far enough to allow Simpson to score. The Hornets would take a two run lead in the bottom of the first inning. Georgia Tech head coach Danny Hall made the decision to stick with starter Chance Huff despite the two runs given up, which proved to be the best decision that he could have made in the game. Huff didn’t allow another run to score until the sixth inning, and by that time, the Yellow Jackets had built up a 10-2 lead. The Yellow Jackets scored three runs in the third, four runs in the fifth, and added another run in the sixth inning. Huff was pulled after the seventh inning for pitcher Jackson Finley, who only allowed one run over the next two innings. When all was said and done, the Yellow Jackets found themselves advancing to the next round with a 13-4 win.

Revenge Game

The Yellow Jackets would again face the Fighting Camels for a spot to play against the Tennessee Volunteers in the region final, this time ready to fight against everything they could throw at them. It was neck-and-neck for the first inning, with the Fighting Camels picking up where they left off in the first game. Then everything suddenly changed for the Yellow Jackets and the momentum swung in their favor. The Yellow Jackets would score five runs in the second inning followed by another run in the third and three more in the fourth. The full Georgia Tech looked up at the scoreboard as they found their team in great position to win the game, now holding on to a 10-4 lead. But it was only the fourth inning and the Yellow Jackets knew that they couldn’t afford to give up momentum, so Hall made a trip to the mound to bring in pitcher Josiah Siegal for the rest of the afternoon. Siegal would pitch six dominating innings as the Yellow Jackets would get their revenge, securing their spot in the regional final with a 16-5 win.

Regional Championship

Georgia Tech found themselves in a spot that was all too familiar with the program: two wins away from reaching the College World Series. All that stood in their way was the Tennessee Volunteers. Although this would be no easy task, the Yellow Jackets would give it their all and started the game pretty phenomenal, with pitcher Zach Maxwell not allowing a run for the first four innings of the game, while the offense was able to get on the board with two runs after a throwing error by the Volunteers and a two-run home run by Stephen Reid. A 4-0 lead against the top-ranked team in the country was a situation that fans were surprised to see happen, and for the most part the momentum swung in favor of the Yellow Jackets. In fact, the Yellow Jackets would head into the ninth inning with a 4-3 lead. Then, with everything looking up for the Yellow Jackets, the Volunteers started living up to why they were ranked as the best team in the nation. All looked well headed into the ninth, but the wheels completely fell off for the Yellow Jackets. A six run inning would absolutely crush the hopes that Georgia Tech fans and players had, as the Volunteers took a 9-4 lead. Georgia Tech still had three outs to surmount the improbable comeback, and created some late drama by having a bases loaded situation with two outs, but Hall got down 1-2 in the count and an outside fastball in the top corner of the strike zone went by him, sealing the fate of the Yellow Jackets 2022 baseball season.