Speculation #4 -- If our baseball team can take 2 of 3 games from Florida State in Tallahassee next weekend, there's no good reason to think it can't do something it hasn't done since 2006.
If you're well-informed about our baseball team, you saw "something we haven't done since 2006" and knew immediately what I was talking about. But let's put that to the side for a second and talk about where we're at as a team.
With Sunday's 9-1 victory to complete a sweep of Boston College, Tech rose to 17-2 overall, winners of 12 of their past 13. We entered the weekend ranked 14th in the country, largely hindered by a weak strength of schedule thus far. But let's put things in perspective for a second.
Tech has yet to play anyone ranked in last week's (released March 11) poll, though they have played 4 total games against teams receiving votes, Mercer and Virginia Tech (both of whom dropped out of the poll after playing Tech the week prior). In those four games against our most highly-rated opponents, Tech won 3 of 4 games, its only loss coming on Sunday, March 10 against the Hokies when they lost 6-2. The other three games saw Tech score 16 (against Mercer), 11, and 14, for margins of victory of 7, 10, and 5, respectively. In 3 of 4 games, they were unfazed by two teams that were considered to be among the top 30 in the country at the time.
Oh, and if that doesn't instill confidence in you, consider this: in 19 games so far this year, Tech has scored at least 10 runs in 13 of them, and are undefeated (14-0) when scoring at least 9 runs. Only once has Tech won by a single run, and only 4 games (including one of two losses) have ended in a save situation (decided by three runs or less).
Looking at Tech's lineup, we see one of the hottest hitters in the league (Matt Gonzalez) hitting in the 7-spot (quite low for an impressive offensive player). We see a catcher with 9 home runs (Zane Evans) hitting in the 5-spot. We see 8 starters with at least 13 RBI, and only two players (Sam Dove and Mott Hyde) hitting below A.J. Murray's .329 mark. We see a team that's produced 245 hits (nearly 13 per game) and 98 walks (better than 5 per game), with an OBP of .438. We see a team that's 37-44 on stolen bases and has a .978 fielding percentage. Quite frankly, we see a team that's lacking an obvious chink in the armor.
In baseball, we can't consider individual games so much as we consider trends -- the outcomes of individual games are highly random and unpredictable, while trends are much more reliable across the course of a season. That being said, look at the trend that this team is riding -- massive offensive outputs, solid pitching performances (only 5 games of more than 5 runs allowed, 4 of which were wins), and straight up demolishing teams that they 're expected to beat -- that's a trend that bodes well when considering a season outlook.
The season is just over a month old has 2 months left (almost to the day -- the regular season concludes against Miami in Coral Gables on May 18). However, next weekend we travel to Tallahassee to play a series against a very hot Florida State team, a series which will tell us a lot about how the rest of this season will go.
Florida State currently sits at 17-1, with their only loss coming on the road against Maryland on Friday, and a two-game set starting tonight against Stetson. They were ranked #5 overall last week, and will prove to be a very tough test for our Jackets squad. Although I mentioned how individual games don't tell us much in baseball, and trends tell us most of what we need to know, taking two of three from the 'Noles will tell us a LOT about this team.
If our team is able to continue its positive trend against a team that's also on a highly positive trend, we'll know this is a special team. We've seen them score a lot of runs (10/game through 19 games) and keep opponents from scoring runs (under 4/game), but there have been questions about the quality of the opponents. This weekend, the questions get answered. If Tech is able to take 2 of 3 from FSU (especially if they do so convincingly), then we will know that this team is capable of going where no Tech team has been since 2006 -- the College World Series.
Agreed? Disagreed? Is this truly a special team, or have we just feasted on some especially crappy opponents to date?