Note: the reason this article was off the front page for a while is because the "What Needs Improvement" section was basically completely wrong due to my forgetting a few things in my calculations. Apologies.
Thirty-three runs. Three-three. That is how many runs the Diamond Jackets outscored the Rutgers Scarlet Knights by. We must keep in mind that Rutgers isn't exactly the best baseball team (they've yet to beat Tech in 16 consecutive tries), so the most we can really take out of this series is that Tech beat someone they were supposed to. However, that doesn't make what happened this weekend any less impressive. Channeling George R.R. Martin, the Jackets foreshadowed the events of the weekend after they put up nine runs through five innings on Friday and never looked back. Saturday the strong bats came out again, and Sunday they showed up with a little bit of lockdown pitching to give Tech its second shutout on the season. A.J. Murray was particularly entertaining, hitting two home runs in the series. In fact, one of the only snags in the whole weekend was that it was colder (and snowier) in Atlanta than it was in Piscataway. One might call Dusty Issacs' eight hits on Saturday a snag, but it didn't really hold the Jackets back. In fact, Dusty seemed to improved over last week, but we'll get to that.
The bats were the most ostentatious story of the weekend, but the best one in my opinion was the fielding. Tech committed three errors throughout the series; but was perfect at all other times. Of note was when a liner by Rutgers' Brian O'Grady was dropping into the right field gap and Daniel Palka came up from deep like a bullet train with a diving grab to make the out. The middle infield combo of Gonzalez and Hyde also worked well together, committing two errors against 11 putouts. The execution was clean and crisp, with no mistakes and no hesitation throughout. That was the most encouraging part of the defense, because it shows that the players are focused and well-trained.
The bullpen put out a good showing, and the starters dominated. Together Farmer, Issacs, and Pitts put up a rather nice line: 17IP, 18H, 2R, 19K. Pitts particularly impressed, allowing only two hits and no runs. The pen put on a similar show: 5H, 1R, 10K. Alex Cruz made an appearance on Sunday, which is good because I was starting to think that he was injured based on his recent absence. He performed well through the only inning he pitched, taking three batters down with ease. It's surprising that Coach Hall hasn't used him more this season but its most likely due to the fact that Tech is still facing easier teams and hasn't really had the need for his Kimbrel-esque arm yet.
What Needs Improvement
There wasn't a whole lot of bad in this series. The three errors were a little annoying, but a baseball team is going to commit errors at some point or another. Dusty Issacs gave up eight hits on Saturday, and at one point he let four guys on base in a row. After that, though, he got two flyouts in a row to end the inning. I'd say that's what you'd call getting back together and back in the game. Pitts only went five innings on Sunday, but saying that your starter "only" gave you five innings of two-hit, no-run ball is like saying Michael Jordan "only" put up 28 points in a game.
The Jackets take on the Mercer Bears at home this Tuesday at 6pm, followed by a three game series in Blacksburg against Virginia Tech this weekend. We'll have recaps and analysis here, and game commentary on Twitter, as well as a weekend preview article on Thursday.
Are you taking anything away from Tech's performance this weekend, or did we simply beat up on "The Little Sisters of the Poor" for 3 days?