ATLANTA, GEORGIA — The Jackets were bask in action on a number of sporting endeavors last week, with the two most notable being women’s basketball in Greensboro for the ACC Tournament and baseball’s home/away/neutral split weekend series versus the lads from Athens. Of course, we will dive into all sports, but, if you haven’t heard, you can at least update the annual counter of Athenian-related beef to include a baseball series win. Every month is a new month, right?
Anyways, thinking about the bigger picture, we will also take a look at the tennis teams and their early ACC road swings, as well as the action from Mewborn Field, where Tech was once again in the friendly confines of their home park. Finally, to wrap things up, a trip to West Campus will be in store, as we take a look at the results from the club sports world, particularly lacrosse and hockey.
Overall: 15-5 | Last Week: 1-3
Kennesaw State - [W] 5-0: Tech was not particularly efficient at the plate in this game, but they were relentless, so it didn’t matter much that they left eight batters on the basepaths. The Jackets steadily added to their lead, scoring a run or two in most innings, while Blake Neleman kept the Owls off of board with a complete game shutout.
Duke - [L] 9-1 (5): Tech was always facing its toughest test of the young season with Duke coming to town to open conference play. In the initial game, the Blue Devils were able to notch four runs off seven hits of Tech’s ace Neleman late in the game. Tech took an early lead at 1-0 and were able to carry that lead into the fourth before their luck ran out.
Weather Notes Watch: Euphoric
Duke - [L] 10-3: Much like the previous day’s game, Tech had a fairly large crowd at the Mew, and the 535 in attendance has to be the largest I’ve seen in a while, but can’t really back that up, since attendance isn’t charted in the media guide. Tech kept the game close into the middle innings, and once again was the first to score. However, Duke slowly tacked on runs over the course of the game.
Weather Notes Watch: Perfecto
Duke - [L] 3-1: Tech kept the game scoreless into the sixth, and held one of the best teams in the country to just three runs over all. However, the bats came up with a bit too little a bit too late, as they were only able to add one in the bottom of the seventh, before succumbing to a sweep.
Weather Notes Watch: Here for it
Polls - Golfstat: 11
The Jackets spent the beginning of the week in Las Vegas, where they came in fifth in the Southern Highlands Collegiate. Some of the country’s best teams, including top ranked Oklahoma, were in the field, and Tech was able to just narrowly edge out the Athenians for the head-to-head win in Clean, Old Fashioned Hate. Also in the news, Ross Steelman was named ACC Co-Golfer of the Month for February, while Christo Lamprecht led the way in the desert, as his excellent showing landed him in a tie for second place individually.
Overall: 21-10 | Last Week: 1-1
Polls - AP Poll: 25 | Coaches: 25
Women’s basketball headed to Greensboro this week for the ACC Tournament. Tech played a tired Wake Forest team for the second time in five days, and were able to notch yet another victory in a tight defensive battle that finished 49-44. Lorela Cubaj suffered a face injury early in the game, which affected her evening, as well as causing her to come in off the bench in the Friday night tilt against Notre Dame. While Tech’s first matchup with the Irish was a narrow overtime contest where their guests had needed everything to break their way and then some, it was never really in doubt in the tournament, where the Irish solidly beat a banged-up Tech to cruise to a win. However, it was North Carolina State that ultimately came out on top of the pile for the tournament, and, well, Tech hasn’t looked quite themselves since their Monday night marquee matchup against the Wolfpack four weeks ago.
The Jackets have a week to rest before finding out where they will head for the Big Dance, as the women’s NCAA Selection Show moves from Monday to Sunday, and will air in primetime next week.
Overall: 5-6 | Last Week: 0-2-
Rankings - ITA: 44
Men’s Tennis got their first taste of ACC action this week as the Jackets headed to Louisville and South Bend for face two top 50 programs. Both schools are roughly comparable to Tech, and in both cases, the Jackets wound up on the short end of a 4-3 result. Most notably, Tech’s star court one stalwart Andres Martin suffered defeats in both contests, and Tech finds themselves on the wrong side of the .500 barrier, and important standard for NCAA Tournament qualification. They are still in fine shape, but do have their work cut out for them the rest of the way, as they have been victim of a few tight matches not coming up their way so far this season. They will rest next week before welcoming preseason conference favorite Virginia the weekend of March 18th.
Overall: 6-4 | Last Week: 2-0
Rankings - ITA: 37
Tech continued their impressive streak of road play this weekend as they headed to the cold northern reaches of the conference. In the first match at Syracuse, Tech handled a team that they have struggled with in the past rather solidly in a 5-2 victory. The hosts were able to take the doubles point to start, but Tech was resolute in singles, with only Ava Hrastar suffering a defeat, and even then, that defeat came in tiebreak. In the second match, the Jackets headed further east and easily cruised to a 6-1 decision in Chestnut Hill. Boston College was able to take a point from Tech on court five, as Kate Sharabura fell in three hard-fought sets.
The Hot Corner:
Who even needs Sunday when we already had the series win? Yeah, no, even that rhetorical question isn’t all that satisfying, it is always better to win than to lose. With the series wrapped up after wins in the true home game and true road game, Tech needed a win just for the extra bragging rights and the sweep, though all the quality wins over other power opponents are always nice, too. After a sparkler of a performance Saturday, as well as one that was incredibly solid outside of a one inning meltdown on Friday, it was pitching that doomed the Jackets in Lawrenceville - and, yes, it is still rather nonsensical that the game no longer is played in the major league park - in their 12-3 loss.
With the negatives out of the way, it is time to focus on the positives, and there certainly was a lot to like in the first two games. In the home leg, Tech found themselves in front of a very energetic gold and white crowd of 3,394, and the bats responded in kind. The Jackets took an early 3-0 lead in the first and never looked back. They tacked on three more runs on a middle inning home run by this year’s most surprising player, Tim Borden, who glommed onto the starting lineup and has thus far shown exactly why he needs to stay in it. Tech was able to scorch Athenian ace Jonathan Cannon for six runs in six innings of work, and showed that they could absolutely handle well-regarded pitching. Late in the game, even despite seeing a seven run lead evaporate, the bats did what they needed do to give Tech some breathing room for John Medich to slam the door after another brilliant Chance Huff start for the 11-7 Tech win.
In the second game, Tech once again was able to pounce early, though it was not without some angst, as Zach Maxwell pitched a scoreless start in three innings of work, but with pretty consistent traffic on the basepaths. Chandler Simpson once again notched three hits on the game, showing once again that strategic use of transfers is great, and can fill very needed voids on the roster. Tech steadily tacked on runs while freshman Cody Carwile turned in three extremely effective innings in relief, yielding just one walk, while Aeden Finateri followed him for the nine out finale.
All in all, a Joe Maddon-termed “Meatloaf,” i.e., that two out of three isn’t bad, is a perfectly acceptable way to escape the weekend, giving Tech the right to claim the state baseball crown for the third time in four seasons. I will certainly take that.
In the Club House:
Tech Hockey ended the weekend with a fifth place finish in their conference tournament, thanks to following up a 9-5 Alabama loss with a 4-3 Clemson win. As we are all new to the CHF playoff system - this is Tech’s first year in the organization - I don’t know what to tell you about the likelihood of them going to the national championship bracket, but, well we can sure hope they do, at least.
Men’s Lacrosse played host to a trio of games this weekend, with Michigan State and Florida in town for a round robin weekend. On the weekend, Tech started out with a strong showing, but one that ultimately ended in a tough loss for the Jackets, 10-9. In the Sunday matinee, however, Tech was able to turn things around with a comfortable 12-6 win over the Spartans.
3/8-TBD - ACC Tournament (Brooklyn, NY)
First Round vs. Louisville
3/13 - NCAA Championship Selection Show
3/9 - at Mercer
3/11-13 - Virginia Polytechnic and State University
3/8 - Middle Tennessee State
3/11-13 - Florida State
3/9 - Louisville
3/11 - Notre Dame
Track and Field:
3/11-12 - NCAA Championships (Birmingham, AL)
Ongoing through 3/9 - Zone Diving Championships (McAuley Aquatic Center, Atlanta, GA)