As they headed to Tallahassee last weekend, Georgia Tech found itself highly ranked and the last remaining undefeated team in the country. They were 12-0, and they were rolling -- nine of their wins had come by 3 runs or more.
Since then, it's been a different story. The Jackets were swept by Florida State this weekend, losing each game by at least 5 runs, and then lost in blowout fashion on Tuesday night to Auburn by a 14-3 margin.
So what's changed? Well, two things in particular. Let's look at the box scores, and we'll talk about what's changed afterwards.
Friday, March 11
|#9 Georgia Tech (12-1, 0-1)||0||1||0||0||1||0||0||0||0||2||8||2|
|#11 Florida State (11-3, 1-0)||1||0||5||0||1||0||1||0||X||8||14||1|
Saturday, March 12
|#9 Georgia Tech (12-2, 0-2)||3||0||0||2||0||0||0||0||4||9||16||4|
|#11 Florida State (12-3, 2-0)||0||0||0||0||6||0||3||5||X||14||13||3|
Sunday, March 13
|#9 Georgia Tech (12-3, 0-3)||0||0||0||1||0||2||0||0||0||3||9||1|
|#11 Florida State (13-3, 1-0)||2||0||1||2||3||0||0||0||X||8||12||1|
Tuesday, March 15
|Auburn (9-8, 0-0)||0||0||3||9||0||0||0||2||0||14||17||1|
|#22 Georgia Tech (12-4, 0-3)||0||0||2||0||1||0||0||0||0||3||12||4|
What's going on?
Two big things have been killing the Jackets over these last four games.
Over their last four games, Georgia Tech has committed eleven errors, and has not seen a single game where they had fewer than their opponents. They've committed four errors in two separate games during this stretch -- rarely a recipe for success at this level of baseball. If they're going to pull out of this skid, the defense has to improve. If it does, you might see it lead to an improvement in the other area, as well.
Specifically, the opponent is having them. A lot of them. In this four-game stretch, Georgia Tech has given up five or more runs in 4 separate innings, and they've given up three or more runs in 7 separate innings. It's one thing for the pitching staff to give up some runs -- it's another thing when they're coming in bunches, and when the bullpen is unable to stop the bleeding before the damage is done. Those big innings change games in a big way, too. Going into the top of the 4th inning against Auburn, the Yellow Jackets trailed by a small 3-2 margin. Three outs later, they trailed by a massive 12-2 margin. On Saturday, they were sitting pretty headed into the bottom of the 5th inning, with a comfortable 5-0 lead. Three outs later, they trailed 6-5. Cleaning up the defense might help out with this, but it's also on the pitching staff to work itself out of tough situations.
Will it get better?
With the amount of talent on the team, you'd have to think so. It could even start as early as this weekend, when Georgia Tech will be at home, hosting Virginia Tech (10-8, 1-2). The Hokies lost 2 of 3 in their ACC-opening series against Miami last weekend, and then gave up a whopping 22 runs in a loss to Liberty on Tuesday. Hopefully this weekend's matchup will be just what the doctor ordered to get Georgia Tech back on track.