Ken here. Sorry for the extended break. My editor Ray was kind enough to let me lay low after the birth of my second child. Mother and child are both well if you’re wondering.
My thanks to Doug for filling in ably for me. Ol’ Doug knows his stuff.
Anyway, on to Georgia Tech’s loss in the NCAA regional round this weekend at Russ Chandler. It’s the fourth year in a row that the Jackets have not been able to make it out of the regional. It’s the third year in a row that Tech has lost on its home field as the region’s No. 1 seed.
The Jackets have bucked some considerable odds with that unfortunate hat trick. In 2009 and 2010, of the 32 No. 1 seeds, 26 made it out of their region into the super regional. Of the six who didn’t, Tech is the only team who fell short twice.
I will note that No. 1 seeds are having a rough go of things this year. Eight No. 1’s have determined their fate as of 11:50 p.m. Sunday. Four are advancing, four have been bounced. So, at least Tech has some company this year.
But, obviously, the selection committee has done a pretty good job at identifying the best teams, not to mention allowing them to play at home, and Tech hasn’t delivered.
How do you weigh that against College World Series appearances in 2002 and 2006?
And what weight do you give to the fact that Tech’s roster was depleted last year by the draft and played with 17 freshmen this year, most in the country?
Looking at this particular weekend, the loss of pitcher Mark Pope to an oblique strain on Friday was critical. First, the loss put Tech in the loser’s bracket. (Which is not to say Tech would have won Friday with Pope in. The Jackets still scored only one run.)
Second, it required Danny Hall to bring in Matthew Grimes in relief. Had Pope finished out the game, even if the Jackets had still lost, Grimes would have been available to start Sunday night against Mississippi State.
It’s all conjecture, but I think Tech would have stood a much better chance with Grimes, Tech’s midweek starter, than DeAndre Smelter, a reliever who had made 13 appearances this season (with a 0.00 ERA) but no starts.
“It might have been a little different outcome if we’d thrown Matthew Grimes,” Hall said.
That said, Smelter didn’t get much help. Of the six runs he gave up, five were unearned.
Consider this detail dug up by my colleague Matt Winkeljohn about tournament most outstanding player C.T. Bradford.
He scored in the first on an unearned run (which you could put on Smelter as Bradford advanced one base on a wild pitch). Bradford hit a two-run double in the second; those runs were also unearned (the leadoff batter got on via a throwing error). In the third, he hit a two-run single, also with two outs and also unearned; a fielding error extended that inning.
Said Hall, “We made some miscues and made [Smelter and reliever Dusty Isaacs] have to make some pitches that they couldn’t quite execute.”