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First Pitch: Hot streaks, outfield switches, and pitching questions

It’s hard to find areas of improvement for a team that’s 14-0, but we do the best we can in this week’s column.

Bettmann Archive

Welcome again to another edition of First Pitch! This week I took some pressing issues about the baseball team and tried my best to answer them. This was especially hard to do for a team that is currently undefeated and No. 3 in the country. I hope you all enjoy the second installment of First Pitch!

How long can this streak last?

The Red Raiders have started out extremely hot, boasting a 14-0 record, the best in school history. I am now begging the question of how long this streak can go and unfortunately it doesn’t look like it will make it to 20. The Red Raiders have faced some good teams, after all, South Alabama was ranked at No. 11 when Tech swept them last week. This 10-day road trip will be much more challenging with matchups against No. 6 Kentucky and No. 13 Louisville in Kentucky over the next week and then they’ll go to Waco to play the Baylor Bears to open up Big 12 play. This schedule will make any baseball fan’s hair stand on edge. I would be extremely surprised if the Red Raiders can escape this eight-game stretch without sustaining a loss. I predict the Red Raiders won’t make it out of Kentucky without sustaining at least one loss, and I think this loss will happen on Sunday, in the finale of the series against Kentucky. Remember, one loss and two wins against a top-10 team on the road is a hard task regardless of how good you are.

Major switch in the outfield:

I might call it the surprise of the season. Since John McMillon has officially moved into the starting rotation, he has made no starts in the outfield. This left in most people’s eyes Connor Beck as the starting right fielder for this season. Beck started the first four games of the season as the right fielder. After that series, Tech coach Tim Tadlock, as he famously does, made a major switch that no one was expecting. True freshman Kurt Wilson has taken over in right field since the opening weekend against Maine and has never looked back. Wilson has only been hitting .205, but he continues to wow coaches and teammates with his versatility. Wilson played three different positions in yesterday’s win against the New Mexico Lobos, starting in right field and finishing with being placed on the mound to finish the game. This, unfortunately, leaves Connor Beck on the bench unless another outfielder gets hurt. This is the byproduct of having a great team with fresh new talent ready to contribute immediately as freshmen.

Who is the third weekend starter?

The pitching rotation has been mostly set since the injury of Steven Gingery. Davis Martin has started the first game of every weekend series this season so far. He’s been very effective, winning all three of the games he’s started this season. McMillon has surprisingly become the main Saturday starter for the Red Raiders as he has also won all three of the games he has started. Ryan Shetter has shown to be best for the weekday starter role. He will most likely stay there as he also has not lost a game in that role this season. This leaves the one or two other starter spots up for grabs.

Early on, it appeared to be Erickson Lanning. In his two starts, he hasn’t made it out of the third inning. I understand that Tadlock doesn’t look as his starters going more than five or maybe six innings, but less than three innings from a starter puts more pressure on the bullpen on the last day of the series when the bullpen will be more depleted. Ryan Sublette got the start against South Alabama last Sunday and went 3 full innings before Jose Quezada came in and ultimately got the win. I think Coach Tadlock will keep experimenting with a third starter on the weekend as the Red Raiders only have one more weekend series that requires a fourth starter. Dylan Dusek is the player I think will eventually become the third weekend starter. I also think Tadlock gives Lanning the opportunity to get his spot back but I think Tadlock could pull one over on us and give a nearly unknown pitcher this spot later on in the season.

What do you think of this team? Do you have any questions that you want me to answer next week? Leave you thoughts in the comment section below or feel free to message me on Twitter at @jacobharris_55.