Further, the Jackets will have to do it without first baseman/designated hitter Kel Johnson and most likely catcher Joey Bart, as well. Johnson is out with a dislocated shoulder and Bart is probably out with a thumb injury. They are responsible for 26 percent of the team’s RBI and 32 percent of its home runs.
Hall was encouraged that, with the two out of the lineup in the final regular-season series against Virginia, the Jackets scored 26 runs in three games.
“So it can happen, but we’ve got to make it happen,” Hall said.
To this point, Tech’s winning percentage (.509) is the lowest in Hall’s 24 seasons at Tech. Injuries and inconsistent play have been the downfall. Tech is second to last in the ACC in ERA (5.41) and has given up the most walks and the third most hits. At the plate, the Jackets are third in home runs and doubles but ninth in runs.
Asked what he could count on in Louisville, Hall replied, “Just us playing hard.”
Against Miami, Tech will start Jake Lee, who has a 5.51 ERA but has pitched effectively in his past two starts. The second pool-play game is Wednesday at 7 p.m. vs. Wake Forest. Xzavion Curry is scheduled to make that start.
“We’ve had moments where we’ve pitched well, played well,” Hall said. “We’ve had moments where we haven’t. We don’t have to play perfect, but we’ve got to play good.”
If not, Tech will miss the NCAA Tournament for the fourth time in Hall’s tenure but the second time in the past three seasons.
The format was changed this season to give more teams a chance to get into the ACC Tournament and enhance their NCAA Tournament resumes, and also to give every team a chance to play two games. The most recent format placed the bottom four teams in play-in games. The tiebreaker format was instituted to reward the teams that did the best in the regular season, although it has created games that will be effectively meaningless. The two lower-seeded teams in the three-team pools are basically playing single elimination and the top-seeded team double-elimination.
“In my opinion, the team that plays well throughout the year, that’s their reward, and everybody else just kind of has to deal with it,” Hall said.