Is he excited? Is he worried? It’s hard to tell.
Though it’s hard to get a read on Georgia Tech’s Andrew Robinson, when the song “Hillbilly Bone” reverberates through Russ Chandler Stadium, fans know one thing about the Yellow Jackets’ closer: He’s ready to go.
Stone-faced and efficient, Robinson comes in and throws six warmup pitches instead of the usual eight, to six different spots, and he's ready to get to work.
Like Robinson's demeanor, the results have been solid: seven saves in seven chances, a 2.45 ERA inflated by one bad outing and 39 base-runners allowed in 29 1/3 innings.
Tech will need him to stay perfect in the ACC tournament. The third-seeded Jackets will open against Virginia Tech at 8 p.m. Thursday. Even if Tech doesn't win the tournament, a good showing likely will secure a regional in Atlanta.
"It's win or go home," Robinson said, before switching to neutral. "It's a little different, but it's still just a baseball game."
Robinson took over as closer after an injury to Kevin Jacob. His first save was a scary outing against North Carolina. He inherited a 2-1 lead and promptly loaded the bases by giving up a hit and walking two. But he got the next batter to hit a liner to second baseman Jacob Esch, who started a double play that preserved the 2-1 win in Chapel Hill. Through it all, he didn't smile or frown. He just pitched.
"He's so even, so even-keeled," catcher Cole Leonida said. "It's tough to tell. Is he bored? With that kind of blank stare. Is he really focused?
"But that's the thing. Nothing gets to him. He never gets rattled and never wavers from that even plane."
Robinson said he's focused ... and he's pumped up, even if nobody else can tell. He will watch videos of his past performances on his iPod to get psyched. But demonstrative behavior isn't him. He tried coming out last year to a hard-rock song by Linkin Park, "What I've Done," but the screaming and loud guitars were a bit too much. So he changed it to the country tune by Blake Shelton.
"My whole thing is to be calm and not show that adrenaline," Robinson said.
The even-keeled approach comes from experience. Though he has been mostly a middle reliever, he also has been a starter. In his fourth season, he has made 95 appearances. There's not much he hasn't seen or experienced.
"He's got that kind of bulldog mentality," Leonida said. "He knows what he needs to do to get the job done. He's the one we want out there."
And he wants to be out there. Of the three pitching roles he has performed at Tech, he said closing is the most fun because of what's at stake.
The only way to tell if he's having fun is to watch the results. Tech coach Danny Hall said Robinson reached 95 mph with his fastball in the regular-season finale series against Boston College.
"You can pretty much tell how he's throwing when it comes out of his hand," Hall said. "Key for him is getting his breaking ball over. When he's throwing hard and getting his breaking ball over, he's hard to hit."
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