Georgia Tech catcher makes good on promise to get Yellow Jackets back to postseason

Georgia Tech catcher Matthew Ellis. (Miguel Martinez /

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Georgia Tech catcher Matthew Ellis. (Miguel Martinez /

One of the more important cogs in the Georgia Tech lineup in 2024 has been Matthew Ellis, a super senior who took a flier on the Tech and fulfilled a promise to get the Yellow Jackets back to the NCAA Tournament.

“When I committed here, I told (assistant coach James) Ramsey and coach (Danny) Hall that I wanted to make sure Georgia Tech got back to where it belonged,” Ellis said this week. “With the support staff and the coaching there’s no reason we shouldn’t be playing in a regional, hosting a regional, playing in a Super Regional every year. I think that was one of my biggest goals, and for the team, was to be back in the postseason and (for Tech to) be a mainstay moving forward.”

When Ellis and Tech take the diamond at Foley Field in Athens at 7 p.m. Friday, the veteran college catcher will get to experience the NCAA Tournament for the first time. Despite being a college baseball player since 2019, and despite having made two previous stops at two Division I programs, Ellis has never played in a regional.

Ellis missed the two months of the 2023 season with a wrist injury while he was at Indiana. The Hoosiers made the Lexington (Ky.) Regional that season, but Ellis could only watch from the bench. This time around he’ll be in the heart of the action when Tech (31-23) faces North Carolina-Wilmington (39-19) on Friday.

“I couldn’t have asked for a better experience,” Ellis said of his one and only season with the Jackets. “Going into the transfer portal I knew I kind of wanted to go one of the more (tradition) rich programs in the country and then obviously coming here and meeting the coaches and getting the opportunity that they gave me was kind of a no-brainer. I couldn’t have asked for a better season and a better place to come play my last year of college baseball.”

Once upon a time Ellis was a promising prospect out of Waddy, Kentucky, a small town nestled between Louisville and Lexington. He hit .461 with eight homers as a senior and was an all-state selection, catching the eye of Tennessee, who signed him for the 2019 season.

But Ellis would admit later during his Indiana tenure that he wasn’t ready for that level of baseball, especially defensively, where he couldn’t climb the depth chart or even see the field. The 6-foot-4, 248-pound catcher redshirted, then swallowed a tough pill and opted to transfer to Walters State Community College, 45 minutes northeast of Knoxville, Tennessee.

After the 2020 season was cut short by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ellis found his footing in 2021 by starting all 65 games, driving in 62 runs, hitting 17 home runs and totaling 71 hits. Those numbers gained him attention from multiple Division I programs.

Ellis decided to play a little closer to home at Indiana and made an immediate impact by hitting 18 home runs and driving in 65 runs as both a catcher and designated hitter. He played in only 24 games in 2023 before his season-ending injury.

Tech coach Danny Hall said assistant Zeke Pinkham, a former Louisville standout and fellow Kentucky native, was instrumental in getting Ellis to suit up in white and gold.

“We wouldn’t be here (without Ellis),” Hall said. “I mean, honestly. He has had games where he has put us on his back. We needed him and he came through.”

Going into this weekend’s Athens Regional, Ellis has made 53 starts, ranks second among Jackets in runs (51), home runs (16), RBIs (58), slugging percentage (.617) and walks (47). His hitting .318 and six hits shy of 70 for the season.

Those numbers are a bit more impressive when put into the context that on March 30, after Tech’s series with Boston College, Ellis was hitting only .275. He wound up hitting .340 against ACC teams, with 11 homers and 33 RBIs.

“Personally, for me, you just have to bring your best game every day or you’re gonna get embarrassed out there and you’re not gonna do really well,” Ellis said about finding his groove against the ACC. “I had one of my better seasons – it started really slow, but the second half of the year was one of the things I was most proud of.”

Ellis has at least two games left in his collegiate career, one at 7 p.m. Friday and another at either noon or 6 p.m. Saturday. Should he continue to rake like he has for the past four months, and like he has for much of his time in college when able, he and the Jackets will have a chance to play on into the weekend – and possibly into the next for the first time since 2006.

“I think for our team it brought us together knowing that we had our hardest part of the schedule at the end of the year and that was the chance we could play our best baseball and make a run in the postseason,” Ellis added.