Following a disappointing season, Georgia Tech fired pitching coach Danny Borrell on Thursday. The move comes one day after the Yellow Jackets’ season ended with two losses in the ACC Tournament and a 30-27 (12-20 ACC) record.
Coach Danny Hall will remain with a vote of confidence from athletic director J Batt.
“Everyone associated with our program is disappointed that this season didn’t meet the high standards that we all have for Georgia Tech baseball, as I know our fans are, too,” Batt said in a statement. “I have full faith in coach Hall as the leader of our program, and I support his decision to make this change on his staff.
“All of us are appreciative of coach Borrell’s efforts over the past four seasons, and we wish him and his family nothing but the very best.
“Coach Hall is one of the very best coaches in college baseball. I’m looking forward to continuing to support him as he works to get our program back on the path to Omaha (for the College World Series).”
Batt made the decision to stay with Hall in the face of disappointing results and mounting disenchantment from the Tech fan base with the leadership of the baseball program.
The Jackets perennially have generated productive offenses, especially so since the hire of assistant coach (and now associate head coach) James Ramsey before the 2019 season. But Hall also has held ultimate accountability for a pitching staff and defense that have been substandard.
Borrell’s contract was extended in August 2021 through the 2025 season at an annual salary of $225,000. (Ramsey’s deal also is through 2025 at $200,000 annually; Hall’s term is the same and worth $510,000 per year.)
Tech will finish 13th in the ACC in ERA for the third consecutive season, and its rate this season (6.99) was its highest in more than 40 years. Even as Tech continued to be among the top offenses in the ACC despite major losses to the draft, Hall’s aspirations for better play on the mound and in the field went unfulfilled.
Before the season, Hall said that “we need to be a way-better pitching team and play way-better defense, particularly infield defense, than we did last year.”
His comment followed a 2022 season in which the Jackets fielded a historically potent offense but finished 36-24 overall and 15-15 in the ACC, in no small part because of the inconsistent pitching and subpar defensive play.
But after Tech’s first pool-play game at the ACC Tournament, an 11-5 loss to North Carolina on Tuesday, Hall acknowledged that the objective had not been met. Hall said that injuries were a factor in the team’s lack of pitching performance this season but not the entire factor.
“That and our defense,” he said. “We were solid defensively. I’d like to see us play better defense, particularly in the infield. The name of the game, if you can pitch and play defense, you can win a lot of baseball games, and we’ve just got to continue to try to solve that issue. It’s frustrating.”
Hall went on to say that Tech had continued to live up to its reputation as a strong hitting team, “but we just haven’t gotten the other piece of the puzzle solved. It’s not for a lack of effort. We’re trying everything we can to solve it, but haven’t been able to solve it.”
Tech’s inability to consistently limit opponents has played a significant role in its continuing struggles in the NCAA Tournament, both by causing losses during the regular season that have kept the Jackets from earning an easier path to the super regionals and also in the tournament itself.
Tech has lost in the regional round in its past 11 NCAA trips. Since Hall led the Jackets to the 2006 College World Series – at that point, Tech’s third trip in Hall’s first 13 seasons – 12 of the other 13 teams in the ACC have made it to the super-regional round, most more than once. In the same span, seven conference teams have made a total of 25 CWS trips. Tech, meanwhile, has dealt with heartbreak and disappointment.
Hall’s credentials need little embellishment. He has been named ACC coach of the year four times, most recently in 2019. In his 30 seasons, the Jackets have made the NCAA Tournament 23 times. He is the only coach in Tech history who has taken the Jackets to the CWS. During his Tech tenure, he has had 139 players drafted. Despite the disappointment of the season, the program does appear to be on an uptick, making NCAA appearances in 2019, 2021 and 2022 after failing to make it three of the previous four seasons.
It is the person who has compiled that record that Batt will entrust to get the pitching and defense corrected. Hall, who now has dismissed three pitching coaches in the past 11 years, will start the search anew.
Borrell’s hire in August 2019 from his position as the New York Yankees minor-league pitching coordinator was greeted with fanfare and high hopes. However, the Jackets struggled with control and often were hit with injuries. After last season, Hall said that Borrell was doing “an outstanding job” and contended that he was adapting to his role after coming from the Yankees, where his focus was developing minor leaguers to be ready to play in the majors more than winning immediately.
“I’d just say it like this,” Hall said then. “Let’s get them in the top half of the ACC. And if we do that, we’re in great shape.”
It is the ongoing aspiration for Hall and all those who support his team.
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