Well, GSU baseball is full swing, and, after a dissapointing football season and an investigation of the men's basketball program, GSU baseball is just the panacea I was looking for.
Last year, my Eagles set multiple school records, and even set an NCAA record for most home runs in a single game with 14 against Cornell last March. They finished 37th in attendance in the NCAA, also setting a school record for season attendence. But now to this season. Returning nearly everyone who mattered, the Eagles got off to the same blistering offensive pace, but something was different.
Rodney Hennon found some pitchers.
Not to say that any of out pitchers are going to win the Cy Young in the pros, but when you're scoring nearly 10 runs a game (9.9) to be exact, you don't need much in the way of pitching. But our pitching staff has responded, especially the bullpen, bolstered by the arrival of Kyle Kamppi, who moved from a starter's role last year neatly into the closer's role this year, going 2-1 witha 2.75 ERA and 25 strikeouts in 19 2/3 innings (11.44 K/9) while leading the team by converting 5 out of 5 saves (he's also in my Biology Lab). Overall the bullpen is pretty amazing, producing a 4.12 ERA en route to an 11-1 record while striking out 106 in 113 2/3 innings. But the pitching staff isn't the strength of this team.
Ty Wright, Griffin Benedict, and AJ Wirnsberger were all expected to great things this season (the latter two were named Louisville Slugger Pre-Season 3rd Team All-Americans), and they haven't disappointed, especially Griffin Benedict.
At one game this spring, I heard a fellow student shout "I want to be just Griffin when I grow up!" Don't we all. Over shadowed a bit by newcomer Ty Wright, fans hadn't forgotten about Grif, but some had forgotten what a player he is. He goes into tonight's game agianst Georgia Tech carrying a .412 average, with 4 HR and 6 2B in 97 at-bats, good for a .598 slugging % and a 1.118 OPS, stealing 5 bases as a catcher. Ty Wright had a banner year last year. He was featured as one of SI's Faces in the Crowd for hitting for the cycle in the first four innings of game three against Wofford last year. His blend of power and speed is something watch, and I love the energy in the air when he steps up to the plate with runners on, everyone knows something special is about to happen. When I say power and speed, I mean he has equal amounts of both. Last year he batted lead-off, and this year he's clean-up, alll with no noticeable change in weight of strength. He is a man, batting .340 after a slow start, but notching 7 extra base hits and swiping 8 of 9 bases so far, in addition to walking 21 times while striking out only 10 times in 94 AB. AJ got off to a slow start, but he does lead the team with 5 homers, all while committing only 2 errors all year while playing 3rd base. Some other names to note include Eric Phillips at 1st, with an avg/obs/slg/ops of .344/.438/.500/.938 in his first year of quality time, and Roman Grimaldi, cracking the lineup this past weekend and rewarding Coach Hennon with 3 HR in 20 at-bats this season, posting a .450/.542/.900/1.442 line thus far.
So tonight, the Eagles take on Georgia Tech in the away portion of out 4 game home/away series this season after splitting the first two meetings in Statesboro earlier this year. Good luck to the Eagles, carrying their first national ranking since the 1997 preseason poll, ranked #26 by Collegiate Baseball. Go Eagles!!! GATA!!!