Georgia Tech Pitching Shows Promise With Shutout Of Georgia
ATHENS, Ga. – Coming into this weekend’s rivalry showdown against No. 14 Georgia, it was Georgia Tech’s lineup that stood out the most and with good reason. The No. 19 Yellow Jackets came into the series averaging more than 10 runs per game, with Preseason Al-American Kevin Parada anchoring the lineup.
Two games into the series, Georgia Tech’s lineup has lived up to the hype. It scored 11 runs Friday night in an emotional win at a sold-out Russ Chandler Field and then on Saturday kept the runs coming in a 7-0 victory at Foley Field. The win clinched the series for the Yellow Jackets (10-1) ahead of Sunday’s finale at Triple-A Gwinnett.
While the offense has more than done its part this weekend, Georgia Tech’s pitching staff has also answered the bell. On Friday night, it was righthander Chance Huff, who held Georgia (8-2) to one run in seven innings. On Saturday, Zach Maxwell, Cody Carwile and Aeden Finateri combined for a four-hit shutout. It was the Yellow Jackets’ first shutout against Georgia since 2014.
Maxwell has tantalizing ability. Listed at 6-foot-6, 275 pounds, his fastball gets into the upper 90s and on Saturday touched 98 mph. But like a lot of big, young pitchers, he lacks consistency. Those issues showed up against Georgia, as he struck out seven batters in three innings, but walked six and gave up two hits.
Maxwell pitched out of trouble and twice got out of bases-loaded situations. But he needed 83 pitches to get through three innings that were full of high-stress situations. Coach Danny Hall said everything was just a little bit off for Maxwell on Saturday, but he battled through it well.
“Today was not his best day, he walked too many, but to his credit he pitched out of trouble,” Hall said. “When he needed to make a pitch, he made it, kept a zero up there on the board.”
In three starts this season, Maxwell is 1-0, 2.25 with 23 strikeouts and 11 walks in 12 innings. Georgia Tech will eventually need him to lock in and go deeper in games – twice this season he’s lasted just three innings – but the combination of his upside and a powerful offense to support him means that it can be patient while he works out some of the rough edges.
After Maxwell left the game Saturday, Hall turned to a pair of freshmen. Carwile, a lefthander, was the first pitcher called out of the bullpen and he worked efficiently for three innings. He faced the minimum, as Georgia Tech erased his lone walk with a double play.
Georgia had six lefthanded hitters in the lineup Saturday and Hall was pleased to see how well Carwile matched up against them.
“Carwile has ice water in his veins, nothing really shakes him up,” Hall said. “But I wanted to see it here today, see how he would react.”
Carwile passed the test and earned his first career victory.
Righthander Aeden Finateri followed Carwile with three scoreless innings of his own to complete the shutout. He struck out five batters, walked none and held Georgia to two hits.
Saturday was Finateri’s best outing of his career after starting in each of the first two weekends. He didn’t pitch past the fourth inning in either start, but on Saturday was efficient – needing 39 pitches to get through three innings. His fastball works in the low 90s and he paired it with a hard breaking ball.
Finateri pushed his way into the rotation to start the year thanks to an impressive preseason performance, as well as Marquis Grissom Jr. being banged up to start the year. But the bullpen might be the best spot for the freshman right now, particularly after what he showed against Georgia. It would also give Georgia Tech another righthander out of the bullpen – something the Yellow Jackets could use in support of closer Dawson Brown.
As Georgia Tech prepares to begin ACC play next weekend against Virginia Tech, its pitching staff is starting to come into focus. The Yellow Jackets are still working out the exact roles, but their key pitchers are establishing themselves.
Georgia Tech still has a long way to go, but it’s shown important progress this weekend. A shutout on the road against archrival Georgia could be the start of something for the Yellow Jackets.