For the last three weeks the speculation surrounding the Georgia Tech baseball team was whether they had done enough good work to warrant a top-eight national seed.
The Yellow Jackets received an emphatic — and perhaps surprising answer — on Monday when the NCAA baseball pairings were announced. A day after Tech finished second in the ACC Tournament, the Yellow Jackets were declared the No. 3 seed for the championship, behind only No. 1 UCLA and No. 2 Vanderbilt.
“I’ll say it this way,” Tech coach Danny Hall said. “Louisville won the regular-season championship. We beat them two out of three — at Louisville. NC State was third, so we beat them (Saturday). We have beaten (No. 4 seed) Georgia two out of three. We have a win over UCLA, a win over (No. 15) West Virginia.”
That doesn’t include two wins over Auburn, which was ranked most of the season, or two wins over Southern Conference champion Mercer.
Georgia Tech (41-17) will host a regional tournament in Atlanta. Auburn, Coastal Carolina and Florida A&M are the other three teams in the double-elimination event. Georgia Tech will open play on Friday at 7 p.m. against Florida A&M. Auburn and Coastal Carolina will start the tournament at noon.
The No. 3 overall seed has additional meaning. Tech would host a Super Regional, if it advances out of regional play. The best-of-three Super Regional determines the participants for the College World Series in Omaha. The Yellow Jackets are 24-9 this season at home.
This will mark the 32nd appearance in the NCAA tournament for Georgia Tech, the first since 2016. The Yellow Jackets are 63-52 all-time in the regional round and are 24-13 when those games are at Georgia Tech. This is the 11th time Georgia Tech has hosted an opening round game and the first since 2011.
“I would say we’re getting better,” All-ACC first baseman Tristin English said. “Obviously, as the year’s gone on, we started getting good. We were consistent the whole year.”
Georgia Tech is best known for its relentless offense. The Yellow Jackets are hitting .297 as a team, top in the ACC, and have hit 67 home runs. They have also scored double digits in 17 games.
All-ACC catcher Kyle McCann — no relation to longtime Atlanta Brave Brian McCann — has 23 home runs, two shy of matching the school’s single-season record, and 66 RBI. English is hitting .315 with 17 homers and 63 RBI. The other member of the power trio is second-team All-ACC outfielder Baron Radcliff, who has 12 homers, one that traveled a remarkable 471 feet.
Another key part of the lineup is a group known as “The Killer Dubs,” because all their surnames begin with a “W.” It includes second baseman Austin Wilhite (.270), third baseman Jackson Webb (.325), center fielder Nick Wilhite (.320) and shortstop Luke Waddell, the leadoff hitter who has reached base safely in 34 consecutive games and is batting .318.
The ace of the staff is two-time All-ACC pitcher Connor Thomas (9-1, 3.28), a left-hander who has won nine straight games. The team is also expected to get Xzavion Curry (4-2,4.08) back for the regional; the junior right-hander was third-team All-ACC despite missing the last month with a back injury.
Hall, named ACC Coach of the Year for a fifth time this season, is happy the speculation about seeding is over. The veteran, in his 26th season at Tech, is ready for the postseason to begin. Georgia Tech is seeking its first trip to the College World Series since 2006.
“Proud of what they’ve done all year,” Hall said. “Now it’s important that we get rest and then just get mentally and physically ready to go out this weekend.”