Ross, drafted in the 12th round last year out of Louisiana State, is handling a GreenJackets staff that has battled with Savannah’s for best in the South Atlantic League. Entering the week, Augusta’s staff has a 2.88 ERA, which ranks second to Savannah’s 2.82.
As a college product, Ross was taught the mindset of calling pitches away, as many college hitters are unable to cover the outside part of the plate.
At the professional level, pitchers must be able to establish the inside part of the plate to prevent hitters from having easy access to outside pitches.
“The college game, you don’t pitch inside as often,” GreenJackets manager Mike Goff said. “In the pro game, you have to pitch inside. If you don’t, you’re going to get killed.”
Ross’ pitch calling is allowing Augusta pitchers to sequence, which tends to result in more weak contact and strikeouts. The GreenJackets have allowed only five home runs and are fourth in the league in strikeouts.
“For me, he’s the kind of guy who gets better the more he catches,” Goff said. “He’s done a much better job, and his game-calling has gotten a lot better.
“I think he’s starting to figure out when to take chances, when to go in. He’s a pretty smart kid. He figures things out quick.”
Ross got off to a tough start at the plate, but he’s entering the week on a five-game hitting streak. He’s making up for a lack of early-season hits by walking eight times in 74 plate appearances.
HONORING CHAMPS: The GreenJackets recognized the USC Aiken men’s basketball team Sunday by having the team sign autographs and throw out the first pitch.
The Pacers went 33-4 and won the NCAA Division II Southeast Regional before bowing out in the closing seconds of the Final Four this past season. The senior-heavy squad set numerous program records, including most wins.
The players lined up at Lake Olmstead Stadium and signed autographs prior to the game. They stood side by side on the field and threw out the first pitch together as GreenJackets players caught their throws.
“I think the support, as it has been all year, has been tremendous,” USC Aiken coach Vince Alexander said. “The community has been behind us 100 percent and has really shown their loyalty and support for our team. It’s been great.”
K’S FOR CAUSE: Kangaroo Express, a Southeast convenience store chain, is co-sponsoring the GreenJackets’ “K’s for Kids,” which benefits the Children’s Hospital of Georgia.
For every strikeout by a GreenJackets pitcher this season, Kangaroo Express will donate $1 to the hospital.
The GreenJackets are keeping track of the strikeouts by tacking a “K” to the railing at the top of Section 9 down the third-base line at Lake Olmstead.