CARROLLTON, Ga. – The West Georgia Tech Golden Knights baseball team entered the junior college national rankings for the first time in program history this week.
The Golden Knights (9-6) are No. 18 in the latest NJCAA Division 1 Top 20 baseball poll.
West Georgia Tech is the only Georgia Collegiate Athletic Association (Region 17) baseball team currently ranked in the Top 20.
“We are very proud of the accomplishments of our Golden Knights baseball team,” said WGTC President Dr. Skip Sullivan. “For them to receive recognition as a nationally-ranked program in just its third year of existence, and the second year as a Division 1 playing member, is quite an accomplishment. Coach (Todd) Pratt and his coaching staff and the young men that have been a part of our program the past three years have done a tremendous job on the baseball field and in the classroom.”
Former major leaguer Todd Pratt has built the program from the ground-up over a three-year period which saw the Knights excel as a club team its first season before joining the highest classification in junior college baseball, Division 1, in 2012.
“We appreciate the national junior college baseball community for recognizing us and placing us in the Top 20 poll,” Pratt said. “We could not have built this program so quickly without the support of Dr. Sullivan and (WGTC athletic director) Walter Dunson and the WGTC community. When I was given this opportunity three years ago, I truly believed it would lead to this. We hope to continue a tradition of success and represent West Georgia Tech and our region in a way that makes everyone proud.”
The Golden Knights have played a particularly difficult nonconference schedule against the likes of traditional powers Southern Union (Ala.), No. 5 Chattahoochee Valley (Ala.) and Chattanooga State (Tenn.).
A big reason for this year’s early-season success for the Golden Knights has been the strength of its starting pitching.
Returning sophomore Brad Bartlett, the ace of the staff last year, has a 2.77 ERA while leading the team with 26 innings pitched.
Freshman Chris Irwin (2.62 ERA) leads the team in strikeouts with 25 over 24 innings pitched.
Kyle Peals, also a freshman, has a 1.23 ERA while allowing just 16 hits in 22 innings of work.
Tyler Banks, a sophomore transfer from August State, has a team-best 0.87 ERA, and has given up just 11 hits in 20-and-2/3 innings of work.
West Georgia Tech will host No. 5 Chattahoochee Valley (13-0) Friday afternoon in Douglasville at 1:05 p.m.
The Golden Knights enter conference play next Tuesday as they begin a four-game series against Andrew College. Game one of the series is at Andrew on Tuesday with the final three games of the series set for Douglasville next Friday and Saturday.