The clock had struck 9, I was in full panic “State Postseason” mode and maybe, just maybe had had a six-pack already in me while waiting for first pitch. There were moments during the game that I was exhausted just from nerves. Over the next two hours, however, I had convinced myself of one thing; Reid Johnston is the Wolfpack’s MVP.
Prior to the season starting, the guess would have been Tresh. At points throughout, Butler or McDonough would have been easy choices. Going 8 innings in a one-run game with an ACC semifinal birth on the line? Johnston all but solidified it, in my mind.
We’ve said it once and we’ll say it over and over until the problem gets fixed; State Baseball will only go as far as this starting pitching rotation can go. Like literally, how far into games can these guys go? Johnston is the keystone piece of that pitching crew. His 7-2 record is nice, but looking at his full body of work, his impact is so much more. In 13 appearances, State is 9-4…and it could be better.
In those four losses, Johnston really only had one bad outing against Clemson (7 innings, 8 ERs). But his other three? Gave up 2 ERs to Georgia Tech, 1 ER to Louisville, and 3 ERs to #7 Notre Dame. So 13 games, 12 quality “Let’s score some runs and win this thing” outings.
Stats on Stats
In terms of ACC rankings, Johnston is top-ten in:
- Opponent Batting Average (.227 and all but two pitchers ahead of him have more innings)
- Doubles and Triples Against
- Complete Games
Although two of his counterparts were ACC Pitcher of the Week (Villaman and Willadsen), somehow Johnston didn’t make one. His Third-Team ACC is ridiculous. I won’t say he’s First-Team, because I’m a realist, but easily should have been Second-Team (we really going to include multiple sub .500 pitchers in there?).
If we’re being honest, and I’m not going to say ANYTHING about future games for the Pack, just that Thursday night’s game against Pitt was a 1000% State “uh oh” trap game. They swept the ranked Panthers at their place, know they just have to beat them to advance, then the wheels fall off. Yes, that thought went through my mind a couple times last night. Pitt had bases loaded situations, close calls by umps, but the one constant was Reid Johnston’s chill factor.
Going over a hundred pitches with 10 strikeouts (about four of them ULTRA timely) and never really having a sense that he wasn’t hitting his spots, Johnston single-handedly won the game for the Wolfpack. It was a performance that was much needed in the journey to “get over the hump” for State baseball.
I just hope we can see him win a couple in the NCAAT. wink, wink