Streaking On Base

Pitchers have seven more chances to stop the nation's longest on-base streak.

There are several roles that Zach George plays for the Arkansas State Red Wolves.

The senior infielder, ranks among the national leaders in batting average and on-base percentage, plays first and third for the team and has batted in several spots at the top of the Red Wolves’ batting order.

But perhaps the biggest role of the redshirt senior is teacher.

“I want our guys to watch him,’’ said A-State coach Tommy Raffo. “They need to see his approach.

“He's composed," said Raffo said of the Greene County Tech product. "You see him at the plate. It's the same routine, the same approach. He has an idea. He's what I call a little bit of a professional-type hitter.”

George, missed most of the 2013 and 2014 seasons with knee surgeries, does more than getting hits. He is carrying an on-base streak of 63 games, dating back to the finale of the 2012 season. That streak is tops in the nation according to unofficial statistics. The NCAA does not track on-base streaks.

“When I found out at first about the streak it was a lot on my mind,’’ said George. “And it did make me nervous at first. I just try to stick to my approach. I always want to get hits and do what is right for the team even if I have to move a guy over one way or another.

“It has gone on so long that I really don’t even think about it that much.”

The switch-hitting George carries a .382 batting average, ranking in the top 25 nationally, into this weekend’s Sun Belt series at Texas State. His on-base percentage is .522, which ranks third in the Division I. He leads the Sun Belt in hitting and on-base percentage.

“Some of it has been given to me,’’ he said. “Like tonight (against Central Arkansas) the first AB of the game I get a walk on five pitches. I've sometimes have found a hole and I don’t always hit the ball great. I just happen to get on.”

Five times this season he has extended the streak with a walk and four times a hit by pitch has kept it alive. With 12 HBPs he ranks among the conference leaders.

His approach varies from the pitching style on the mound.

“It depends upon the pitcher,” he said. “I’d say against a power guy I always want to get my bat head out and lower velo(city) guys makes sure I am on the ball and that I am seeing all the way through. That is more like later timing. For high velo guys want to get my hands out there get some barrel on it.”

The Red Wolves have seven regular season games remaining. He knows pitchers and teams want to be the one who ends it all.

“I don’t think there is any pressure on a pitcher. They are just out there trying to do what they do, make a pitch. I don’t think they are worried about me. It could be but I doubt that.”

“It is not a secret (to it). Coach Raffo just tells me to just be yourself. I just go up there and not think about anything I just go up there and hit.

It is easier to get it out the way (early in the game). I don’t think about it as much now.”

George had on-base streaks of 9 and 17 games his freshmen and sophomore seasons. As a junior he played 9 games when he was injured and last season he was on game number 10 when he went down.

He has been cleared for a medical hardship season to return to A-State next year if he desires. The Major League draft may determine whether he returns for another season.

“There are a lot of teams that really like him,’’ said Raffo.