Patrick Long began his career at Georgia Tech as a starting third baseman. An injury to his hand playing summer ball didn't allow him to swing a bat. Long made the best of the situation and concentrated on his pitching. He has now become Tech's most reliable short reliever.
The opening game of the series with Illinois-Chicago was a perfect example of what Long has done for the Jackets this year. Long came in a worked two innings of perfect ball striking out five Chicago hitters. "I thought Pat Long threw the ball great," said Danny Hall. "He seems like he's strike one every time he comes in there, had a good breaking ball, and did a tremendous job."
Coming out of the bullpen, Long's goal has been to throw strikes. "The most important pitch is strike one," said Long. "If you get the first strike you're in control and can dictate the rest of the at-bat."
Long's breaking ball has been his money pitch. That was evident in his performance against UIC. "It was sharp," said Long. "Looking at some of their swings, I'm not sure if they were looking for the fast ball." Long tries to establish the fast ball which makes his breaking ball more effective.
The Jackets were coming off two tough weekends and it was important for the team to get a good start against UIC. "We wanted to get back on track after playing two tough opponents," said Long. "We just didn't play well the past couple of weekends."
Following those weekends the squad had the week off to face final exams. Did they look forward to the week off? "It was nice to recharge the batteries a little bit," said Long. "The season does wear on you and takes its toll; especially going on the road with the bus trips."
The switch to pitcher from an everyday player has not been an easy one for Patrick. "It's not where I want to be but I've accepted the role and that's the big thing," said Long. "The guys we've brought in here are very versatile."
While he's had a successful season, Long isn't worried about what the pro scouts may be thinking. "I don't think about that at all," said Long. "I was talking to a friend of mine who is a scout for the Nationals and he said that they look past middle relievers in college."
The Jackets have two big series coming on to close out the ACC regular season. This begins with a series with Miami next weekend. "I've been doing a little scoreboard watching," said Long. "I've been doing it for a couple of weeks because our division is really loaded." Long feels that the Jackets control their own destiny. Patrick Long will be a key figure for the Jackets in controlling that destiny.