Above: Matthew Gorst (left)  and Brandon Gold (right) make a formidable 1-2 punch for the Georgia Tech pitching staff. (Photos by Danny Karnik/Georgia Tech Athletics)

With just over half the season in the books, the Georgia Tech baseball team is off to one of its best starts since the Yellow Jackets’ 2006 run to the College World Series.

Besides boasting a powerful offense with seven starters batting over .300, the Jackets (23-8 going into a rivalry game with Georgia on Tuesday night, April 12), who have been ranked as high as 18th this season, have a stellar pitching staff that features Jewish high school teammates Brandon Gold and Matthew Gorst.

Gold, the Yellow Jackets’ No. 1 option in the starting rotation, has been lights out this season with a 2.28 ERA and 4-1 record in eight starts. Gorst, the team’s closer, has eight saves and a 0.46 ERA in 16 appearances out of the bullpen.

“We’re a bunch of brothers,” Gold said. “You can see the cohesion on and off the field. When we’re not on the field, we’re hanging out with each other. It’s a great group of guys.”

The 21-year-old is the son of Barry and Kathy Gold, who are mainstays at Tech home games. He attended the Davis Academy for middle school and went on to Johns Creek High School, where he was a four-year baseball letter winner and a Louisville Slugger first-team All-American.

After cracking the weekend starting rotation as a sophomore, the 6-foot-3 junior has established himself as the team’s Friday night starter.

“Brandon is an outstanding baseball player and an outstanding person on top of that,” said Georgia Tech’s head baseball coach, Danny Hall. “He can do a lot of things on a baseball field and is certainly a key guy for us as we try to move through our season. We’re counting on Brandon to carry a big load.”

Fellow junior Matthew Gorst catapulted himself into the role of team closer this season after making 26 relief appearances in 2015 as a sophomore with a 4.81 ERA. In 2016, the 6-foot-1 Gorst has allowed only one run on nine hits while striking out 28 in 19 2/3 innings.

The 21-year-old right-hander said the improvement this season can be attributed to a recently developed cut fastball, improved command and newfound mental toughness.

“I think mentally I’m a lot stronger than I’ve been the past two years,” Gorst said. “I was always afraid to fail rather than trying to succeed. This year I’ve been having the mindset that I can get people out, and it’s worked so far.”

Growing up with Jewish mother Debbie and Christian father David, Gorst attended Congregation Dor Tamid. His parents are also regulars at Georgia Tech baseball games, although Gorst said they don’t come quite as often as Gold’s parents. Their hands are full with his three younger siblings, sister Sydney and brothers Trevor and Kameron, who also play a variety of sports.

Like Gold, Gorst was a four-year baseball letter winner and a Louisville Slugger All-American at Johns Creek High. He graduated as the school’s record holder for most innings pitched in a career, most wins in a career, and single-season and career strikeouts.

“Brandon and I, we are definitely buddies,” Gorst said. “We hang out off the field as well. We didn’t just play high school ball together, but we also played summer ball, so I’ve been around him for a long time.”

In the offseason, Gorst and Gold enjoy playing golf and relaxing at the pool or beach. Gold is a fishing enthusiast, and Gorst is a self-proclaimed college football fanatic.

With 24 games left in the regular season, Georgia Tech remains at the edge of the Top 25 and in position for a bid to the NCAA Division I baseball tournament. As college juniors, Gold and Gorst are eligible for June’s 50-round Major League Baseball draft and have a good chance to be picked as the top starter and closer at a strong college program.

“I want us to go to Omaha,” Gorst said, referring to the home of the College World Series. “If I can help our team win, that’s awesome, but I want to go to Omaha. The last few years have been disappointments for how much talent we have, and I think this team has what it takes to go the distance.”