GASTONIA, NC – AUGUST 29, 2022 The Gastonia Honey Hunters have proven to be an unexpected force to be reckoned with. Their 2022 season has been nothing short of impressive for their second year as an organization. From clinching their spot in the South Division Championship and leading the Atlantic League for four consecutive weeks to breaking multiple records in one game, the Honey Hunters are having a breakout season.
In 2021, the Gastonia Honey Hunters began their inaugural season in the middle of a global pandemic, while simultaneously opening a brand new state-of-the-art multi-purpose sports and entertainment facility, CaroMont Health Park. Owned by Brandon Bellamy, the only African American majority owner of a professional baseball team in the country, the Honey Hunters have made history since day one from beyond the field.
In 2021, Honey Hunters ended the season with a 54-66 record, last in the Atlantic League with a .450 winning percentage. The team collectively earned 159 stolen bases.
Fast forward to 2022, where the Gastonia Honey Hunters have recently held the highest winning percentage in all of professional baseball across the world. In the last two weeks, the team had a winning percentage of .711 while the Los Angeles Dodgers held a .700 winning percentage at the same time. The next highest winning percentage in the country was .677, held by the Charleston River Dogs, the Single-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.
“Our primary goal in 2022, was to build a balanced attack. We feel like we have accomplished that across pitching, fielding and hitting. That has led to a lot of success this season and we look forward to finishing the year out,” says David Martin, General Manager of the Gastonia Honey Hunters since 2021.
Brady Salisbury, Assistant General Manager with the Honey Hunters who joined after the 2021 season, gave his thoughts on what was planned for 2022, “Our goal from day 1, was always be well rounded. Everyone knows how lopsided we were last year and that was shown by the overall record. This year, there was emphasis to be at least league average on all three aspects of the game: hitting, pitching and fielding. To this point in the season, we have done that and then some. Players buying in on the field and in the clubhouse have led us to having some of the best seasons in league history. We aren’t satisfied, the job is not done.”
In one game, the Honey Hunters broke two Atlantic League of Professional Baseball (ALPB) records. The Atlantic League Stolen Base record was previously held by the Somerset Patriots with 265 stolen bases in a season. The 22-year-old record was broken by the Honey Hunters with 266 bases stolen as of August 24, 2022.
The second record was broken by Jake Skole, an outfielder for the Honey Hunters. Skole became the first player to achieve back-to-back 20-20 seasons, securing him a spot in the “20-20 Cub.” This happens when a player earns 20 or more home runs and 20 or more stolen bases in a season. Jake Skole achieved this in 2021 and 2022 with the Gastonia Honey Hunters.
“We focused on building a pitching staff that had veteran leadership with versatility and added speed to our already powerful lineup,” says Mauro “Goose” Gozzo, Manager of the Gaston Honey Hunters since 2021.
These accomplishments in 114 games could be the last thing that baseball fans and commentators expected from the Gastonia Honey Hunters going into the 2022 season. However, the season is not over and there is more to expect with 18 regular season games remaining. The South Division Championship starts with Game One at CaroMont Health Park on Tuesday, September 20, 2022. As of now, the Gastonia Honey Hunters will face a wildcard opponent.