Friday is opening day for the 2020 Texas Tech baseball team so here’s a look at what to expect from this year’s Red Raiders.
For lovebirds around the world, Friday is Valentine’s Day. But for Red Raider fans, February 14th, 2020 is a much more important day on the calendar…opening day of the Texas Tech baseball season.
The season begins with the program’s first-ever game against Houston Baptist before Saturday’s double-header with HBU and Northern Colorado. Sunday, the opening weekend concludes with another game against Northern Colorado before Tech heads to the Round Rock Classic outside of Austin next weekend.
Tech enters the season ranked as high as No. 3 in the myriad of national college baseball polls. Thus, expectations for Tim Tadlock’s team are as high as they’ve ever been.
Entering his eighth season as head coach in Lubbock, Tadlock has a 285-152 overall record. What’s more, he’s claimed three Big 12 titles (‘16, ‘17, ‘19), five NCAA regional appearances and four trips to the College World Series (‘14, ‘16, ‘18, ‘19).
Opening day has been rather kind to Tech over the years, especially at home where the Red Raiders are 31-3 in home openers since 1985. But last year saw the season get off to a rather inglorious start.
Falling 9-4 to Oregon at Dan Law Field, Tech stumbled out of the gates. After scoring the first run of the afternoon in the bottom of the first inning, the Red Raiders gave up six unearned runs (three in both the top of the third and the top of the fourth).
Two more runs for the Ducks in the fifth inning and a run in the seventh were too much for Tech to overcome. For the game, Oregon racked up 15 hits, ten of which were singles.
Caleb Kilian was tagged with the loss, which was disappointing given the excitement for his junior season. As a sophomore in 2018, he had a 9-3 record with a 3.24 ERA on his way to earning first-team All-Big 12 honors.
Of course, Tech fans should keep in mind the lesson we learned from last spring; the baseball season is a marathon rather than a sprint. With 58 games on the schedule this year, there’s enough baseball to ensure that we are going to see our shares of highs and lows and we have to remember that the game-by-game urgency that we feel during football and basketball season is not healthy over the course of a baseball season, especially in the first month of the schedule when teams are working through the process of defining roles on the diamond.
Last year, after 9.5 innings of baseball, some Texas Tech fans were ready to walk the plank. That’s because, in the top of the first inning of game two, the Red Raiders were down 8-0 meaning they had been outscored by the Ducks 17-4 to that point in the season.
Fortunately, Tadlock’s team was able to battle back for a 12-11 victory on a classic West Texas day where the winds at Dan Law Field were whipping out to left field at 30 m.p.h. That was the start of a six-game winning streak that got the Red Raiders back on track and helped assuage the fears of a disappointing season.
It’s interesting to remember that the team which started 2019 so poorly in the first ten innings of the season would eventually come to be regarded as the best team in Red Raider history. Claiming the Big 12 regular-season title and returning to the College World Series for consecutive years for the first time in program history, Tech maintained its status as one of the truly elite programs in the game.
What’s more, the 2019 team’s ability to be one of the last four teams standing in Omaha (also a first for the program) has only served to elevate expectations for 2020 and many Red Raider fans think this could be the year that Tadlock claims his first National Title. Of course, there’s a long way to go until June and we’d be best served to enjoy the ride rather than focus on the eventual destination.
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So as we settle in for another season of Texas Tech baseball, let’s take a look at what we can expect from the 2020 team. As we do, we will quickly come to realize that this could be the most talented team to ever represent the Double-T on the diamond.