Today, the Texas Tech baseball team will host Standford in a best-of-three Super Regional for the right to play in the College World Series. And before even the first pitch has been thrown, the Red Raiders look to have an advantage thanks to Mother Nature.
Today’s projected high temperature in Lubbock is a brutal 108 degrees. That will make temperatures on the field at Rip Griffin Park feel like they are well over 120 degrees.
Weather that severe is going to take its toll on any player and there’s no suggesting that the Red Raiders will not be impacted. But being somewhat accustomed to playing in higher temperatures should serve Tech well this weekend.
And consider how this heat may impact Stanford. The Cardinal have spent the vast majority of their season playing on the West Coast in 70-degree weather. In fact, during the regional they hosted last weekend, many players not in the game were wearing gloves and beanies to stay warm during the night games.
Certainly, Stanford won’t have experienced anything like the heat they will be facing this weekend (Saturday and Sunday are both expected to see temperatures rise into the mid-90s). Combine that with nearly 5,000 rowdy Red Raider fans and Dan Law Field could turn into a ring of fire for the Cardinal.
As for Tech, Tim Tadlock’s program has fared remarkably well in the Super Regional round of the NCAA Tournament. Going 4-0 all-time in this round (with all four appearances coming since 2014), the Red Raiders have amassed an 8-3 record in the Supers.
If the Red Raiders can claim two more wins this weekend, they will make their fifth College World Series trip in the last seven years (not counting 2020 of course). They would be the only program in the nation that would be able to claim that distinction.
What’s more, every Super Regional Tech has ever played under Tadlock has taken place in Lubbock. And in postseason play, the Red Raiders are an impressive 22-6 at home during his tenure.
Standford has never come to Lubbock before today and here’s wishing them nothing but the worst West Texas has to offer (at least as far as what happens on the field and with the weather). And for the Red Raiders to dispatch the No. 9 seeded Cardinal, these three players will have to step up their games.
What a rise it has been for Texas Tech true freshman Chase Hampton. After being a spot starter to open the year he’s progressed to the point that he was Tech’s opening starter in last weekend’s Lubbock regional and now, he gets the call in game one of the Super Regional.
But to give his team a shot a winning today, he will have to compare favorably with Stanford’s ace Brendan Beck. The senior righty is 8-1 on the season with a 3.00 ERA. He has struck out 115 hitters in 93 innings pitched and surrendered only 66 hits.
That means that Hampton will likely have to be at his very best today. But the good news is that the Kilgore, Texas native has been excellent as of late.
In fact, in his two most recent starts, Hampton has gone 12 combined innings (six in each start) and given up only two runs. Now, we must consider that those two starts were against Kansas and Army, two teams not nearly as dangerous at the plate as Stanford.
The Cardinal are hitting .279 as a team with six individuals hitting over .280 on the season. In fact, their team batting average is three points higher than Tech’s. What’s more, Standford has belted 73 homers on the year with three players having gone deep at least ten times already.
Thus, Hampton’s challenge today is significant. This will be the best lineup he’s faced in his life and he will climb the mound knowing that runs could be at a premium for his team if Beck is on his game.
Hampton must step up today and give Tech a solid start to prevent Tadlock from having to go to his bullpen early. If he can deliver another solid performance and Tech can pick up a win in game one, Standford will be in trouble given that the Cardinal do not have a deep rotation like the Red Raiders do. That’s why Hampton is one of the most important Red Raiders in this weekend’s series.