Texas Tech Baseball: Red Raiders remain undefeated heading to Houston

Texas Tech's Taber Fast (28) pitches against Gonzaga in game two of the baseball series, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, at Rip Griffin Park at Dan Law Field.
Texas Tech's Taber Fast (28) pitches against Gonzaga in game two of the baseball series, Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, at Rip Griffin Park at Dan Law Field. /

After 10 games of the 2023 season, the Texas Tech baseball team remains undefeated.  Now, the season’s first significant test awaits as Tim Tadlock is set to take his team to the Shriner’s Classic in Houston.

This past weekend, the Red Raiders hit the diamond for their second four-game series of the season as they took on the Western Illinois Leathernecks. Meanwhile, Tuesday and Wednesday saw the Red Raiders face the Air Force Falcons to wrap up the season-opening homestand. Coming in ranked 24th in the country, Tim Tadlock’s bunch looked to remain hot to start the year.

Game one against Western Illinois started sluggishly for the Red Raiders. Brendan Girton started his second game but allowed two runs in the top of the first inning. However, Tech fought back with some solid hitting from Kevin Bazzell and Austin Green. Each had three RBIs in the game. Tech scored four runs in the eighth and walked away with a dominant 11-3 win.

Saturday featured a double-header that was a runaway in the early afternoon, but a tight contest later that day. The Red Raiders jumped out to a 7-0 lead after just two innings in game one but the Leathernecks fought back to score six runs by the fifth inning while Tech went stale at the plate. Fortunately, in the bottom of that frame, a hit from Dillon Carter brought in Gavin Kash and Gage Harrelson double scored three more runs igniting an offensive explosion as Tech would plate four runs to retake the lead en route to a 24-9 victory and a 2-0 series lead.

Game two of the double-header saw far less scoring. After five innings, the game was tied at 4. Drew Woodcox came through in the bottom of the eighth, hitting a two-run homer to give Tech its first lead of the game. Western Illinois managed to score a run early in the top of the ninth and put a man in scoring position. With Trendan Parish on the mound, though, the sophomore struck out the final batter to preserve a 6-5 win and clinch the series.

Dressed in their Sunday best pinstripes for game four, the Red Raiders went looking for their second consecutive series sweep. Western Illinois jumped out to a 4-0 lead after two before Tech rallied for eight runs in the third thanks in large part to a Hudson White three-run homer. Five more runs came the in fourth to help boost the lead to nine. The Leathernecks came back to score four runs in the seventh, but it was not enough. Carter helped seal the win at the end of the eighth inning with a highlight reel catch to retire the side.

In all four victories, the formula Tech established during opening weekend carried over. Not only were the starting pitchers effective from the beginning, but the bullpen helped seal each win. A good example came in game four. Kyle Robinson and Ryan Free struggled early but found their footing to keep Tech within striking distance. Andrew Devine finished what they started with two no-hit innings to slow the Leathernecks’ rally.

The winning ways would then carry over to the season’s first mid-week series.  In game one against Air Force, the Red Raiders fell behind 3-1 in the middle of the second before White tied it up with a two-run homer. Tech continued to build its lead, tallying three more runs in the fifth inning. A Harrelson 2-RBI triple in the eighth gave the team a five-run lead and Damian Bravo once again closed the game in the ninth to preserve a 9-4 victory.

Game two quickly turned into a blowout. Tech led 11-3 after three innings and never looked back. The Red Raiders scored in every inning and swept the Falcons with an 18-5 victory to start the year 10-0. With three consecutive sweeps at home to begin the season, Tadlock could not have asked for a better start from his team.

The competition will heat up this weekend though as the Red Raiders will head to Houston for the Shriners Children’s College Classic at Minute Maid Park. Tech will face Rice on Friday, Michigan on Saturday, and No. 15 Texas A&M on Sunday. This upcoming weekend slate of games will be their toughest competition by far this season and will tell us quite a bit about just how good this young Red Raiders team might be.