This past weekend, the Texas Tech baseball team was truly tested for the first time this season in Houston at the Shriners Children’s Classic. Coming into the tournament ranked 24th in the country, Tim Tadlock’s squad was looking to prove how much of a contender it is this year. A tough first day, followed by a bounce-back Saturday and endurance test on Sunday left Tech leaving Houston at 1-2 before rebounding at home against New Mexico on Tuesday.
On Friday against the Rice Owls, neither team could score until the fourth inning when Rice scratched across two runs. The Red Raiders only had four hits for the entire game, a season-low but the runs finally started coming in the seventh when Drew Woodcox scored on a wild pitch. Hudson White then scored on a sacrifice fly to tie the game at two. It did not take long for Rice to get the lead back, though, as they scored in the bottom of the inning and held on for a 3-2 win, giving Tech their first loss of the season.
Saturday’s game against Michigan was headlined by a great performance on the mound by Mason Molina. He had a career-high 11 strikeouts in six innings pitched. Thanks to Molina, Tech got rolling early against the Wolverines. A 5-0 lead after two innings paved the way to a 10-7 victory. Austin Green stood out at the plate, hitting two triples to earn two RBIs.
Any Red Raider baseball fan who stayed up to watch Sunday night’s clash against No. 15 Texas A&M had a perfect excuse to call in to work on Monday. A 7 P.M. start, this game lasted over five and half hours with 16 innings played. Per Texas Tech Athletics, this was the longest game in program history since March 3, 2015 against Abilene Christian. Tech trailed 1-0 through five innings before Dillon Carter hit a 2 RBI single to give them the lead.
The Red Raiders held that lead until the top of the ninth when Damien Bravo walked in the tying run. After failing to score in the bottom of the frame, extra innings ensued for the Red Raiders. Hopefully, this was the point when fans brought out the coffee because it was needed.
Kyle Robinson took over to begin extra innings and tossed six shutout innings, but the Red Raiders could not capitalize in the bottom of those innings. By this time in the evening, both teams were spent. Jacob Rogers took over on the mound and gave the lead back to the Aggies. Texas A&M scored on an error then on a sacrifice fly to lead 4-2 heading into the bottom of the 16th. The two runs all but sealed it and the Red Raiders were handed their second loss of the year.
The most glaring statistic from this game is that Tech left 17 runners on base. The bullpen also had a rough day with 16 walks. When those two things happen in baseball, it makes it hard to come out on top.
Heading into the new week, Texas Tech found themselves out of the Top 25 national poll following their 1-2 record in Houston. Tadlock and company had little time to dwell on the losses though, facing New Mexico back home on Tuesday. Needing to respond after a heavy endurance test, that’s exactly what happened.
While the Lobos scored first in the second inning, Tech took little time to respond. Carter continued his dominant season with an RBI double that scored two. In the fourth, Kevin Bazzell stepped up once again by bringing two more runs before Ty Coleman hit an RBI single to give the Red Raiders a 6-2 lead after four.
New Mexico got a run back in the seventh when Lenny Junior Ashby homered to right field off of Trendan Parish. The sophomore recovered, though, and turned things over to Andrew Devine in the ninth. The closer delivered and Tech won 6-3 to improve their record to 12-2.
Now, the Red Raiders will remain at home for the next eight games. Friday begins a series against Iowa before UT Arlington comes in for a two-game mid-week series. Next weekend marks the start of Big 12 play as they will face Oklahoma State.