Texas Tech baseball: Red Raiders sent to Gainesville, FL regional

Texas Tech's second baseman Austin Green (20) gestures after hitting a home run against Kansas in game two of their Big 12 baseball series, Friday, May 19, 2023, at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park.
Texas Tech's second baseman Austin Green (20) gestures after hitting a home run against Kansas in game two of their Big 12 baseball series, Friday, May 19, 2023, at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park. /

After the Texas Tech baseball team picked up two wins to begin last week’s Big 12 Tournament, most were confident that the Red Raiders would hear their name called Monday as the NCAA Tournament field was announced. That assumption was upheld on Memorial Day as Tim Tadlock’s team made the tournament for the 7th year in a row.

However, advancing out of the first weekend will be difficult given that the Red Raiders are in a tough regional, one that is being hosted by one of the favorites to win the College World Series.  No. 2 overall seed Florida will be the heavy favorite to advance out of the Gainesville regional after posting a 44-14 record and a 20-10 mark in SEC regular-season play, good enough to secure the conference regular-season title in what is almost unanimously believed to be the best baseball conference in the NCAA.

With a .298 team batting average, the Gators have five hitters in their lineup that post an average over .300 while having at least 140 plate appearances on the season.  That includes slugger Jac Caglianone, a 6-foot-5, 245-pound left-handed hitting first baseman from Tampa, Florida.

On the mound, Florida is less impressive, though.  With a team E.R.A. of 4.87, the Gators tied for 7th in their conference.  Interestingly enough, Caglianone is also one of their three primary starters making 15 starts this season with a 4.14 E.R.A. and an overall record of 6-3.  No Florida starter has an E.R.A. below Caglianone’s meaning that Tech’s bats might be able to do some damage should they square off with the host team.

However, Tech will have to figure out how to get past UCONN first.  Ranked as the No. 2 seed in the Gainesville regional, the Huskies boast an impressive 43-15 overall record.

Now, on the other hand, to suggest that UCONN has played a tough schedule would be a lie.  According to warrennolan.com, the Huskies’ schedule strength ranks 83rd nationally with their opponents this year having a winning percentage of just 0.5236.  That’s 39 spots below the Red Raiders, a team that many fans also felt played too soft of a schedule this year, especially in the non-conference portion.

As each team headed to Gainesville this weekend is, UCONN is dangerous at the plate with a team average of .306.  But their pitching staff is suspect with a team E.R.A of just 4.86.

Rounding out the Gainesville regional will be No. 4 seed Florida A&M.  The Rattlers won the SWAC tournament title to reach the NCAA Tournament for just the third time in program history.

Having never won a game in the event, FAMU will be looking to stun the NCAA when they open up against the Gators.  They do have six regulars hitting over .300 and three hitters with at least 10 homers. However, their team E.R.A. is awful at 6.95, by far the worst of these four teams.

This is a regional that should feature plenty of offense given that no team in the field has a collective E.R.A. below 4.01 and that Tech and FAMU both come in at over 5.00.  Therefore, it might set up well for a Red Raider team that can slug with any team in the country.

However, to win games in the NCAA Tournament, teams must find some arms that can get people out in key moments.  Tech has struggled with that at times this year, as we saw when the Red Raiders were swept by Oklahoma State in Saturday’s doubleheader semifinal round of the Big 12 Tournament and when facing tough offensive teams as they will see in Gainesville, the Red Raider pitching staff will be challenged to say the least.

Tech isn’t going to be anyone’s pick to upset the Gators on their home field and make it to the Super Regionals.  But at least they have a shot to prove people wrong and in the postseason, all a team can ask for is an opportunity.