Texas Tech and Their Road to Omaha

Hunter Redman about to crush a pitch - Anthony Grandino

For those who haven't been able to keep track of the baseball team throughout the season, here is your recap of what has happened and how the Red Raiders got to the College World Series

Texas Tech is on it's way to Omaha. After an exciting Regional and Super Regional, the Red Raiders have punched their ticket to Omaha and will face TCU, the team we love to hate. However, most of y'all probably aren't sure how we got to Omaha. It's not your fault though. Texas Tech baseball is hardly on national TV and a majority of y'all reading this don't have a Texas Tech TV account. Your only knowledge of the team is from the Regionals and Super Regionals when they were on ESPN. Luckily for y'all, I was able to go to plenty of games this year, and have a good idea of who this team is. So this post is simply a recap of what went on through out the season so you truly know this baseball team when they hit the diamond this weekend.

The season started off with little expectations. The Red Raiders finished middle of the pack the season before and were predicted to finish 8th in the Big XII this season. Tech fans where hoping to make the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2004. The first team Texas Tech had to face? #3 Indiana. The line-up looked different then today, as Alec Humphreys started in LF with Gutierrez in RF, Jake Barrios at 3rd and Matt Broadbent at 1st. The starting rotation had Moreno as the ace, with Matt Withrow and Chris Sadberry rounding out the rotation. Texas Tech was able to take 3 out of 4 games to win the series against the Hoosiers. Tyler Neslony ended up playing a big part in the victories, including a grand slam in Game 2. He would start every game after that series.

The Red Raiders didn't stop after that. They ended up winning the next 5 games and finished out of conference with an outstanding 15-3 record, with their other two loses coming to future NCAA tournament teams in Houston and Sam Houston State (they beat future #1 seed Rice). But  the wins did not come without difficulty. Texas Tech lost some of their starting line-up during the stretch. Proudfoot got hit during practice and remained out until the Texas series. Neslony injured his hand on another grand slam and was out until the Texas series as well. Conley was struggling and started losing playing time. However, those injuries though ended up being a blessing in disguise. Ryan Long was able to get starting time with Proudfoot out, while impact players like Anthony Lyons, Zach Davis and Stephen Smith got time in the outfield. In fact, Stephen Smith and even Hunter Redman started becoming full time starters. In the rotation, Dusek was getting valuable time as the 4th man, while Drozd, Taylor and Moseley saw plenty of relief opportunities. Guys were getting time and Texas Tech was winning heading into Big XII play.

And that's when Texas Tech started to struggle. They lost two close games to last place Baylor, along with losing the series to Texas and Oklahoma State with late 3rd game rallies by the opposition. The only positive in that stretch was taking two out of three from TCU. The Red Raiders needed to change a few things. They moved Moreno from the starting rotation to the bullpen and gave Ryan Mosley some starts. Dusek become a weekend starter instead of Matt Withrow. Corey Taylor started getting week day starts. Jake Barrios was moved down from the 3rd to the 6th spot, switching with Tyler Neslony. That's when the Red Raiders started clicking once again.

It started off with a sweep on Kansas State, which was much needed to get above .500% in the Big XII. That was continued with dominating sweeps against Prairie View A&M , Oklahoma and West Virginia. The only downside in that stretch was when red hot Kansas swept Texas Tech, but Tech was still able to finish the season on a 16-5 run and a 40-16 overall record. They found a constant player in the outfield in Devon Conley, the original starter, and established a well rounded rotation in Sadberry, Dusek and Moseley. Also, Humphreys and Long started getting more time at 3rd base.

Texas Tech was coming into the Big XII tourney hot. However, loses to Texas and Oklahoma cooled off the Red Raiders and cost them a chance at hosting a regional. They were given the 2nd seed to Miami's Coral Gables Regional, with #3 Columbia and #4 Bethune-Cookman rounding it out. The Red Raiders won the first game on a Gutierrez walk-off. Outstanding pitching from Dusek, Moseley and Smith gave the Red Raiders two wins against Miami to take Tech to it's first ever Super Regional.

Of course you know the rest. Sadberry and Dusek put on outstanding pitching performances to shut-out College of Charleston and give the Red Raiders their first ever College World Series berth. Hunter Redman made outstanding defensive plays in Game 1, while Conley made some of the best diving catches you'll see in your life in Game 2. Neslony was able to triple and hit home Smith in Game 1 and Kirsch hit a double to score Neslony in Game 2.

Texas Tech finished the season with one of the most prolific offenses in the Big XII, finishing 2nd the league with 384 runs and leading the league with a .287 AVG. As for pitching, Tech finished 3rd in ERA with an outstanding team ERA of 3.17 (the two teams with better ERAs are Texas and TCU). Finally, Tech finished 1st in the Big XII with a .981 fielding percentage.

Eric Gutierrez proved to be Texas Tech's best player, leading the Big XII in RBIs (58) , HRs(12) and Total Bases (132), along with being 3rd in Doubles, 7th in Hits and posting a .324 AVG. Adam Krisch won Big XII newcomer of the year, finishing 3rd in RBIs (51) and HRs (10), while leading in Doubles (21) and finishing 4th in totel bases. Tyler Neslony lead the Big XII with a .390 AVG and was 3rd in Triples (5). Stephen Smith finished the season with the 6th highest OBP at .414 and made the All Big XII freshmen team. Dylan Dusek finished 4th in ERA at 1.94 with Johhny Drozd finishing 5th with a 2.00 ERA. Tim Proudfoot went the entire season without an error.

As for the rest of the line-up, here's what you need to know about them. Byrant Burleson is a consistent defensive 2nd basemen that can also go for extra base hits. Ryan Long is a freshmen who has showed he knows how to play defense. Devon Conley is speedy center fielder who can bunt at any point in time and get on base. Hunter Redman is one of the best defensive catchers around who can also get on base when needed. Chris Sadberry is a consistent starter who constantly gets strikeouts and doesn't allow runs. Ryan Moseley is a hard throwing freshmen who loves to strikeout batters. Cameron Smith is a long reliever who can also start and get the job done.

Well that's the rundown of how the 2014 Texas Tech Red Raiders made it to College World Series. Hopefully we'll be celebrating a national championship in a few weeks, but getting here is amazing enough as it is. Tadlock has transformed this program and immediately turned us into a national championship contender. Now when you watch the College World Series this weekend, you'll know this team better and the path they took to get there. Let's kick some butt in Omaha.

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