Tech goes 2-1 on the weekend in the Houston Classic by knocking off two top 10 teams before dropping the finale to #18 Arkansas. The great thing about baseball is that one game does not make or break the season as it does in football and may in basketball. Baseball is about series and trends. Win series not individual games. If you do that, everything else takes care of itself.
Game 1 was against the University of Houston, ranked #9 in the country. Ryan Moseley pitched effectively enough going 5 innings again allowing only one run and striking out 3. The bullpen was outstanding only giving up an unearned run over 4 innings. As we will see in the Arkansas game, the defense may be the weakest part of this team. It won't show up on the box score, but it definitely leaves a young pitching staff out to dry and to take the brunt of the blame.
Takeaways: Smith continues to be a dominant force in the offense. He and Gut will need to carry the power portion of the lineup as no one outside of Naley has much HR power. His shot in the 4th was fantastic and this team will need more of it to make up for missed opportunities with runners in scoring position. Also, Moseley has to go deeper in games. Even with a talented bullpen, you don't want to rack up too many innings early. It tends to show up in the latter portion of conference play when it matters most. If you're the ACE of the staff, you need to be dominant over at least 6 innings and preferably 7. You know the bullpen will be taxed as you deeper in the rotation, so you need your ace to do work when his start comes.
Game 2 saw the Red Raiders over come a late inning deficit to score a run in the 9th and send the game to extras where they would eventually pull away. This was an excellent win over another top 10 team in #6 UL Lafayette. It's one thing to be up the entire game, it shows an entirely different mentality to erase a lead like they did against a quality opponent. Pitching did just enough to keep giving the offense opportunities. Again, some that were missed or not taken full advantage of, but they had enough to get the job done.
Takeaways: Another short outing by a starter only going 5 innings. Again, this is a pitch count issue not an innings issue. If you're at your PC in the 5th, you have to come out, I would just like to see a little more efficency from the starters and shorten the game for your young bullpen. Robert Dugger did a terrific job getting Tech to the ninth in striking distance going 2 and 2/3 without allowing a run.
Jonathan and I were talking on Friday night that we could see Tech taking the first two of the tourney and then drop the finale. That's usually how it goes in situations like this. Beat one top 10 team great. Have a come from behind, extra inning win over a Top 10 team the very next day and you are pretty sure to drop the finale. The game started about as well as you could hope, scoring 5 runs in the first and taking pressure off your pitcher. However, Damron's outting would be short lived even as he looked to be cruising early.
It's ok to drop on in a three game series as long as you win the series and that's just what Tech did. Take 2 of 3 every chance you can and split the 4 game series and you'll be set. A sweep here and there or taking 3 out of 4 and you're ahead of the game.
So far this team has shown how good it can be, at times, and at others their weaknesses come glaring through. They have more tough opponents in non-conference upcoming before they get into tough conference play. So far, 6-2 is a great start to the young season.