Since the beginning of the season, the biggest question mark has been this young Red Raider pitching staff. With a staff led by a trio of Freshman, the answer has been a resounding "yes". Davis Martin, Steven Gingery, and Erickson Lanning have all shown they have what it takes to dominate not only a game or a series, but a season. Martin going 9-0 in conference play, Gingery showing shut down stuff in a critical Game 2 during Super-Regionals and who could forget the unbelievable two hit performance by Lanning in Game 3.
However, even with the dynamic Freshman Trio leading the way, the pitching staff as a whole hasn't been the best. At times looking unhittable and in others looking less than mediocre. Ranking 5th in the Big 12 in team pitching at 4.16, the pitching staff is doing it's best, but the lesson learned by Texas Tech in their first go around in the College World Series is that even with the best pitching, there is no substitute for offense.
In Game 1 of the 2014 CWS, the Red Raiders faced off against the same foe they get this Sunday, TCU. TCU downed Tech 3-2, in which all of Tech's runs came during a furious 8th inning to take the lead 2-1. The rest of the game, Tech's offense was stifled by a tremendous pitching performance by Preston Morrison who allowed only one run over 7 1/3. In Game 2, hits were still few and far between as Tech manages just 1 run and loses to Ole Miss in walk-off fashion 2-1. So the question now is, will the potent lineup of 2016, with a CWS under their belt, show up and help the young freshman find a rhythm and take the pressure off?
This Red Raider team has a record 10 players taken in the MLB draft this year, including, Eric Gutierrez, Tyler Neslony, Stephen Smith, from the heart of the Tech lineup. Along with Tanner Gardner, who leads the Big 12 in hitting at .382, and Senior Cory Raley who is 4th in the Big 12 in RBI's at 53, this may be the most complete lineups in Tech history. Yes it is true that good pitching beats good hitting, but if this team is to make a run at the first Tech National Championship in a major sport since 1992, the offense has to show up and then some.
Texas Tech is second in the Big 12 in hitting (.294) only to, who else, TCU (.304). TCU also leads the conference in pitching with an impressive 3.17 ERA (a full run lower than Tech's team ERA). Throw the regular season out the window... along with the conference tournament. In a one game playoff, anything can happen. The averages of a series mean nothing and where the trickiest of hops and most insignificant of plays can mean the difference between sitting pretty and facing elimination.
Smith, Gutierrez, Gardner, Raley, Neslony, Davis, Garcia, Hargrove, Floyd.
It's up to you.
Lead the way.
Time to be the team you're capable of being.
Bring it home.