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Tech baseball faces toughest challenge of season against No. 6 Kentucky

The Wildcats have last year’s SEC Pitcher of the Year and two hitters who’ve already raked eight homers and 20+ RBIs each.

Texas Tech Baseball (TMacRaider)

No. 3 Texas Tech Red Raiders (9-0) vs No. 6 Kentucky Wildcats (12-2)

Game times

Friday: 3 PM CST (TV: SECN+)

Saturday: 12:00 PM CST(TV: SECN+)

Sunday: 12:00 PM CST (TV: SECN+)

Probable starters

Friday: RHP Davis Martin (3-0, 0.60 ERA) vs RHP Sean Hjelle (3-0, 0.92 ERA)

Saturday: RHP John McMillon (3-0, 1.69 ERA) vs LHP Zack Thompson (2-0, 5.52 ERA)

Sunday: LHP Dylan Dusek (1-0, 4.05 ERA) vs RHP Justin Lewis (3-0, 2.95 ERA)

Matchup

What a contest between two top-five programs. Friday’s matchup features two of the best pitchers in the nation with Davis Martin and his ridiculous 0.60 ERA suiting up for Tech, while Kentucky trots out last season’s SEC Pitcher of the Year in Sean Hjelle. It could end up being one of those 1-0 ballgames, but I don’t think Hjelle has seen an offense like Tech’s before. I’m not saying the Red Raiders are going to put up a dozen runs on 20 hits or anything, but let’s not write Tech off just because Hjelle has mowed through each non-power five lineup he’s faced this season.

Saturday’s matchup will be interesting. The numbers say Tech will win that game, looking at Thompson’s unimpressive ERA vs. McMillon’s high-90’s fastball and team-best opponent batting average (.148).

Dusek appears to be the Sunday starter this weekend, but you never know with Tech coach Tim Tadlock. It’d be the left-handed senior’s second start of the year. He’s still getting back into the rhythm of the college game after a career riddled with injuries, but he finally seems healthy. It’s just a matter of time before we see him return to the dominating form of his freshman and sophomore years.

Players to watch

Grant Little is off to a scorching start this year, hitting .442 with three home runs and 13 RBIs. It’ll be fun to watch him face off against the SEC’s finest pitcher today.

For Kentucky, there are two players who’ve already hit eight home runs each this year. That’s major power, right there. Luke Heyer, a 6’0 senior utility player, is hitting an insane .478 through 13 games this year with 20 RBis. Sophomore first baseman and catcher T.J. Collett, the other Wildcat to hit eight homers, is batting .375 with 25 (!) RBIs.

An interesting stat: Texas Tech has three players hitting above .400 with at least 40 at-bats. Kentucky has just one (Heyer). It’s all about depth, y’all.

Prediction

This series will reveal a lot about the makeup of each team. Tech’s strength of schedule has been relatively weak, all things considered, but Kentucky’s is arguably even weaker. In series like these, where really strong teams with exceptionally strong pitching play an equally gifted opponent for the first time, pitching usually takes the upper hand for the first two games and then things open up a bit more on Sunday. Here’s my prediction:

Friday: Texas Tech 2, Kentucky 3.

Saturday: Texas Tech 4, Kentucky 1.

Sunday: Texas Tech 8, Kentucky 6.

Poll

Who will win this series?

This poll is closed

  • 39%
    Texas Tech in a sweep
    (33 votes)
  • 44%
    Texas Tech 2-1
    (37 votes)
  • 2%
    Kentucky in a sweep
    (2 votes)
  • 13%
    Kentucky 2-1
    (11 votes)
83 votes total Vote Now