Welcome to another edition of First Pitch! In this installment, I will be looking into the last week’s worth of games including a 2-1 series win against the ranked Oklahoma Sooners and a road loss to the No. 7 Arkansas Razorbacks. This week had a bunch of interesting information including the number of pitchers used this weekend. Without further ado, let’s dive into the good stuff!
Pitching, pitching and more pitching!
This weekend, Coach Tadlock and company used a slew of pitchers. 16 pitching changes happened over the weekend, something that is rare over a four-game stretch. Let’s examine closer the two games where there were over 5 pitchers used, as on Saturday there were only two pitchers used and on Tuesday there were four pitchers used. Dylan Dusek led the team with three different appearances this weekend, with his only day off being the 12-5 win on Saturday. He totaled 3.1 innings of work allowing 4 hits and 1 earned run. Ty Harpeneau, John Henry Gonzalez, and Jose Quezada were used twice over the weekend as Quezada pitched five innings of no-hit ball, as he was easily the best relief pitcher this week for the Red Raiders. Quezada has been lights out for the team this season, posting a 1.71 ERA, the lowest of all pitchers with over 5 appearances on the team. All of the pitchers who usually get an appearance once every two weeks got an appearance this week as 15 different pitchers were summoned to take the mound this weekend.
The road is a dangerous place
This team has been amazing at home, only losing two games all season in Lubbock. The road, however, has played a huge factor in this team’s record. With the team’s road record now at 10-8, 80% of the team’s losses have been on the road. This 5-1 loss to the Razorbacks was a game where the team couldn’t beat the adversity as all of Arkansas’ runs were scored in the first and second innings. The Red Raiders should be able to score more than one run in a ball game with the type of offensive firepower they have. In that game, only the top three batters in the order got a hit, something that concerns me. If the team can’t get any production from the bottom of the order especially on the road, this team can and will have a hard time winning road games in the NCAA tournament if the Red Raiders manage not to get a top Regional seed, this could spell trouble for a team looking for a College World Series birth.
What will we get on Sunday?
This team has been the enigma of inconsistency on Sunday recently as the two of the last three Big 12 series could have been swept if not for a Sunday loss. This loss to Oklahoma and the blowout loss to Kansas are the two main games I am speaking of here. The Kansas series was especially surprising to me as the team was especially dominant in the first two games of that series before completely losing it on Sunday. Although I wouldn’t call the first two games of the Oklahoma dominant, it is still disappointing this team cannot finish off a sweep that will push them in the driver’s seat of the Big 12 title race. The team will need to sweep some teams in order to win the Big 12, starting with TCU this weekend. After that series, the Red Raiders will need to win series against both Oklahoma State and Texas to regain their seat atop the Big 12.
It would be remiss of me if I did not at least mention the balk-off that occurred on Friday night. As rare as a balk is in the game of baseball, the fact that one walked off a game is pretty special. So enjoy it Red Raiders, especially when it beats a team like Oklahoma. The credit for the balk really goes to the base runner, Josh Jung. Jung said he had the green light to steal home after the game. He timed it perfectly and faked stealing home. He jumped towards home and this is what made the pitcher, Cade Cavalli, hesitate and misstep causing the free pass for Jung and the win for the Red Raiders.
That is all I have for you all this week. Do you think this team will ultimately win the Big 12 championship? What do you think of the balk-off win on Friday and what do you think of all of the pitching changes this weekend? Let me know in the comment section below!