The first game of the Regional round for the Texas Tech Red Raiders will be played against the New Mexico State Aggies. The Aggies come in with a 40-20 record and were recently crowned the champion of the Western Athletic Conference. They will be a tough out in this tournament, even though the Red Raiders have already played and beaten the Aggies twice.
The Aggies are led by the 6-4 junior Caleb Henderson. He is leading the team with 60 starts in the infield, 75 hits, 63 RBI, 19 doubles, and 10 home-runs. He is the best player on this team, and will be their best chance to win this regional. Nick Gonzales is also another great player that the Aggies will rely on this weekend. Gonzales is hitting .349 with 65 hits and 9 home-runs.
Although we do not know who will start for the Aggies Friday, we do know that they have two pitchers who helped them win the WAC conference championship in Kyle Brandish and Jonathon Groff. Groff led the team with 11 wins and a 2.49 ERA in 15 starts this season. He has also pitched 97 innings over the year. Brandish is 9-3 and got the win last week against Sacramento State to seal the WAC championship. Brock Whittlesley is the Aggies’ best closer, as he has 12 saves on the season and is the team’s main closer. He is 3-4 on the season, pitching 60 innings and has held opponents to a .279 batting average.
The Red Raiders will need to have their offense at full speed to win this regional, this game being no different. All-Americans Josh Jung and Grant Little will need to lead the way for this team. They will need contributions for everyone on the team. If the Red Raiders can score 8 runs or more, I feel comfortable saying the team will win this game.
In the two previous match-ups this season, Tech only allowed 1 run. This pitching staff will be good to go against this team. I believe that Ryan Shetter or Dylan Dusek will get the first crack at the Aggies on Friday. Also look for John Henry Gonzalez and Caleb Freeman to get opportunities to pitch in this game.
I think the Red Raiders can pull this game out. The experience of the two games earlier in the season combined with the small bit of rest the Red Raiders have gotten after only playing three games last week will lead to a Red Raiders win.