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Texas Tech looks to punch ticket to College World Series this weekend against Duke

The Red Raiders will be looking to advance to the College World Series for the third time in program history.

The Texas Tech Red Raiders will host a Super Regional, hosting the Duke Blue Devils in a 3-game battle for a spot in the College World Series. Duke is coming off of playing five games last weekend, something that could play in the Red Raiders’ favor as the boys from Lubbock only played the minimum, three, over the weekend.

The Duke Blue Devils won the Athens Regional by winning four straight games in three days after getting shut out by the Troy Trojans by a score of 6-0. They came back beating Campbell by a score of 16-8, Troy by a score of 15-6, and Georgia twice by scores of 8-5 and 8-4 to win the tournament.

Duke has a main trio of starters that they rely on and Texas Tech will see a heavy dose of them over the weekend in Lubbock. The first of these is Ryan Day. Day he has started thirteen games with a record of 5-4 and a 5.05 ERA over 66 innings this season. The senior right-hander has been a mainstay in this rotation for two years now though, in his only appearance of the in the Athens Regional, he only lasted 2.2 innings and allowed four runs in that time.

The next starter is Ryan Laskey. The sophomore left-hander has started in 15 games this season and has a record of 6-4. He stands at 6’3, has a fastball that reaches the low 90s, and he has struck out 61 batters this season to the tune of a 5.47 ERA. He also made one appearance in the Regional Round, not lasting an inning and allowing four runs. The Duke offense earned Laskey a no decision by bouncing back and scoring 15 runs that game against Troy.

The final starter is Mitch Stallings. He has started 17 games this season, the most on the team. He also leads the team in strikeouts with 97 and innings pitched with 88. He has a 4-5 record and a 6.01 ERA. The 6’2 left-hander was drafted by the Atlanta Braves in the 30th round. He will potentially be teammates with two Red Raiders, Ty Harpneau and Ryan Shetter. Stallings was the hero this past weekend for the Blue Devils as he pitched 11 innings in two appearances as he lasted 4.1 innings in his first appearance against Campbell, giving up five runs.

In the final game of the Regional, Stallings came in and pitched 7 innings of relief. He allowed three runs and threw 114 pitches, bringing his weekend total to 185. He is the most fatigued pitcher on this staff and he will start the first game of this series on Saturday.

The three starters don’t put up very impressive numbers, I think the Red Raider offense has a great chance to get an early lead on this team. This bullpen, however, is a different story. Duke has five excellent relievers that come in and shut the door. All five of these guys have ERAs under 2.50, an excellent achievement for an entire core of your bullpen. They are led by Graeme Stinson, who has a 4-1 record and a 2.09 ERA. He has pitched 56 innings out of the pen and has made 22 appearances.

The pitcher with the lowest ERA on the team is also its third baseman, Jake Lobosky. Labosky has an ERA of 0.71, a very impressive mark, and has also started all 60 of the team’s games in the infield. He has a 3-0 record and pitched 5 total innings this weekend as he pitched three flawless innings in the fourth game of the Athens Regional. He also started the final game of the series, going two innings allowing no hits. He is their best player, playing both third base and pitching.

Offensively, the Blue Devils are led by Zach Kone who leads the team with 74 hits on the year. The shortstop is batting .289 and has 38 RBI on the season. Rightfielder Griffin Conine is the team’s best power hitter. Batting .278, he leads the team with 18 home runs and 52 RBI. First baseman Joey Loperfido leads the team in batting average as he hits .309 and has 40 RBI on the season. These three will be looking to lead the Blue Devils in most major batting categories throughout this series.

The Red Raiders will be countering with three many great pitchers of their own. It has been announced that the duo of Dylan Dusek and Ryan Shetter will pitch the majority of the first game and allow fill-in pitchers such as Connor Queen to finish the game if need be. The second game will be started by Caleb Kilian most likely. He will get the ball with the opportunity to go six or more inning of work before Ty Harpneau or Jose Quezada come in relief of him. In games where Kilian pitches, Coach Tadlock will only use one reliever. Davis Martin will start the remaining game if needed.

The Red Raiders have a great home-field advantage in this series. The team will be looking to take care of this series quickly, and I believe that Coach Tadlock and company will have them focused to take care of business this weekend, whether that be in two or three games. Tech also has an advantage with their bullpen being more rested, and their starters only having one game apiece on in the last week compared to some Duke pitchers pitching two times over the last weekend.

Do you think the Red Raiders can advance to the College World Series? Let us know in the comment section below!