I want to get one thing out in the open immediately. Take a deep breath Tech fans. Now do it again. There is plenty of season left and there is no need to have anyone calling for Tadlock’s job and the benching of anyone. For those of you who follow me @JackBellSports you know that there are times that I need to take a pause and just breathe, and this weekend was no different.
The Red Raiders had their work cut out for them this weekend having to play for the first time in almost a full calendar year, against three top ten teams from the SEC. Let’s dive into these games a bit and see what exactly went wrong, and what went right for the Red Raiders.
- Arkansas-L- 13-9. Saturday night the Red Raiders opened the year in a wild game that saw sloppy execution by both the Hogs and Tech. Patrick Monteverde got the start for Texas Tech and he shined in his first D1 start of his career going 4 IP 0 R 1 H 5 K throwing 64 pitches. That was the bright spot for Tech pitching on Saturday other than Hayde Key who threw 1 scoreless inning in the 8th. Tech issued 11 walks on the night to go with one hit batter, one balk (that was with the bases loaded so a run scored), six, yes SIX wild pitches (three in the ninth inning alone) and a passed ball. The Red Raiders used seven pitchers on the night including Monteverde. The bats meanwhile, didn’t struggle and Tech was able to capitalize on a few Arkansas mistakes as well. Cal Conley went 2 for 5 with 3 RBI and Braxton Fulford blasted a no doubt 3-run moonshot to Left in the bottom of the 7th that put Tech ahead 9-8 at the time. Arkansas scored 5 in the top of the 9th though and those pitching and catching woes I referenced reared their ugly head and really took their toll. This game was emotionally exhausting and it seemed like the lead changed every inning, as the crowd was rowdy and riled up for both schools, the game went into the wee hours of Sunday, and wasn’t over until around 12:40 AM. I’ll come back to the emotional aspect of losing this game in the 9th shortly.
- Ole Miss-L-5-4. This game was close the whole way. Ole Miss capitalized on two costly errors on two normally outstanding defensive players in Dylan Neuse and Cal Conley, and pushed across 5 runs with two outs in the bottom of the third. This would be the only inning Ole Miss would score all day, only amplifying how costly those mistakes ended up being. The difference maker in this one was hitting with RISP. Texas Tech finished 1-for-7 with RISP and Ole Miss was 3-for-6. Tech left 9 men on base in this one and just couldn’t find that big swing to pull even with the Rebels, despite multiple opportunities. Dylan Neuse homered off the foul pole and Nate Rombach went yard in his first AB on the year. A bright spot for the day was the pitching, which was a refreshing change from day one as Micah Dallas went 2 2⁄3 IP with 2 ER 3 H and 2 K’s with 2 BB. The largest bright spot in this one however, was reliever Brendan Girton. Girton, a freshman from Gage, Oklahoma was thrown into the fire and he pitched like it was just another day in the park going 3 1⁄3 IP 0 R 2 H & 4 K’s on 53 pitches. Well done Brendan, keep the good work. I will take the opportunity here to talk about that emotional loss from the night before. One thing I noticed in Globe Life on Sunday was the lack of excitement from the Tech fans/bench during the game. It wasn’t until Tech had the bases loaded with 2 outs in the top of the 9th that you really heard any excitement, and I attribute this the the loss the night before and playing late and having a quick turn around. It was a little eerie to be there and not hear the typical rowdy Tech fan base.
- Mississippi State-L-11-5. Welp. Late inning pitching does the Red Raiders in...again. This was a back and forth affair that was a little mix of what went wrong in games 1 and 2 coming back to bite Tech again. Poor late inning pitching and some late game errors that pushed a few runs across for the Bulldogs. Tech also failed to capitalize on getting runs across when needed, leaving a whopping 13 runners stranded on the base paths. Tech was going back and forth with the Bulldogs on the scoreboard for most of the game and were tied 5-5 going into the 8th inning, when an RBI double by Bulldog second baseman Scotty Dubrule put the Bulldogs up 6-5 and that is when things went from bad to worse for Tech as the bullpen lets in 5 in the top of the 9th that was scattered with an error and multiple hits and walks.
As we take a look back at the good and the bad, lets get the headache over with: The bad.
- A normally sound defensive team, Tech had five errors in three games this weekend. Attribute it to long time off or early season jitters, they happened and will most likely be fixed this week before Houston Baptist.
- One word, Walks. Tech surrendered 21 of them over 3 games, and that won’t help you win ballgames, plain and simple. Before anyone gets upset, yes a lot of the guys we threw this weekend are freshman and inexperienced, however when you are on the roster for Tech you need to be able to come in and play at the level you are capable of and 21 over 3 games is frustrating to say the least.
- While we are on the topic of pitching, Wild Pitches killed Tech as well, surrendering 10 of them over 3 games (there were a few that I thought were passed balls instead of wild pitches but anyway I digress), that won’t win games either, and these will most likely get fixed this week.
- Ninth inning pitching. Relievers gave up 10 runs in just 2 games in the ninth inning alone, look for some adjustments in that bullpen this week.
- My last troubling stat is the LOB or left on base category. 9 against Arkansas, 9 against Ole Miss, and 13 against Mississippi State. It is early but Tech HAS to find a way to score these guys in order to win games.
Now let’s get that bad taste out of our mouth with the good.
- If you take a look Tech struggled mightily in at least one aspect of each game, sometimes more than one aspect in some games, and had a real chance to win all three games against top 10 teams in the country, so you can imagine how good this team can be hitting on all cylinders. This team can and will battle all season.
- Cal Conley, who some didn’t think would even suit up this weekend due to a hand/wrist injury, started all three games and hit the ball extremely well, going 2-for-5 in all three games and finishing with 4 RBI on the weekend. Not bad for someone who had about a day and a half of full speed practice before these games.
- Starting Pitching. The starters (Monteverde, Dallas, Montgomery) for Tech looked sharp for the most part and were a bright spot for this team over the weekend.
- Braxton Fulford. Fulford also had 4 RBI this weekend, improving on his solid 2020. While possibly a little suspect behind the plate at times, he more than made up for it, being a reliable bat this weekend.
- Brendan Girton. Girton came on in relief of Micah Dallas on Sunday against Ole Miss and held a very potent lineup for 2 hits over 3 1⁄3 IP in his Tech debut.
Remember to take a couple deep breaths this week, it is still February and there are plenty of games left this season.
Remember to follow @vivathematadors for all of your Texas Tech sports updates and follow me @JackBellSports for baseball analysis this season.