First things first: I’d like to congratulate the Red Raider Basketball team on a great season. I know it wasn’t how we wanted it to end but you guys still made our school proud; so congrats to Coach Beard and his players and staff.
Now on to Baseball.
This series this past weekend at Dan Law Field against Oklahoma State lived up to all the hype and then some. All three of these games were pitchers duels and runs were scarce at times making defense all that more important. In the end, Texas Tech took two of three games this weekend for a huge series win against some of the best the Big 12 has to offer in the squad from Stillwater. There were plenty of accolades to go around for both teams, as the Cowboys threw what in my mind will be some of the best arms the Red Raiders will see all season. Lets see how the games went and what led to a series win.
Oklahoma State 2- Tech 0
This was the real pitchers duel of the weekend with Tech’s Brandon Birdsell going against OSU’s Parker Scott. This was by far and away Birdsell’s best outing in a Red Raider uniform, going seven innings giving up just two hits and two runs with only one being earned, while striking out nine Cowboys. It is unfortunate that he went up against the Cowboys’ ace in Scott who has shined all year, and Friday was no different as he went seven innings giving up no runs on six hits and also striking out nine Red Raiders.
Runs were obviously at a premium in this one and in a game that was very short in baseball terms, at two hours and 45 minutes, the Red Raiders just couldn’t get the bats going when they needed it most, going 0-for-8 with RISP and leaving 10 men on base in this one, a stat that has given Tech some issues this season. It is worth stating that both starters in this one were incredible and both went as far as they could with Birdsell throwing 94 pitches and Scott tossing 106.
Tech 4- Oklahoma State 2
The Red Raiders evened up the series on Saturday in a game that was highlighted by the defensive play of freshman second baseman Jace Jung. It seemed that every inning the Red Raiders were in the field Jace was making an outstanding play in the field to keep the Pokes off the base paths. Patrick Monteverde was on the mound for Tech and it’s becoming a common trend that when he is on the mound, he throws a gem.
Saturday was no different as he went six innings giving up one run on six hits while striking out three. If it wasn’t before, it is very apparent why Patrick received offers from over 40 other schools before choosing Texas Tech and transferring to Lubbock. OSU threw Justin Wrobleski and the Red Raiders benefitted off of an error by the Clemson transfer when Cal Conley laid down a sacrifice bunt in the fourth inning to advance the runners on base, when Wrobleski promptly air mailed the first baseman on his throw and the ball got all the way to the right field wall letting both runners score and allowing Conley to advance to third, and then score when Braxton Fulford drove him in on a groundout to short in the next at bat. Micah Dallas relieved Monteverde and threw three innings giving up one run on three hits while striking out five and picking up the save. Tech fans were no doubt wondering when or if they would see Dallas on the mound this weekend and in what capacity he would be used, and this seems to be the role for him for now as he was rock solid as always.
Tech 6- Oklahoma State 5
On Sunday, the Red Raiders clinched the series in a game that featured more runs than the first two games combined. Ryan Sublette picked up the win in relief throwing two and two thirds innings allowing no runs on two hits while striking out five. Derek Bridges picked up the save in a dicey ninth inning as he inherited a bases loaded jam with a 2-0 count in a one run game. Bridges came in and promptly struck out Justin Campbell, who had a rough day for the Cowboys going 0-for-5 with five strikeouts. Connor Queen started the ninth and got two outs but then the wheels came off for the bullpen as two men got on base when Brendan Girton was brought in to get the final out, however that didn’t happen as the normally reliable Girton had trouble finding the strike zone.
After two runs had already scored, one on an error by Girton and the other by walk, two balls into the at bat for Campbell is when Tadlock had seen enough and went to Bridges out of the pen. This has been an unfortunate calling card of sorts for this bullpen this year as the common term heard in the stands of Dan Law Field is ‘inconsistency’ when it comes to this bullpen. Tech is extremely lucky to have gotten the win in this one and the bullpen escapes a disaster thanks to Bridges. On the positive side Jace Jung was 2-for-3 including an absolute bomb to right field that landed on the track at Fuller Track & Field Stadium next door. Jung was hitting cleanup in a different batting order than people have been accustomed to seeing this season from the Red Raiders.
Neuse led off followed by Cal Conley, then Dru Baker who has led off all year was in the three spot followed by Jung and then Rombach hitting fifth. The lineup was to move some guys around to get better situations and more hits, as well as Neuse and Conley having two of the higher on base percentages on the squad.
The Red Raiders bounced back after Friday’s loss that snapped a 14 game win streak, to win the next two to take the series, which again shows this teams’ resolve to not give up or quit. Any time the Cowboys come to Lubbock we are in for a heck of a series and that is exactly what we got in three of the best games we’ve witnessed at The Law this season. Tech made great defensive plays over the weekend and while the scores don’t necessarily reflect great hitting, the bats stayed hot on Saturday and Sunday.
I have to give love right now to the starters for the Red Raiders this weekend. Birdsell, Monteverde, and Montgomery were great in their starts, really highlighted by Birdsell. His outing was phenomenal and although he picked up the loss, that performance yields a win nine times out of ten. Micah Dallas was a stud in relief of Monteverde on Saturday just further solidifying the fact he is the anchor of the bullpen, when he is out there. Jace Jung, Dru Baker, Dylan Neuse, Cal Conley, and Braxton Fulford shined this weekend across the board and showed why they are the faces of Texas Tech Baseball.
This team is just getting started and I can’t wait to watch these guys battle and play as they try to get back to Omaha for the third straight season.
The Red Raiders continue this long home-stand with a three game series this coming weekend against the South Florida Bulls. The Bulls have a game on Tuesday against North Florida but right now they have a 9-8 record on the season and have yet to play a ranked team or play outside of the State of Florida this season.
Baseball season is now in full swing so be sure to follow @vivathematadors for all of your Texas Tech Sports coverage, as well as, @JackBellSports for Red Raider Baseball analysis all season long.