Well, what a weekend.
The Red Raiders righted the ship this weekend in a very big way against the #10 TCU Horned Frogs, taking two of three games and really getting back into the Big 12 race after the meltdown in Manhattan a week ago.
So how did it go down and what are the storylines? What am I looking at over the next couple of weeks? Lets get down to the nitty gritty.
Tech 3- TCU 7
Tech lost the first game of the series on Friday night, and if you take away the first inning, I’m not so sure the Red Raiders don’t sweep this series. TCU pushed across six runs in the top of the first, making Friday a rough start for the new rotation, and starter Micah Dallas. In that inning, Tech struggled getting outs and TCU batted around, needless to say things were not too positive to start.+ However, Dallas remained in the game and settled down, only allowing two hits after the first inning in four innings of total work. In relief of Dallas, was the Sunday starter for most of the year, Mason Montgomery.
After having some struggles this year, Montgomery came out of the bullpen on Friday and was absolutely excellent. He threw five innings of relief only giving up one run on one hit, the run was un-earned. It was quite simply the best Mason has pitched all season and it is a good sign going forward as he will most likely be inserted back into the rotation after this weekend, but we’ll get to that in a bit.
The bats for Tech were a little quiet, other than Jace Jung, which was also a common trend for the weekend, as Jung homered and singled to drive in two runs on the night and Kurt Wilson doubled and tripled as the Frogs’ starter, Russell Smith threw an impressive game and really limited Tech on offense.
Tech 6- TCU 5 (10 innings)
On Saturday Tech won in 10 innings on a walk-off home run from Cal Conley, and Patrick Monteverde got back to his old self, as the Red Raiders snapped their three game losing streak and ended TCU’s 11 game winning streak. Monteverde had a good game as he went five and a third innings, while giving up five runs on six hits and striking out six. Four of those runs came on one swing of the bat in the fourth inning when TCU DH Hunter Wolfe hit a no doubt grand slam that hit off of the guard shack beyond the left field wall.
Even though Monteverde pitched well, the best Red Raider on the mound on Saturday was the one who was credited with the victory and that is Ryan Sublette. Sublette came in and went four innings in relief only giving up two hits and no runs while striking out five, incredible job out of the bullpen on Saturday.
On the offensive side of things the Red Raiders had some urgency with a new look order that was used on Saturday and Sunday. Easton Murrell led off followed by Braxton Fulford and then Jung in the third spot. Fourth was Cole Stilwell, followed by Cal Conley. Dillon Carter was sixth Kurt Wilson was seventh while Cody Masters was eighth and Parker Kelly rounded out the order. Murrell led off the game with a triple down the right field line and scored on a Fulford groundout and Tech was on the board early.
The Red Raiders also responded to the four run top of the fourth by TCU with four runs of their own in the bottom of the frame with two of those four being driven in by Jung on an RBI single. After a TCU RBI single in the sixth, things remained knotted up until the tenth.
Cal Conley was the first batter up in the inning and on the third pitch he saw, he launched a River Ridings’ pitch over the left field wall, sending the Dan Law Field crowd into a frenzy and tying the series at one.
Tech 17- TCU 7 (7 innings)
In the series finale, Tech made a statement. A huge statement.
The Red Raiders run-ruled the Frogs 17-7 in a game that saw Tech just absolutely shell TCU pitching all day long. Jace Jung homered three times, and twice in the sixth inning alone, the third homer being absolutely tattooed and landing in the track bleachers way beyond the right field wall. After the ball left the bat Jace walked down the line holding the bat and admiring the flight of the ball before tossing the bat about 15 feet in the air in celebration as the crowd went insane.
After Jace hit his third, Stilwell came up and promptly sent one over the left field wall for back-to-back homers, the third time Tech has gone back to back this season. This game also saw a Cody Masters’ three run home run that was absolutely destroyed over the batters eye in dead center. Needless to say the bats were white hot.
Unfortunately, Tech didn’t get out of the series unscathed, as the injury bug bit hard on Sunday. Brandon Birdsell, who was moved to the Sunday slot to give him more rest due to a shoulder injury, had to be pulled in the third inning as that injury resurfaced after limiting Birdsell in Manhattan last week. Tim Tadlock said in the post game that it wasn’t Birdsell’s elbow which is good news and that it didn’t appear to be long term, just something that needed rest to heal.
Kurt Wilson also jammed his thumb sliding into third base on Sunday, prompting an emergency appearance from Dylan Neuse off the bench. Let’s hope Tech can get healthy and back to 100% this coming week for West Virginia.
In a weekend top-10 showdown in the heart of Big 12 play, Tech took two of three from a very talented TCU squad. The Red Raiders did so without Dru Baker and Dylan Neuse as both were injured and did not play this weekend (Neuse had an emergency appearance due to a Kurt Wilson injury as was mentioned earlier). Dru is still dealing with that strained leg muscle and is feeling better but not at 100% just yet, according to Tadlock. Neuse was injured during an intra-squad game during the week when he was hit by a pitch in his back, thus causing some stiffness and soreness and keeping him out of the lineup this weekend. Hopefully Baker and Neuse will be back by the weekend for West Virginia as they will be much need because we really don’t know the extent of Kurt Wilson’s hand injury at this point.
I would expect to see Mason Montgomery re-inserted into that pitching rotation in the Sunday slot for the West Virginia series as I don’t expect to see Brandon Birdsell pitching until possibly the 23rd of April against Baylor at home, however, it could even be longer than that, we just don’t know at this early stage.
Jace Jung had four homers and nine RBIs in the three game series this weekend, as Jace is just insanely locked in at the plate right now. Jung is tied for the national lead in home runs after this weekend with 15 bombs through 29 games this season. To put that into perspective, Jace’s brother Josh hit 15 home runs in 64 games in his All-American 2019 campaign for the Red Raiders, so I’d be willing to bet that Jace is letting Josh know he’s on his tail to pass him up.
Overall, you really like to see your team respond after losing three straight the way they did. 23 runs over two games is an impressive feat against anyone, especially when that team is ranked #10 in the country. Performances like that turn heads, and after the K-State series, it was positive noise being made by the Red Raiders.
Tech takes on Stephen F. Austin in a mid-week two game series set for Tuesday and Wednesday of this week before heading to Morgantown, West Virginia to take on the Mountaineers in a three game road series over the weekend.
Tuesday- 6:30 p.m. Dan Law Field
Wednesday- 1:00 p.m. Dan Law Field (Bark in the Park)
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