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An old-fashioned Mississippi Split, Rice on the side

Red Raiders split a mid-week against reigning national champs plus a look-ahead to the weekend

For Whom the Cowbell Tolls

Coming off of a weekend where Texas Tech outscored an inferior Merrimack squad 70-12, the Red Raiders squared off against the reigning national champion Mississippi State in a mid-week two game series in Biloxi, MS. In what is officially said to be a neutral series, the ballpark of the Double-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers was 99% pro-state and the weather was abysmal on day two, and Tech overcame some day one setbacks to even the series with a win in game two.

On Tuesday, Tech started strong, but the fourth inning was a haunting one for the Red Raiders, as the pitching couldn’t buy a strike and any breaks in the field seemed to go the way of the Bulldogs, as they hung a whopping nine runs in the frame. Tech responded with a few runs here and there, as they got home runs from Parker Kelly and Jace Jung, but it wasn’t near enough. Parker Stinnett, the starter for State, pitched five innings and finished with 12 strikeouts, meaning only three Red Raiders were retired another way through five, not ideal to say the least. Chase Hampton had a very good first three innings but then fell apart in the fourth, Trendan Parish followed in relief and looked human for the first time this year, as he got touched up for five runs himself. Meanwhile, Tech hitting was swinging at what seemed like everything they saw as they finished with 16 strikeouts as a team. The final score was 11-5, and it was one of the worst games Tech played all year overall.

Game two, on Wednesday was a complete 180. Tech came out eager to play and the pitching was fantastic in a platoon-style game, meaning there were no true starters used on the mound, just a platoon of arms you normally see out of the bullpen, but hell, you could’ve fooled me. Jamie Hitt threw a career high four innings and didn’t give up a run or a hit for that matter, as he gave all you could ask for in a fantastic outing. After Hitt, a combination of Colin Clark, Jase Lopez, Derek Bridges, and Brendan Girton held State to two runs on three hits for the rest of the game which was more than enough.

Texas Tech Athletics

Folks, I don’t know if there is a hitter on more of a tear than Parker Kelly is on right now. PK is absolutely destroying the ball at the plate, and he continued in game two, with ANOTHER grand slam in the second inning, bringing his total to three grand slams in five games. He is just on another planet, and as I’ve said in the past, his play in the field is enough to get him recognized, but if his bat heats up, watch out. I think that bat is white-hot at the moment, and if it continues, who knows what could happen. Two batters after the grand slam, Dillon Carter followed with a big fly of his own, and Kurt Wilson was continuing his great hitting at the plate as well, manufacturing two runs, one in the eighth and one in the ninth to put the final nails in the coffin, as Tech won 7-2.

My final thoughts are about what we saw from the bullpen, and I think its going to be the main story around this team for a bit. Which bullpen will we see? The one that can’t find the strike zone, or the one that pitches lights out? Jace Jung is finally getting going at the plate, and with other key guys like Kurt Wilson, Owen Washburn, and Parker Kelly having good seasons so far, pitchers won’t be able to pitch around Jace much at all.

Texas Tech Athletics

This weekend, the Red Raiders travel to Houston for a three game series against the Rice Owls. Rice is 3-10 to start the season, as they have been swept by Texas, and were beat in a mid-week game last week against Baylor 9-0. It’s no secret they have struggled, but if there is one thing that could get their season turned around, it would be a series win against Tech. This is no pushover series.

Tech will see a former Red Raider on the opposite bench again in Drew Woodcox, who transferred after playing in 20 games for Tech last season and starting in eight of those games, hitting .167 on the year. This year for Rice, he has started every game he has played (12 games) and is hitting .156 so far on the year. On the mound Tech will see a combo of guys led by Parker Smith, who has a 2.70 ERA over 16.2 innings this season.

Rice is in sort of a weird spot, caught between rebuilding and a new head coach that is still adjusting to a new role, this team is struggling a bit. But again, this is no cake walk, Smith can deal, and they have some guys starting to find their stride at the plate.

If Tech takes care of business this weekend, it could be a perfect time to get going just two weeks before Big 12 play.

The games this weekend are on C-USA.tv and to be honest, I have absolutely no clue what that is or how much a membership is for it. It might be a radio weekend for me folks, I’m not sure I can take many more broadcasts that were as poor as that Mississippi State series.

Friday- 7:00 p.m.

Saturday- 2:00 p.m.

Sunday- 1:00 p.m.

Hopefully some of you Houston residents can make it out to Reckling Park to cheer on the Red Raiders this weekend.

Wreck’Em.

Texas Tech Athletics