In an all time epic series between the Texas Longhorns and the Texas Tech Red Raiders, the good guys were able to walk off UT twice and take the opening series of Big 12 play at home in front of a fantastic turnout at Dan Law Field.
On Friday, the teams played into the night as the game went into extra innings, but before we got there, we saw a great pitching performance from Andrew Morris, who went six innings only giving up one run, a lead-off home run to Eric Kennedy in the top of the first. Pete Hansen, the UT starter went seven innings and allowed three runs, but the story of the night was Texas reliever Aaron Nixon. Nixon was brought in with one out in the eighth and would not give up a hit, however giving up two walks and a sac bunt in the tenth, Kurt Wilson was on third and Dillon Carter was at the plate and well what happened next will live on in Tech circles for a very long time.
Kurt Wilson’s steal of home to win game one will be talked about by fans of Tech baseball for a very long time, and quite frankly I am here for it. Kurt has been a mainstay of this program having played every position on the field besides catcher for the Red Raiders. A steal of home to walk off UT is probably going to be the most exciting win of the year.....well at least it was for about 17 hours.
Game two on Saturday was, in my opinion, one of the best college baseball games I have ever seen. Brandon Birdsell got the start for Tech and Tristan Stevens got the nod for the Longhorns. This was slated to be the two aces of each staff facing off, but that is about where the similarities ended. Birdsell gave up a two-run homer to Ivan Melendez in the first to make it 2-0, but Tech did more than answer. Stevens did not record an out before being chased and about 30 minutes later the Red Raiders were up 7-2.
Birdsell ended up going five innings giving up four runs on ten hits. What happened next is what I will touch on in a bit, but the Tech bullpen blew the five run lead and in fact at one point, Texas led in this game 11-7 after the top of the eighth inning, but Tech would not go away. The Red Raiders would score four runs of their own in the bottom of the eighth and would tie it at 11 on a 2 RBI double by Easton Murrell, a Cole Stilwell single, and a Hudson White sac fly. This game went to extras and the Horns struck first in the top of the tenth on a Douglas Hodo double to center-field to make it 12-11 going to the bottom of the tenth. After a Cole Stilwell fielders choice scored Parker Kelly from third to tie it, a walk and a pitching change later, Kurt Wilson stepped in with the bases loaded and two outs. What happened next fully cemented Kurt into a Texas Tech legend.
KURT WILSON PLAYS HERO AGAIN!!!!!— Texas Tech Baseball (@TTU_Baseball) March 26, 2022
GRAND SLAM WALK-OFF TO BEAT TEXAS, 16-12!!!!! pic.twitter.com/ke4FsBQTnz
Kurt Wilson. That’s it.
An unreal moment. Tech wins 16-12.
Game three was a payback game for the Horns as they run-ruled Tech 12-1. Mason Molina went 4.2 innings, gave up three runs and every single reliever Tech brought in got touched up for at least two runs.
It was two wins for Tech against a Texas team that was ranked number two in the country coming into Lubbock this weekend, and securing a series win is a massive positive for this team that is now 20-5 on the year and in a great spot starting conference play at 2-1.
Unfortunately, I can’t end the article here. I have to talk about something that stuck out to me this weekend that was not good. The bullpen. Tech starters gave quality starts in all three games and in game two and three especially, the bullpen was just absolutely torched by the Longhorns. Yes, Texas is one of the better offenses in the country but you can’t keep expecting your offense to score 16 runs to win games because it isn’t going to happen. The bullpen will need to get sorted out and fast because Big 12 play is here and its time to put up or shut up.
All in all it was a great weekend for Tech baseball and it was a good series to lift our spirits after the Sweet 16 exit.
It feels great to win a series, and its even better when it is against UT.
Horns down always.