Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, Texas Tech will put its nine game win streak on the line against the reigning national champions, Mississippi State. While technically this game will be played at a “neutral” site in Biloxi, MS, let’s call it what it is, a home series for the Bulldogs, who aren’t exactly starting out very well this season.
First though, let’s recap a weekend for the Red Raiders that saw Tech sweep an overmatched Merrimack by a combined score of 70-12. The Red Raiders dominated in all facets of the series and never really faced a challenge all weekend. I do need to say that in all reality the score never should have been so lopsided and the opponent really had no business being on the same field. There were pop-ups that should’ve been caught that weren’t and that led to runs and long innings. There was one inning over the weekend where Tech sent 17 batters to the plate in one inning, and that is an absurd amount.
Parker Kelly won Big 12 Player of the Week honors for his performance over the weekend and Game One on Saturday is the reason why. Kelly went 3-for-6 with 3 HRs and 9 RBIs. Two of those home runs for PK were Grand Slams and the other was a solo shot earlier in the game. I’ve said this ever since PK has taken over at the hot corner, if he gets his bat going, watch out. He is an elite infielder with a strong arm and an even better glove.
The pitching over-powered Merrimack and they really never got anything going. The four-game series saw four starters obviously, and in game four, we saw the long anticipated return of Austin Becker to the starting spot on a weekend. Becker delivered a great outing, going three innings, giving up one hit and striking out five, while throwing 47 pitches.
Now, back to the Bulldogs.
Let’s not sugarcoat it, Mississippi State has struggled. They are 6-6 this season and after dropping a mid-week game to Southern Miss, and this past weekend series to Tulane, they dropped 14 spots in the top-25 from 9 to 23. It seems as though they are struggling with relief pitching quite a bit, as they were up 10-2 in the fifth inning last Saturday, only to give up nine unanswered runs to lose the game in extras.
Texas Tech should be able to exploit poor pitching just like we saw in the Merrimack series. But let me be blunt. Mississippi State is not a bad team. They lost some key guys from last season’s team and they are trying a lot of options to fill those shoes. I still fully expect them to figure out their issues and challenge for an SEC Title, although the SEC is not short of baseball talent, as they are far and away the best conference in the country.
This will be an interesting series, as I expect the Bulldogs to be angry and trying like hell to fix their problems. This team will not roll over against the Red Raiders at any point. This team can’t really afford many more losses if they are still looking to get a national seed to host a regional or Super in Starkvegas later this season.
For Tech, I would expect to see Chase Hampton on the mound on Tuesday, and possibly a platoon game on Wednesday, or vice versa. This is a huge opportunity for the Red Raiders to continue the momentum heading towards Rice this weekend, and looking at Big 12 play later this month.
This series against Mississippi State will be aired on SEC Network+, which is available with an ESPN+ subscription to view on a laptop or mobile device through the ESPN app.
Tuesday’s first pitch is at 6:00 p.m. and Wednesday’s is at 5:00 p.m.
I’ll be tweeting here and there over the course of the games so tune in and watch with me as Tech looks to extend its winning streak to 11.