Baseball is widely known as an up and down sport. A rollercoaster if you will. There are incredible highs and lows. These are reasonably different for every team in the NCAA, and if you are a Texas Tech fan, you have been through a low and a high in just six days.
After the Grand Canyon series, there was a bad taste in everyone’s mouth, one of dissatisfaction, anger, and possibly worry. The bullpen looked atrocious, and the Red Raiders just didn’t look like themselves.
What a difference four days can make.
Texas Tech swept Kansas State this weekend in Lubbock, the first sweep for Texas Tech in conference play since the 2019 season against Oklahoma. The Red Raiders hit well, pitching improved, and the result was three straight wins over a conference opponent.
In game one, Tech won 6-3 behind the pitching performance of Andrew Morris, who at this point is making a strong case for Big 12 newcomer of the year, as he went seven innings giving up three runs on six hits and nine strikeouts. Morris has come on extremely strong during conference play and with his win on Friday, improves his overall record to 4-0 on the season. In the sixth inning, with K-State leading 3-1, the Red Raiders loaded the bases and it was Owen Washburn’s bases clearing double that gave Tech the lead for good.
After the double, Dalton Porter doubled home Washburn, and Kurt Wilson added an insurance run in the seventh inning, as Trendan Parish shut the door in the ninth for his sixth save on the year.
In game two, it was all Red Raiders. Tech won 14-0 in a shutout performance from what looked to be a completely different pitching staff than we saw just three or four days earlier in Phoenix. The main reason for that is the only pitcher that may be hotter than Andrew Morris right now, Brandon Birdsell. Birdsell went six innings allowing no runs on one hit and striking out 12. The dude is simply on fire lately.
At the plate, the Red Raiders got busy quickly with a Kurt Wilson homer in the first to make it 3-0 and they never looked back, as it was 8-0 after the fifth and 10-0 at the seventh inning stretch. Wilson and Hudson White homered in this one, and Wilson, Cole Stilwell, Jace Jung, and Parker Kelly all had doubles as well. The Red Raiders finished with 14 runs on 10 hits as they walked 11 times on a poor pitching day for K-State.
Game three was a back and forth typical Big 12 Baseball game. Tech sent Chase Hampton to the hill for his first weekend start of the year, as the Red Raiders were looking to complete the sweep and get their first Sunday victory in Big 12 play. Hampton had some control issues and was pulled after three innings and three runs, two of those leadoff homers in the second and third inning. Mason Molina, the typical Sunday starter, came in and threw two innings but gave up two runs on three hits, and after five innings, it looked like a typical Sunday game for Tech, losing 5-2. However, the next three pitchers used, Josh Sanders, Shay Hartis, and Trendan Parish only gave up one run to steady the ship to give Tech a chance to make it a game in the later innings.
After Cole Stilwell and Ty Coleman RBI singles in the seventh and a K-State RBI single by Nick Goodwin, the score was 6-4 going into the bottom of the ninth, and Tech had the top of the order coming up. Zac Vooletich stepped in and promptly sent a no-doubter over the left field wall for his first career D-1 homer, and shrunk the lead to one.
After the homer, Cole Stilwell singled up the middle on a 3-1 pitch, bringing Jace Jung to the plate. After fouling off a few pitches and having a 2-2 count, this happened:
Jace has now hit 10 homers on the year to go along with 40 RBIs, 14 doubles, and a .388 batting average. However his most important stat might be his walks to strikeouts. 34 walks to only 20 strikeouts is impressive for a three-spot hitter in the lineup and it just proves that Jace is elite at the plate; as if we all didn’t already know that.
After this series, Tech has six players that have started at least 28 games and have over a .300 batting average. As a team they have a .306 average, good for second in the conference and have 53 homers, one behind Texas for tops in the conference. Tech leads the Big 12 in OBP at .420 and is third in the conference with a .977 fielding percentage.
The Red Raiders currently have the best overall record in the Big 12 at 27-8.
This week, Tech takes on Oklahoma in a non-conference game in Amarillo at Hodgetown Stadium on Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. That game is not televised according to the Texas Tech website, but you can listen on TTSN Radio.
This coming weekend, the Red Raiders travel to Fort Worth for a Thursday-Saturday series at TCU. Those games can be seen on ESPN+, and heard on TTSN Radio as well.
I will be back to talk about the OU game in Amarillo, and preview TCU later this week.
Have a good week Red Raiders.