In my story reviewing the Kansas series and briefly previewing the GCU series I said “even though it is a mid-week series, the Antelopes will be looking to make a statement against a top five team.” Well, to be short, they did.
#4 Texas Tech dropped both games of a mid-week series in Phoenix against Grand Canyon, and have now lost three straight games. If you’re like me, the first question you ask is “What is going wrong and what can be done to fix it?” In what I am seeing, it’s a few different things that have come and gone but a few constant issues that need to be addressed.
First though, I want to talk briefly about the games. In game one, Tech lost 9-4 in a game where the hitting kept you close as long as it could, then the pitching woes reared their ugly head again. Kurt Wilson singled home Jace Jung in the top of the fifth bringing Tech to within one run at 4-3, but after that it was all GCU as they pulled away and the Red Raiders couldn’t push any runs across as they stranded 10 men on the base paths.
In game two, it was all GCU until the ninth inning. Tech scored five runs in the ninth to come up one short and lose by a score of 8-7. Tech stranded nine men on base in this one and the pitching was suspect, other than Sunday starter Mason Molina who came in for a surprise relief appearance in the seventh allowing no runs on no hits. Molina was the only Tech pitcher used in this series that did not allow a run.
F | Grand Canyon 8, Texas Tech 7— Texas Tech Baseball (@TTU_Baseball) April 7, 2022
In two games, Tech used nine pitchers including the starters, for a combined sixteen innings (GCU didn’t hit in either ninth inning) and as I mentioned, Molina was the only pitcher that didn’t allow a run. Frankly, that is not good. If you can’t call on a single pitcher to not allow runs against GCU, its time to re-evaluate things. Yes, GCU is a solid squad, but this isn’t the first time this has happened. You gave up a combined 28 runs in three games against Texas, 11 in a game against a struggling Mississippi State squad, 13 to Arizona in Arlington, and eight on Sunday to a last place Kansas team that promptly went out and lost to Missouri on Wednesday 14-6. Take it however you want, but those are not good numbers.
Now the other glaring stat from this week, 19 men left on base in two games. This, unlike the bullpen, has not really been an issue for the Red Raiders this season, so while I’m not very worried about it just yet, it is something to keep your eye on to make sure it doesn’t become a trend.
This weekend, the Red Raiders look to end the losing streak at three, against the Wildcats of Kansas State. KSU is tied with Kansas for last place in the Big 12 but overall they are 15-13 and 1-5 in conference. The Wildcats also joined Tech in Arlington at the beginning of the season but they went home 0-3 after getting beat in all three games giving up over eight runs in each ballgame. They were swept in Fort Worth by TCU to start Big 12 play and lost two of three at home against Oklahoma State.
This series against KSU is a lot more important than I care to admit this early in conference play. Tech has lost three straight and have been sloppy the last four days, the pitching has been lackluster and as I’ve mentioned plenty of times, you can’t rely on scoring 15 runs a game to win and cover for bad pitching, I think we have all realized that this week.
KSU is led by the Oklahoma State transfer Dominic Johnson, who is hitting .412 with 15 doubles and seven steals on the year, while Dylan Phillips has 9 HRs and 28 RBIs this season. On the mound, KSU has two pitchers in Blake Adams and Conor McCullough who anchor the weekend rotation. Both have ERAs under 3.40 and batters are hitting for an average below .215 against both as well.
The bottom line is this: even though they are 1-5 in conference, these are no cake walk games. Tech needs to get back into the win column and it is good news that the top two pitchers on your team will throw Friday and Saturday.
Get out to Dan Law this weekend and support these guys.
Game 1: Friday April 8 vs. Kansas State 6:00 p.m. ESPN+, TTSN Radio.
Game 2: Saturday April 9 vs. Kansas State 2:00 p.m. ESPN+, TTSN Radio.
Game 3: Sunday April 10 vs. Kansas State 1:00 p.m. ESPN+, TTSN Radio.