No. 10 Texas Tech sweeps the Shriner’s Hospital for Children College Classic despite late-game scares against Texas State and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the opening and closing games of the weekend.
In the Friday matchup against the Texas State Bobcats, Brandon Birdsell took the mound for the Red Raiders. In four and two-thirds, he allowed three runs on four hits while also striking out four batters. Andrew Devine and Derek Bridges would both come in as relievers in the fifth and sixth innings and collectively allowed one run before Tim Tadlock handed the keys to Hayde Key.
Key ended up receiving the win and had season highs in innings pitched (3.0) and strikeouts (5) as he pulled in a one-hit performance that saw him shut out the Bobcats in the final three innings to give the Red Raiders an 8-4 victory.
At the plate for Texas Tech, it was the Braxton Fulford show. After missing the previous four games for the Red Raiders. Fulford made his presence known as he launched two balls over the left-field wall in the seventh and eighth innings. The first one was a go-ahead homer to give the Red Raiders a 5-4 lead, and the latter was a shot to add two insurance runs to Texas Tech’s total to extend their lead to 8-4. Texas Tech held their 8-4 lead for a victory over the Bobcats.
On Saturday, Texas Tech suited up against the Sam Houston State Bearkats for day two of the classic. The game went just as expected as Patrick Monteverde once again pitched deep into this ballgame.
Monteverde pitched seven complete innings with no runs on three hits while pitching nine strikeouts to no walks. The Seton Hall transfer also only faced 23 batters on 83 pitches. Monteverde’s efficiency this season has been one of the most consistent areas in this Texas Tech roster. He currently is the Big 12’s leader in ERA while also being fourth in the league in innings pitched.
For much of this matchup, the Red Raider’s offense was offensively stagnant as Texas Tech went into the top of the seventh with a 1-0 lead. In the seventh, the offense exploded for a six-run inning headlined by a Cal Conley grand slam that gave Tech a 7-0 lead. Texas Tech went onto win the second game 8-0.
The final game of the Shriner’s College Classic was against the Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Islanders. This game was a pitching duel throughout as two sophomore pitchers from rival high schools in Leander, Texas (Mason Montgomery, Leander High School) (Hayden Thomas, Leander-Rouse High School) duked it out in a game where both players pitched through the sixth inning. Their renewed rivalry made for a very entertaining matchup as both players were able to handle the other team’s lineups exceptionally well.
On Texas Tech’s side, Montgomery finished with one earned run to go along with nine strikeouts and for Texas A&M-CC, Thomas finished win three earned runs in an 11-strikeout performance.
Fortunately for Texas Tech, they were able to get the bats going in the bottom of the seventh. Jace Jung hit a bases-loaded two-out double into left-center to clear the bases and to give the Red Raiders a 4-1 lead.
The Islanders would attempt to make a comeback in the top of the ninth inning, but Cal Conley had other plays as he made a diving play on a softly hit ball just past second base to give Texas Tech a narrow 4-3 win over A&M-CC.
Takeaways from this weekend:
- While it wasn’t the dominating performance many of us had hoped it would be, Texas Tech went into the weekend and picked up three victories. At this point in the season, there is not much more you can ask from a team.
- Offensively, Texas Tech struggled to start in each matchup. This could be a result of each of these teams putting their best starter against Texas Tech, who was the highest-ranked team in this classic, but this was an obvious area where the Red Raiders struggled in as they were only able to put in five runs in the first five innings of each game combined.
- Our pitching staff continues to get better each game. Guys like Monteverde and Montgomery had proved that they could pitch at a high level five to seven innings into each start, and in the bullpen, several guys have stepped up and have shown that they can be reliable relievers that can pitch two to three innings if called upon (Key, Queen, Sublette)
- There is a lot to look forward to this season. If our young guys can continue to find their groove in our offense and our pitching rotation can fill itself out throughout the next couple of months, there is no reason why this team will not be a part of the fight come late May and early June.
Texas Tech will host the Gonzaga Bulldogs in a midweek series at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park. Both games will be streaming live on ESPN+. Games will be on March 9th at 6:30 p.m. CST and March 10th at 1 p.m. CST.
This weekend, the UConn Huskies will be headed to Lubbock for a four-game series against the Red Raiders. These games will also be streaming on ESPN+ and will be at the following timeslots: March 12th, 6:30 p.m. CST, March 13th, 2 p.m. CST, March 14th, 2 p.m. CST, and March 15th at 1 p.m. CST.