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Series Recap: #8 Texas Tech at West Virginia

Great pitching performances bookend a sloppy and chippy series.

Photo CC: Texas Tech Athletics

Patrick Monteverde opened up the series with an absolute gem from the mound. On the day, he would pitch seven innings, strike out seven batters, and only allow two hits. Josh Sanders entered in the 8th and would surrender two runs, but the game had been put well out of reach by then thanks to Monteverde’s shut down effort. The Tech bats were fairly hot as well, opening the game with a single, a triple, and a double in successive at-bats to quickly jump out to a 2-0 lead. The score remained there until the top of the 4th, when Cal Conley reached on a walk and was brought home by Cody Masters to push the lead to 3-0.

Tech would strike again in the fifth on a walk by Murrell followed by a Braxton Fulford 2-run homerun. West Virginia would essentially hand Tech another run in the 6th via an error and a wild pitch that set up Fulford with men at second and third. A Braxton single brought in the RBI. The seventh inning was more of the same, featuring Cal Conley and Dru Baker being moved easily around the bases by wild pitches and errors. Baker would score to balloon the lead to 7-0. WVU would tack on two meaningless runs in the bottom of the ninth, but that was all she wrote. Fulford had himself a Friday with the 3-4, 4 RBI performance, and paired with Monteverde’s tremendous outing, WVU never stood a chance.

Saturday’s game, however, wouldn’t go anywhere near as smoothly. Tech would do little with the top half of the first inning and then surrendered an unearned run in the bottom half of the inning. The second inning followed a similar script, except WVU would do more damage thanks to a few singles and a few wild pitches on some Micah Dallas sliders that were hitting in the dirt. Tech found themselves down 3-0 in the third, and neither team was able to get anything going in the inning. It looked for a bit like Tech was about to put themselves right back in the game in the fourth inning with three hits that scored a run, and then loaded the bases with only one out, but Parker Kelly grounded into a double play that ended the inning.

The Red Raiders would find themselves in the same situation in the fifth, with the bases juiced and one out. A fly-out and a ground out only allowed Tech to plate one on a golden opportunity, and Tech remained down 2-3. WVU would extend the lead to 4-2 on an airmailed throw to home from the outfield. The top of the 6th would feature more opportunities. WVU surrendered four free passes in a row to hand Tech a run with no outs. Easton Murrell would hit a sac fly to bring in another run to tie the game at four.

The bases would get loaded again and Jace Jung would draw a walk to give Tech a 5-4 lead, with still bases loaded and only one out. However, a pop-up and a groundout again left men on base. Ryan Sublette would enter in the 6th and keep WVU off the board. Tech put two on with no outs in the seventh but failed to bring any of them in. Sublette would allow the game-tying run in the 8th and another that won the game for WVU in the 9th, but Tech had plenty of chances to put the game away at the plate with runners in scoring position and consistently failed to do so.

Saturday was a game full of frustrations, with a game that Tech very much let slip away as batters were beaned repeatedly. On Sunday, the Red Raiders took out their frustrations. Starter Mason Montgomery was the definition of locked in. WVU wasn’t able to muster much of anything against Mason, who registered an eye-popping twelve strikeouts in 6.2 innings of work. Monteverde’s work on Friday was plenty impressive, but Montgomery’s Sunday was even better. The Tech bats came alive as well, led by Cal Conley switch-hitting his way to a pair of home runs on a 4-5 day with four RBIs.

The Red Raiders broke open the game in the sixth inning following WVU’s ninth hit batter of the series. That seemed to be one plunking too many for the Red Raiders, who rattled off six angry runs to push the lead to 10-1, which would end up being the final margin. After failing to capitalize on Saturday and having an opponent begin chirping and pegging batters, this was a series that could have gotten away if the Red Raiders had lost control of their emotions. Instead, Tech was able to channel them into a dominant Sunday to seal another series win. Tech must be kicking itself for not coming away with the sweep but has moved up to #5 in the rankings ahead of a midweek non-conference matchup against OU that should be another good test for the Red Raiders.

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