Friday’s Game 1 started off looking like a pitcher’s duel, with both Patrick Monteverde and Baylor’s Tyler Thomas retiring the opposing batters in order in the first inning. However, the top half of the second inning was nightmarish for the Red Raiders. Baylor opened the frame with a single, and then Cade Currington blasted a homer to give the Bears a quick 2-0 lead. Things didn’t get much better for Texas Tech from there, as another single quickly turned into a RISP following a wild pitch.
A double would bring in another run, and another wild pitch would advance the runner to third. A single brought in the run. Tech’s first out of the inning only came on a sacrifice bunt, and with another walk, Baylor would plate their fifth run of the inning on yet another single. The Bears would load the bases and then have another run walked in for a 6-0 lead before the Red Raiders finally ended the top half of the second on a groundout. It was a deep hole that Tech was never able to dig out of. The Red Raiders would score a run in the bottom half of the second, but Baylor would answer with a solo shot in the third to stay six runs up at 7-1.
It would stay that way until a Fulford solo homer in the 4th made it 7-2. Andrew Devine replaced Monteverde in the fifth for what would be an eventful inning, but Devine managed to escape unscathed. Eli Reichmann replaced Devine in the sixth and managed to retire the Bears in order. The Red Raiders started to get something going offensively in the bottom half of the 6th, as Baker singled and Jung drew a walk to put two men on with no outs. Tech loaded the bases in the inning, but failed to plate a run, at which point the game truly began to slip away.
Baylor would hit another solo home run in the 7th, and Tech would answer with a run of its own, but Baylor retained their comfortable lead with time running out. Chase Webster entered in the top of the 8th and the Bears feasted on him with a leadoff double and a 2-run HR. The Baylor lead ballooned to 11-3 by the end of the 8th, and both teams would tack on a run in the 9th well after the game was decided. It was not Texas Tech’s day. Baylor hits kept escaping the park for homeruns while the Red Raiders hit flyouts to the warning track. Credit to the Bears for hitting on just about every Tech pitcher they faced, as the ERAs from the Tech bullpen on Friday are far from impressive.
Saturday’s Game 2 was now a must-win for Tech to avoid dropping the series. Starter Micah Dallas entered the game coming off of a pair of tough outings against TCU and West Virginia. Thankfully for the Red Raiders, this game would prove to be a return to form for Dallas. Neither the Bears nor Tech could get much of anything going for the majority of the game, as Dallas and Baylor’s Kettler kept a clean scoreboard until both teams plated a run in the 6th inning. Dallas would last an inning beyond Kettler and struck out ten in seven innings of work until Sublette took over a tie game in the 8th.
Sublette worked an out and then a double play to keep things square in a 1-1 game that felt even tighter than that. The sellout crowd at Rip Griffin Park was visibly restless and nervous as Tech entered the bottom half of the eighth inning needing some runs on the board. A flyout to open the Tech half of the inning by Parker Kelly made it appear like the Red Raiders would need to have some 9th inning magic to pull off the win, but the meat of Tech’s hitting lineup was still to come in the 8th.
Easton Murrell earned a walk, followed by a Jace Jung single. The Red Raiders now found themselves with two men on and one out. Dru Baker would advance the runners on a groundout, and Baylor chose to intentionally walk Cal Conley to load the bases. Conley has been responsible for some really clutch hitting this year for Tech, so it’s hard to fault Baylor too much for not giving him the chance to do it again. However, Braxton Fulford did not take kindly to the disrespect. Fulford’s hitting has improved dramatically in his time at Tech, and he would make the Bears pay for giving him the opportunity to prove it.
Fulford smashed a double into left field that scored all three men on base, and the home crowd’s frustrations erupted into raucous cheers as the Red Raiders found themselves now up 4-1 in a game where such a margin seemed insurmountable. Sublette would finish the Bears off in order in the top of the 9th to seal the victory, and while both Sublette and Dallas certainly merit a tip of the cap for posting quality performances from the mound, it’s Fulford who was Saturday’s hero, and deservedly so.
Sunday’s rubber match was reminiscent of Friday’s opener. Texas Tech’s highlights from the game featured a Cal Conley solo homerun, a Jace Jung RBI double, and little else. The majority of the game for the Red Raiders was death by a thousand cuts, with Baylor getting plenty of hits and capitalizing on virtually all of them to slowly build a lead. Still, Tech remained in the game until the 7th inning, when Baylor’s 4-1 lead exploded to 9-1.
The inning featured several wild pitches, an error, a misplayed ball by Jace Jung, and some timely Baylor base hits that brought in runs. For the game, Tech would leave nine on base while Baylor posted 13 RBIs, and that largely tells the story. The Bears got the hits when they needed them, and the Red Raiders failed to bring runners home. Credit to Baylor’s pitching, but this game and series was extremely lacking from a hitting standpoint from Texas Tech. Only scoring eleven runs total for the series is not the way to win a series, and that’s exactly how it played out.
Tech’s chances at a Big XII Championship are rapidly fading as the team’s Big XII record fell to an extremely disappointing 8-7 with the loss of this series. The injury bug has not been kind to the Red Raiders, but this team needs players to step up in a hurry if it has any hopes of making it to Omaha again. It’s hard to claim that Tech is living up to its potential so far even taking the injuries into consideration, as this series loss at home stings. Tech will drop significantly in the rankings and deserves to.
The Red Raiders have a single home game remaining against New Mexico before arguably the toughest matchup of the regular season against a Texas team that is hitting its stride. There isn’t much time for the Red Raiders to get things figured out, as Tech will simply need to play far better than it did against Baylor if it expects to take some wins in Austin. While the Red Raiders remain very much in the postseason mix where anything can happen, Tech needs to be doing better in conference play, and has a chance to recapture some mojo if they can do well against a quality Longhorn team.