To close out the regular season the Red Raiders took on the Oklahoma Sooners in a three-game series this weekend in Lubbock. After a stellar performance against Oklahoma State in Stillwater last week, there were high hopes that Tech could sweep the series and roll into the Big 12 Tournament as the No. 1 seed.
Unfortunately, Tech was not able to keep last weekend’s momentum rolling as they faced off with the Sooners. Thursday evening, the team fell 13-8 to Oklahoma. The Red Raiders started off strong pulling ahead 4-1 through the first 2 innings. However, pitching fell short as we have seen in many of the tough losses this season. Oklahoma recorded five home runs between the 3rd and 6th innings. Despite strong offensive showings from Ty Coleman and Cole Stilwell, it was not enough to mount a comeback.
Friday’s rematch was a much closer contest, but the Red Raiders fell short again. Oklahoma pulled ahead early and stayed there, scoring three runs in the 1st inning. Although not stellar, Tech looked much better on the mound, with one home run from Oklahoma all night and four walks. That being said, Red Raider pitchers hit three Oklahoma batters, and the defense allowed three stolen bases. The biggest key to the loss however was the lack of run production. The Red Raider offense stranded 10 baserunners and struck out a dozen times, 8 of those strikeouts coming from the heart of the lineup.
The team came through with a win on Saturday, as Red Raider Nation celebrated the seniors. Chase Hampton took the mound for Tech and went six innings, striking out 9, with only 2 earned runs coming in the 1st inning. The Red Raider offense looked to have recovered. Easton Murrell went 2 for 3 with two runs. Jace Jung, Kurt Wilson, and Parker Kelley all had home runs through the middle innings to cap off the 10-2 win.
With Saturday’s win, the Red Raiders solidify the No. 2 seed heading into the Big 12 tournament in Dallas this week. They will start the tournament facing off with the No. 7 seed, Kansas State, on Wednesday afternoon. The Red Raiders completed a three-game sweep of the Wildcats back in early April. If Tech wins the opener, they will play the winner of Oklahoma and West Virginia. If they lose, they will face the loser of Oklahoma and West Virginia.
As the team prepares for Kansas State it will be essential for Coach Tadlock to diagnose the issues from this weekend and make the necessary changes, because it is likely Tech will see the Sooners again in the days to come. For the team to be successful in the tournament they will need to be solid on both sides of the ball. The pitching staff will have to fight for every pitch, and they will need the defense behind them. The Red Raiders usually don’t have too much trouble connecting with the ball, but they will have to hit in clutch at-bats, keep from chasing out of the zone, and limit the runners left on base.