OMAHA, Neb. – Texas Tech is making its’ first ever appearance in the College World Series after crushing Cinderella’s slipper and looks to introduce “Guns Up” to Omaha by shooting down the rest of the field. Winning 40 games for the first time since 2004, head coach Tim Tadlock’s Red Raiders are hoping to continue to surprise the college baseball world and win their first national title in his second year at the helm of his alma mater.
Texas Tech burst on the scene by opening the season winning 3-of-4 against Indiana as the Red Raiders jumped to a 15-3 start with winning streaks of eight and seven games. However, injuries knocked the Raiders off their horse for a couple of stretches during the season.
Yet, this bunch of Red Raiders would respond and get back on the trail with a 16-5 stretch to end the regular season as Texas Tech finished fourth in the Big 12 Conference at 14-10. Tech then ran into a wall in the Big 12 Tournament with a two-game exit losing 8-3 to No. 5 seed Texas and 9-8 to No. 8 seed Oklahoma.
The Red Raiders were selected to play in the Coral Gables Regional hosted by Miami as the No. 2 seed with an opening match-up against No. 3 seed Columbia.
Adam Kirsch (.300/.553/.390, 37 R, 51 RBI, 10 HR) hit a two-run homer as Texas Tech defeated Columbia 3-2. Jonny Drozd (7-0, 2.00 ERA, 5 SV, 48 K, 15 BB, .229 OBA) came on in relief in the sixth and limited a Lions’ rally before shutting the door, allowing no runs over the final three innings to set up a winner’s bracket game with Miami.
Dylan Dusek (8-0, 1.94 ERA, 38 K, 14 BB, .233 OBA) threw eight scoreless innings and Corey Taylor (5-3, 2.62 ERA, 2 SV, 32 K, 8 BB, .268 OBA) shut the door on the Hurricanes as the Red Raiders notched their first shutout of the tournament and remained in the winner’s bracket.
Texas Tech would drop a 2-1 decision to Miami before facing them again with a shot at the Super Regionals on the line. The Red Raiders would hurl their second shutout of the season as Cameron Smith (8-2, 2.81 ERA, 1 SV, 43 K, 28 BB, .267 OBA) threw a complete game as Texas Tech won 4-0.
In the Super Regionals Texas Tech faced tournament Cinderella College of Charleston, who was unbeaten in tournament play at 3-0 coming out of the Gainesville Regional. The Cougars were the only No. 4 seed to advance to the Super Regionals and had done so behind quality pitching and the 10-win duo of Taylor Clarke and Bailey Ober.
Chris Sadberry (5-3, 3.17 ERA, 60 K, 23 BB, .263 OBA) threw eight scoreless innings and Drozd closed out the game in a 1-0 opening game win that would be the second consecutive shutout for the Red Raiders. An identical 1-0 win in game two propelled Texas Tech on to the College World Series as four pitchers combined to shutout the Cougars and leave Cinderella waiting at the ball.
Texas Tech will now face conference, in-state rival TCU in its’ first ever College World Series game at 3:00 PM eastern on Sunday. The Red Raiders are one of the few teams to get to TCU pitching this year taking 2-of-3 from the Horned Frogs by outscoring them 22-13. After dropping the first game of the set 9-0, the offense rebounded to defeat TCU 10-2 and 12-2 to take the series.
Texas Tech will face either Virginia or Ole Miss in game two.
2014 College World Series – Texas Tech (45-19)
The Red Raiders’ story has been their offense all season, until their pitching showed up huge for the post-season with 27 consecutive scoreless innings pitched having allowed four earned runs in the entire tournament. Texas Tech has a 0.65 ERA so far in the tournament.
However, one can’t expect the power bats of Texas Tech to keep quiet for too much longer. The Red Raiders boast four hitters with 20-plus extra base hits in their lineup led by Adam Kirsch who has 33 that include 10 homers and the highest isolated slugging percentage on the team at .253, but Kirsch strikes out in 15 percent of his plate appearances which can be an issue with runners on base.
First baseman Eric Gutierrez (.312/.557/.410, 46 R, 58 RBI, 12 HR) rounds out the formidable 4-5 combo as the team’s clean-up hitter with 32 extra-base knocks while leading the team in homers, RBI and runs scored with an isolated slugging percentage of .245. His bat has been key all season and with a .260 average so far in the tournament we can expect him to get things rolling in Omaha.
In the two-spot Bryant Burleson (.275/.405/.330, 38 R, 37 RBI, 2 HR) brings extra-base pop with 25 on the season with a .135 isolated slugging percentage with left fielder Tyler Nelsony (.388/.612/.469, 29 R, 32 RBI, 4 HR) filling the three-hole in the lineup with a .224 isolated slugging percentage and the highest on-base percentage among the power bats in the lineup.
This leaves lead-off man Stephen Smith (.282/.394/.414, 41 R, 20 RBI, 1 HR) with the simple task of just getting on base so the extra-base prowess hitting two thru five in the lineup can drive him in. However, Smith strikes out as often as he walks and doesn’t add the stolen base threat with only two steals on five attempts.
The Red Raider offense lost the contributions of Jake Barrios (.272/.326/.375, 36 R, 23 RBI) after an injury in mid-April so Tim Proudfoot (.317/.366/.379, 26 R, 19 RBI) and Ryan Long (.207/.260/.301, 18 R, 22 RBI) have been forced to step-up and produce on the left-side of the infield in his absence. Proudfoot and Long have been solid for the Red Raiders.
On the hill, Chris Sadberry (5-3, 3.17 ERA, 60 K, 23 BB, .263 OBA) remains the most consistent and reliable starter on the staff with a nearly 3-to-1 strike-out-to-walk ratio and the team lead with 88 innings pitched.
Freshman Dylan Dusek (8-0, 1.94 ERA, 38 K, 14 BB, .233 OBA) has stepped up and been an amazing addition to the starting rotation, especially walking under five percent of the hitters he faces. Cameron Smith was the game seven hero against the Miami Hurricanes and appears to be the No. 3 starter in the tournament.
Dominic Moreno (4-5, 3.14 ERA, 2 SV, 56 K, 24 BB, .267 OBA), Corey Taylor (5-3, 2.62 ERA, 32 K, 8 BB, .268 OBA) and Ryan Moseley (1-2, 3.32 ERA, 3 SV, 35 K, 22 BB, .209 OBA) appear to be available for long relief appearances if needed while Taylor has notched two saves over two scoreless innings in the post-season so far.
Senior Jonny Drozd is the key reliever for the Red Raider with 72 innings pitched on 26 appearances on the season. The southpaw strikes out 16 percent of the hitters he faces while surrendering a walk only five percent of the time and has long relief capability and the reliability to hold the lead as he has done effectively all season and in the post season. Drozd is has thrown 6.2 scoreless innings this post-season with a win and two saves.
Texas Tech has a solid lineup with a team resilience born through the adversity of an injury-plagued 2014 campaign and if its’ pitching continues to show up will be a difficult out in Omaha.