Texas Tech Must Win This Weekend

Jonny Drozd

The Red Raiders need to defend their home park against Kansas State to stay on track for regionals.

After a pitiful Friday performance by Texas Tech, the Red Raiders came back and nearly won a crucial road series against the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

To reference former Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green, Texas Tech had the Cowboys beaten and the Red Raiders let Oklahoma State off the hook. With a 2-0 lead in the seventh inning, starting pitcher Chris Sadberry allowed a single and was pulled from the ballgame. Sadberry was his usual self pitching a wonderful ballgame and allowing his defense to make the necessary plays it needed to.

Once Sadberry left the game, head coach Tim Tadlock decided to go with a freshman right hander named Ryan Moseley. A pair of freshman pitchers have done a remarkable job this season. On multiple occasions, Moseley has slammed the door on opponents and Dylan Dusek consistently looks well in midweek games. An experienced left hander by the name of Jonny Drozd was left in the bullpen in favor of Moseley. This shows two things.

Tadlock is not afraid to use freshman when he believes they are ready to play. The second thing it shows is Tadlock wanted a right hander in the ballgame with two righties and a switch hitter as the next three batters.

Moseley had a breakdown.

Every bullpen lets the team down at some point during the long season. Every function of the game has let downs. The offense continues to struggle on Friday nights. Although the starting pitching has done well, there have been a few games where Dominic Moreno got lit up.

Sadberry does not have a perfect record either. The point is, it's baseball and the relief pitching is consistently stellar. For example, even after Moseley did not record an out Sunday, his ERA is still 2.16. Not a nice ERA for a relief pitcher, but he's a freshman who prior to Sunday gave up 3 earned runs in 25 innings through 13 appearances. Moseley earned the chance to pitch in a pressure-filled moment during a crucial ballgame. He did not succeed, but the most successful people in the world learn from their mistakes and rebound.

Moseley is not the only pitcher who had a bad game. The entire bullpen collapsed. Experienced pitchers Jonny Drozd, Dominic Moreno and Cameron Smith allowed at least one more earned run than innings pitched.

The loss certainly hurts the Red Raiders, but there's still a lot of baseball to be played and Texas Tech is 5-7 after opening conference play with three of their first conference series out of the way being on the road. This Texas Tech team is not expected to win the Big 12 regular season title. With the exception of the Red Raider faithful and the members of the actual team, Tech was not expected to make an NCAA regional.

According to College Baseball Daily, six of the nine teams in the Big 12 Conference are slated to make a regional appearance including the two teams, Kansas and Texas Tech, picked to finish at the bottom of the conference.

The Red Raiders continue to do well at home where three of their next four conference series are played and the next seven games overall. With ten more home games in the month of April, it is almost certain Texas Tech will reach the milestone of 1,000 home victories this month. The team once known as the Matadors is at 993 home victories after the 19-2 demolition of Abilene Christian. Win three more and the Red Raiders are guaranteed at least a .500 record in the regular season.

Sadberry receives my pitcher of the week award. He did everything he could except finish the ballgame. It is a starter's job to keep the team in the game by the time they leave, with a quality start. Sadberry left with a shutout in-tact during a 2-0 ball game in the bottom of the seventh inning. Tech should have won the series.

It would be easy for me to give player of the week honors to Adam Kirsch. Blasting three extra base hits in single game, including two home runs with six RBIs and three runs, is never a bad day. However, Kirsch did not produce a hit in any other game during the week and left three crucial runs on base Sunday. Tyler Neslony gets the honors. Neslony, who recently returned from an injury, finished 7-for-13 in the Oklahoma State series and did not strand a single runner on base. The Corpus Christi Calallen product did not just produce three hits Sunday, he produced the first hit and the first run. Two of his three Sunday hits ended up as doubles and he was stranded both times after launching the two-baggers.

With Texas Tech in front of Kansas State and the Wildcats putting on a dismal performance this season, the Red Raiders are in a must-win series this weekend. Let's reiterate the fact it has been a full decade since Texas Tech played in a regional.

Juries like to look at the history of those placed on trial and Tech's recent history is an easy one to give a guilty charge to. The Red Raiders must kick down the door. The Wildcats are currently in last place and have played six conference games.

Kansas State, picked to win the regular season title, dropped a home series to Kansas, the team picked to finish last. The Wildcats were outscored on the road 22-11 against Oklahoma. The Sooners scored 11 runs in each of the first two game of the series. Kansas State does not fare well on the road or against decent competition. The Wildcats started the season in California, known as a top-notch baseball state, and left the golden state with a 1-7 record while allowing a minimum of three runs in each of the eight games.

With a 19-13 record including a 3-1 record against teams in the transition period from Division 2 to Division 1, this team is just plain ugly.

The Wildcats will probably place consistent Friday starter Levi MaVorhis on the rubber to start the series. MaVorhis (4-3, 2.75 ERA) is coming off a 10-0 complete game shutout against Kansas, the only victory of the series. This performance comes after he was lit up with an early exit (fewer than six innings) against Creighton and Oklahoma. Jared Moore (5-2, 4.43 ERA) is more than likely to get the start Saturday. Moore has allowed eight earned runs in two conference appearances and has yet to make it through six innings in a conference matchup.

Sunday is probably the Wildcats best bet. Nate Griep (3-1, 1.79 ERA) has tossed three consecutive quality starts including a 5-0 complete game shutout to salvage the Wildcats' series on the road against Oklahoma. In his two conference starts, Kansas State is 1-1 outscoring opponents 6-2.

While the Wildcats have not lived up to the hype of their preseason first place crowning, Tech cannot afford to take it easy this series. A sweep would be impressive for the Red Raiders, but Texas Tech must win this series and leave no doubt in the minds of the selection committee they deserve to be in a regional. Tech has dropped a road series to one of the three Big 12 Conference teams on the outside looking in, they must step on the throat of the two others and Kansas State is one of those.

First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m. Friday at Rip Griffin Park.

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