I didn’t talk about this much last week because of Gingery’s injury, but this stretch will show us and the college baseball landscape what to expect.
Every year, Texas Tech seems to have a series in which they play tough opponents either on the road or at a neutral ground. In 2017, they face A&M, Ole Miss and LSU in Houston, winning two out of the three. In 2016, they played Houston, ULL and Arkansas in Houston, once again winning two out of three.
In 2015, they played at Cal State Fullerton, getting swept in the series. And in 2014, they hosted Indiana, winning three out of the four games and shocking the college baseball community, along with losing two out of three in Houston against Houston, Sam Houston State and Rice.
Before this past series against South Alabama, the Red Raiders had a fairly easy schedule. They had a series against Maine and UTSA, and a match-up against familiar New Mexico State and UTRGV. If Texas Tech hadn’t won seven or eight games in the first two weeks, there might have been cause for concern.
However, starting this past weekend, Texas Tech has one of the, if not the, most gruesome out of conference schedule remaining. They hosted South Alabama, which was their “easy” multi-game series of the group, before hosting New Mexico for one game, then traveling to Kentucky to play the Wildcats in three games and Louisville for two games.
In those 17 days, they play (or played) the No. 6, No. 13 and No. 15 team in the nation according to D1baseball.com. That’s a tough group to go through.
They started off with a dominating sweep over No.15 South Alabama, who dropped out of the rankings after the beatdown. They outscored them 36-12, with the closest win by two (late) runs and the biggest win by 12 runs. The offense could not be stopped three of the games, and the pitching staff was unstoppable in all but the last game. They made a lot of college baseball fans turn their heads.
Now we have this five game stretch between Kentucky and Louisville in the state of Kentucky. Just to recap their season, the Wildcats are 11-1, which includes big wins over Houston, Sam Houston State and ULL last weekend in Houston. Louisville is undefeated at 11-0 with sweeps over Youngstown State and Western Carolina.
If the Red Raiders can take three of these games, we should see it as a success. It is difficult to defeat a tough team on the road and that guarantees at least one series win. However, if we can win more, that will turn heads all across the college baseball landscape.
Florida’s toughest stretch was at Miami, which was still in their home state. Oregon State’s was facing unranked Nebraska and Ohio State on neutral ground. TCU’s will be facing USC, No. 11 UCLA and No. 15 Vanderbilt in Los Angeles. Florida State’s will hosting a two game series against Kansas. And Arkansas’ was facing Cal Poly, SDST and San Diego in San Diego.
The Red Raiders have the perfect opportunity to give themselves confidence and show that they are the team to beat in college baseball this season.
I was able to watch the UTRGV game and two and a half out of the four games against South Alabama, so I’ll have a little better analysis this week. Here we go:
- Dane Haveman — Someone asked about left handers in the bullpen a while back, and I didn’t know because of the lack of experience. Well Haveman has proven to be the left hander out of the bullpen. I’ve grouped him into the bullpen ladders thus far, but he deserves his own. He struck out five batters in two innings on Friday. Pretty good.
- Ty Harpenau — Ty has really come into his own this season. In four innings of relief for Dylan Dusek in a close game, Harpenau threw four scoreless innings, allowed just one hit and struck out six batters. He was one of the more regarded recruits in a class that featured Martin and Gingery, so it’s good to see him come around.
- Michael Davis — The Lubbock High product performed well in all aspects of the game his past week. He went 2 for 4 and hit a three run homer with outstanding defense against UTRGV. Against South Alabama he went 8 for 16 with six runs scored, five RBIS and another home run. Once again, he had fantastic defense. An error was charged to him, but that was more Holt than him.
- Cameron Warren — There was a lot of hype around what Warren could bring to the team this season, and this past weekend he showed why. This past week he went 10 for 18 with five RBIs, six runs scored and three extra base hits. He was also done great defensively at first base.
- Caleb Kilian — Caleb has become the go-to guy out of the bullpen for Texas Tech. On Saturday during the first game of the doubleheader, Kilian threw three scoreless innings, only allowed one hit and struck out three batters. He has thrown nine scoreless innings so far this season.
- Grant Little — Another big week for Little, as he went 9 for 19 with seven runs scored and two RBIs. He also had four extra base hits, which consists of two doubles, a triple and a home run. His slash line for the season .458/.552/.792 with no errors, 13 RBIs and 19 runs scored. That’s fantastic for the first two and a half weeks.
- Three baggers — Four triples were hit this past week. Josh Jung had two, Gabe Holt had one and Kurt Wilson had one as well. Triples are harder to get than homers most of the time, so this is impressive.
- Caleb Freeman — Freeman was great in his first three appearances, but didn’t fair well in the season finale against South Alabama. In 2.1 innings, he walked three batters, gave up a home run and allowed three earned runs. He was, however, able to cause the double play to end the game.
- Kurt Wilson — After a red hot first weekend as a starter, Wilson had some struggles against UTRGV and South Alabama. The freshman went 1 for 19 with three RBIs and two runs scored. On the bright side, he delivered a big hit on Friday to get the Red Raiders going.
- Walks — There were way too many walks this weekend. Part of the reason was because they were facing a great offense, but giving free passes puts runners on base and runs up the pitch count. There were a combined 27 walks against South Alabama.
- Errors — The Red Raiders also had some uncharacteristic errors this weekend. Michael Davis had a error early in Game 1, although it was more on Gabe Holt. Kurt Wilson and Parker Kelly had errors in Game 2. Josh Jung forced a throw in Game 4 that allowed two runs to score. Can’t have those errors.
- There are just five undefeated teams in Division I baseball after the weekend, as several of them went down this weekend. The group is Auburn, Florida State, Louisville, Oregon State and Texas Tech. The Red Raiders have the best record out of the group at 13-0.
- This may be one of the deepest bullpens I have seen at Texas Tech. In my preview I mentioned the main four relievers out of the bullpen, but there seems to be way more than that this season. Good to know that if a starter gets removed early, the bullpen can secure the lead.
- If you listen to his press conferences, Tadlock loves to say “you try to play the game the right away”. Drink everytime you hear it.
- The Red Raiders are highly ranked in many NCAA Division I categories. This includes OBP (3rd with .463), ERA (9th with 2.00), Triples (1st with 9) and Runs (5th with 118). Texas Tech is also high in HBP (2nd with 33), BA (13th with .334), Double Plays (8th with 14) and WHIP (14th with 1.05).
Big 12 (Rankings according to D1baseball.com the week prior):
- No. 6 TCU — The Horn Frogs defeated UTA 14-1 and won another weekend series against a UC Irvine team that was below .500 last year. They took the first two games 4-3 and 6-2 before struggling in the final game, losing 15-2. TCU could’ve done without that last score.
- No. 23 Texas — The Longhorns defeated UTSA during the week 2-0 before defeating Northwestern in a four game series 3-1. They lost the first game before going on an offensive explosion the final three games, scoring a total of 38 runs
- Oklahoma — The Sooners have to be happy overall about their week. They won the series against a previously undefeated Alabama team, including a walk-off thriller and a beatdown. The downside is that they lost 13-1 on Sunday and lost to No. 25 Dallas Baptist on Tuesday.
- Baylor — The Bears played in the Frisco College Classic this past weekend and went 1-2. They lost to Cal and a close game to No. 10 Texas A&M before defeating Louisiana Tech. Baylor now has a losing record on the season.
- West Virginia — The Mountaineers found something to cheer about last weekend. After falling the first two weekends, West Virginia swept Western Kentucky to go back to .500 on the season. Not a great opponent though, as WKU finished last in Conference USA last year.
- Oklahoma State — The Cowboys didn’t have a great week, as they went 2-3 to fall to 6-4. They split a series at home against Arkansas Little Rock, and traveled to Arizona State where they were blown out their first two games before winning 3-2 in the final game.
- Kansas — The Jayhawks continue to win with a 4-0 week. After defeating Omaha 6-2, they swept a Texas Southern team that made the NCAA tournament last season. Kansas is now 8-2 on the season, which is the second best record in the Big 12.
- Kansas State — The Wildcats recorded their first sweep of the 2018 season when they hosted La Salle. However, it’s not an impressive win as they went 10-41 in the Atlantic 10 last season. Kansas State is now 7-4 on the season.
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