The motto for the Texas Tech Athletics Department is “Fearless Champions”. They plug it in every athletics commercial or any kind of advertisement for their sport programs. Over the weekend, Texas Tech truly showed what it meant to be “Fearless” on the diamond.
“Champions” are aggressive. They aren’t afraid to take chances to not only put pressure on their opponent, but to give them team motivation and momentum. Sometimes you will run into outs whenever your opponent makes a good play, but you will also gain more runs than you will being passive.
This is not to be mistaken with bad base running, which is going when you obviously shouldn’t go or the situation doesn’t call for being aggressive (bases loaded with no outs, for instance).
We saw Tadlock and Texas Tech show their approach at it’s maximum this weekend and it worked off well for the Red Raiders. First was the balk-off on Friday afternoon. This is a very confusing sequence of events that caused this to take place, so we’ll start from the top.
Oklahoma was warming up their reliever with a one run lead in the 10th inning when he appeared to injury himself on the mound. The Sooners were forced to bring in their first baseman to pitch since no one was warmed up. Now their first baseman is also a pitcher, but he hasn’t done it much with only 9.2 IP before his appearance. That gave Tadlock the idea of the balk.
After Gabe Holt grounded out, Klein gave Tech their first hit since the fourth inning and Josh Jung walked, setting up a very risky but successful double steal. Their pitcher had been wild, so Tadlock sent both runners and sure enough, the throw was bad once again and allowed Tech two runners in scoring position.
Grant Little proceeded to groundout to allowed pinch runner Connor Beck to score and move Jung to third to set up Cody Masters with two away and a runner at third. In the third pitch of the at-bat, Jung bid hard like he was going home (we late found out he had the green light to steal home), the pitcher freaked out and balked. This allowed Jung to skip home and Tech stole the series opener.
In the second game, Tech ran into a situation where they were up 3-0, but knew that Oklahoma could break out at any moment. With one out in the second inning, Farhat on first, and Zanye Willems at the plate (who was batting .240), Tech decided to steal second in order to have a better chance of scoring that inning.
Willems struck out, but Farhat was able to take second base. However, the throw bounced into center field, and Farhat took off for third. Tadlock gave him the green light to head home, knowing that the Sooners needed a perfect throw to get him out. The throw was not perfect, and Farhat scored.
Later on that inning, Gabe Holt, who is a perfect 21 for 21 on stolen bases this season, tested out the catcher and stole second and third base. This gave Tech a guy on third with two outs instead of a guy on first with two outs. Big difference.
These types of plays can win baseball games and are needed deep in the postseason. It came up handy this weekend and still gave Tech a chance at the Big 12 title. Now let’s look at our up and downs from the past week.
- Josh Jung — Jung had himself quite the week. It started off with a cycle against New Mexico, the team’s first since 2008. He went 5 for 5 with two home runs, four runs scored and eight RBIs. On Friday he had an excellent move to cause the pitcher to balk and Tech to win. On Saturday he hit a three run home run to get he scoring going. Great weekend all around.
- Jose Quezada — Quezada was the hero of Friday not many talked about. He pitched three perfect innings on Friday to keep the game a one run affair and allow Tech a chance to tie the game in the ninth. He also threw two scoreless innings and got the win against New Mexico.
- Zach Rheams — Rheams keeps raking. After going 2 for 6 with a run scored against New Mexico, he hit a solo home run on Friday and went 3 for 5 with three RBIs, a double and a home run on Saturday. Rheams is going to be key come to postseason since he’s batting behind Jung and Little.
- Grant Little — Little had a pretty good week as well. He went 2 for 5 with four RBIs and a home run against New Mexico. Against Oklahoma he went 4 for 12 with four RBIs and four runs scored, along with a home run. He also had a highlight grab on Saturday when Oklahoma was pressuring.
- Ryan Shetter — With the bullpen exhausted on Friday, Tadlock needed Shetter to throw a few innings with a four run lead. He did just that, as he gave up a late run in four innings with six strikeouts. He rested the bullpen and got the job done.
- Brian Klein — Klein went 5 for 14 with three RBIs and four runs scored this past week, which includes a single in the tenth on Friday to get the rally started. He also had to battle the wind in right field and didn’t make a single error.
- Caleb Freeman — Freeman had some good pitching performances this past week. Against New Mexico, he pitched two innings and gave up with one earned run. He pitched a scoreless 0.2 IP in the top of the ninth on Friday and stopped the bleeding in 0.1 IP on Sunday.
- Zayne Willems — I know that he had the goof up in game two and let a ball get past him in the finale, but he did go 5 for 8 with three runs and an RBI in the final two games and gave Tech a chance to score some runs. Always good when the bottom of the order can hit.
- Starters — None of the starters gave Tech any good starts over the weekend. Kilian gave up five runs in five innings, but part of that was due to a big lead and Tadlock wanting him to go five. McMillon couldn’t locate the ball in the first inning, but settled down later on to give up three runs in five. Martin only went four innings, giving up two runs but having guys on base a lot.
- Ryan Sublette — Sublette did not have a good outing against New Mexico. Tech had a come down from a three run deficit. Tech needs to find out who can be the Red Raiders’ four and fifth start come the postseason.
- Kurt Wilson — Wilson had some rough outings. He gave up two runs on Tuesday, although it was in garbage time. Then on Friday, he was given the bat with the bases loaded and one out to win it, but hit into a double play. On Sunday, he gave up two earned runs in 0.1 IP
- Cody Farhat — Farhat struggled with the bat over the weekend, as he went 1 for 11 with two runs scored and an RBI. However, he did come up with a huge at bat with one out on Friday when he walked in the tying run in the ninth.
- Cameron Warren — As hot as Warren has been, it was strange seeing his bat not do much over the weekend. He combined to go 1 for 10 with an RBI. It was not Warren’s weekend.
- Once again, this wind for the Friday and Saturday game was crazy. Although it was more blowing in random directions this weekend then blowing out like it was against Kansas State. Hats off to the Tech players for not dropping a single ball in the wind.
- Boy does Tadlock love his job. After the pitcher balked, Jung and Tadlock were jumping up and down screaming their butts off. When the umpire called it, Jung skipped home and was mobbed by the players, and Tadlock screamed his lungs off. What a home run hire for Hocutt (who was at two games in the stands).
- I know we’re talking about the balk again, but that was the biggest game for Tech and Oklahoma. Don’t be surprise if we see a huge momentum shift with how these teams play in the coming weeks.
- I’m glad that we’ll likely not see Steele Walker again at Oklahoma. He went 11 for 16 with five RBIs and three runs, which includes two doubles and two home runs. He’s projected to be a first or second round pick for a reason.
Big 12 Standings:
Here is what happened over the weekend. With a series win over Oklahoma, the Red Raiders have tied the Sooner at third place in the standings and are close by the Cowboys and Longhorns.
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On the bright side, Texas Tech was able to tie Oklahoma and are still in control of their own destiny with Oklahoma State and Texas still on their schedule. The down side is that Oklahoma State swept Kansas (something the Red Raiders failed to do) and are now two game back on the Cowboys. Tech needs to sweep Oklahoma State or get some help along the way.
The Cowboys remaining schedule is against Oklahoma, with two of them at a neutral ground, a three games series in Baylor, where they are 6-3 in Big 12 play, and hosting the Red Raiders the last series that could decide the Big 12. Meanwhile, Texas travels to West Virginia, comes to Lubbock to face Texas Tech, and then hosts TCU the final series.
Speaking of the Horn Frogs, they were swept by Baylor, and legitimately are on life support as far as the postseason goes. They are barely above .500 with an RPI of 75. That’s crazy considering they have been in the CWS for the past four seasons. That’s what injuries will do to you, especially if your depth isn’t there or isn’t ready.
Big 12 Results:
- Kansas at Oklahoma State — Some bad weather caused the Cowboys to play a double header on Friday and play a game on Sunday. The Cowboys had a close game against the Jayhawks in two of their matches and came away with wins in both of them. Would’ve liked Kansas to at least take one of those games. Now they face the a series against the Sooners, and we’ll need help from the guys from Norman.
- TCU at Baylor — What a rough week for the Horn Frogs. They lost Luken Baker for the year and Jared Janczak possibly for the rest of Big 12 play. They went into Waco and were swept by the Bears, who is the lone team to defeat Texas Tech in Big 12 play. Both these teams are virtually out of the Big 12 race. Baylor travels to Kansas State next weekend, and TCU host our Red Raiders, where Tech is surprisingly dominate at.
- Kansas State at West Virginia — This series had no impact whatsoever on the Big 12 race. We just learned what we knew; that neither of these teams are that great this year and that Morgantown is a sneaky tough place to play. The Mountaineers play Texas next weekend, where hopefully they can steal a game or two.
- New Orleans vs Texas — Texas has had the most Big 12 games played before this weekend when they defeated New Orleans two games out of three. They didn’t sweep, but that’s probably not a huge deal for the Longhorns. They’ll travel to face West Virginia next weekend, which isn’t always the easiest place to play.