On Thursday night, the Texas Tech Red Raiders saw their season come to a close. It started with a weekend series in Lubbock and ended with a game against the No. 1 team in Omaha.
This was the last season we will see the likes of Dylan Dusek, Michael Davis and Zach Rheams due to graduation. Players like Grant Little, Steven Gingery and Ryan Shetter among others are also likely gone as well due to pro ball. But how should we view this season as a whole?
The Red Raiders had one of the best offenses in the country. The only team that could really have an argument for a better offense was Arkansas and Tennessee Tech, and the latter wasn’t in the Power 5 conference like Tech and Arky.
After great freshman seasons, we saw Josh Jung and Grant Little take even bigger steps and both become All-Americans. Rheams and Warren became the hitter we thought they were going to be in 2017. Klein, Farhat and Davis had some big offensive moments. And Gabe Holt became the next star freshman in Lubbock.
The pitching was a different story. Their preseason All-American went down needing Tommy John, a weekend starter was out for the season after a couple starts, a projected top MLB draft pick was ineffective for most of the season, and another starter got moved to the pen.
However, after rough stretches in early March and late April/early May, everything started clicking. Caleb Kilian came out of the pen and became a good starter, Martin turned in some good performances, and the bullpen combination of Du-Shetter was born.
With Ty Harpeanu, Jose Quezada and John McMillon providing good innings out of the bullpen, Texas Tech had everything they needed to make another run at the College World Series.
They swept their regional, the first time they did that under Tadlock, then defeated Duke in three games to advance to Omaha. Once there, they upset No. 1 Florida once again and moved to the winners bracket for the first time. But loses to both Arkansas and Florida ended the Red Raiders’ season later in the week.
Overall, I will give this season an A. Not quite the highest rating, but pretty damn close. They made it to their third College World Series and for the first time, the winner’s bracket. The offense was terrific and pitching was doable. The only reason why this isn’t an A+ is because they didn’t make it to the final and didn’t win the Big 12.
College World Series Recap: I know back in February I said that Tech could still win the College World Series without Gingery. And I still believe that. If the defense (which was awful for parts of the CWS) doesn’t let Martin down, perhaps Tech wins against Arkansas and doesn’t have to win three games in three days.
If that would’ve happened, with Kilian left and Du-Shetter available, Tech could’ve moved on. But there was no way Tech was going to win in the loser’s bracket with a depleted pitching rotation and lack of bullpen like they did.
Let’s focus on the positive though. Tech defeated the player of the year by some publications and No. 1 Florida. The Gators had no answer for Josh Jung and Grant Little, while Cody Farhat and Gabe Holt had some incredibly clutch hits.
The biggest at-bat in the game though was Cameron Warren’s 14 pitch at bat. Singer looked like he was going to cruise to seven or eight innings, but Warren made him pitch an inning’s worth of pitches and it inspired a two out rally by Farhat, Fulford and Holt that resulted in two runs scored and the lead.
The second game looked bad from the start and it seemed everything went Arkansas’ game. Tech really didn’t get anything going offensively until the last innings, but it was too late. Just like how poor defense doomed Florida in game one, poor defense did the same for Tech in this one.
For Florida, we saw some of those same mistakes from players we aren’t used to having mistakes and are great defenders. Tech showed a lot of heart and had a few three run innings, but with the good part of the pen already used, Tadlock had the rely on the mid-to-back of the pen and Florida kept maintaining their lead.
I think Tadlock had some great moments in this College World Series. The Du-Shetter combo, which I didn’t like for the first game, worked brilliantly against Florida. Switching Warren and Davis around also did a lot of help.
He also had some bad moments. I never got why Holt was in right field after struggling throughout the postseason. I think he can become a great outfielder, but he didn’t have any experience and a mistake in the outfield is greater than a mistake in the infield. Klein looked more comfortable out there.
I’m glad Tim Tadlock is our coach. This is now three College World Series in a five year span, and a six year head coaching career at Texas Tech. We had never seen a team get past the regional round, and now we’ve seen three teams in Omaha. I’d be very surprised in Tadlock doesn’t win one at some point, or at least make the final.
Way Too Early Look At 2019: There’s always a way too early predictions for everything, including the season, off-season, free agency and even drafts (Jarrett Culver going 19th overall in 2019?).
I sort of did something like this for the MLB Draft, so you can read that at the bottom of that story here. It was a fun season guys. Let’s do this all again next season.
MLB Draft Updates: Players have been posting farewells on their social media pages from either graduating or going pro. Here’s an updated lists on those players who posted messages:
- Grant Little – Going Pro
- Steven Gingery – TBA
- Ryan Shetter – Going Pro
- Jose Quezada – Graduated
- Davis Martin – TBA
- Ty Harpenau – Going Pro
- Caleb Kilian – TBA
- Cody Farhat – TBA
- Michael Davis – Thank You
- Dylan Dusek – Thank You
- Zach Rheams – Graduated
- Jacob Lopez – TBA (Lopez is one of eight draftees who haven’t signed with Giants. Dusek has yet to do so, likely due to the CWS)
- Mason Montgomery – TBA