Series Preview & Weekend Thread: Texas Tech vs. Mississippi State & Western Illinois

Series Details:

Dates: Friday, February 17 – Sunday, February 19th
Good Guys: Texas Tech Red Raiders (0-0, 0-0)
Bad Guys: Western Illinois Bulldogs (0-0, 0-0) & Mississippi State Bulldogs (0-0, 0-0)
Location: Dudy Noble Field, Polt-DeMent Stadium | Starkville, Mississippi
Game Notes: Preview | PDF
TV/Stream: SEC+ vs. Mississippi State (both games) — Channel Guide
Radio/Stream: Broadcast Affiliates

News, News, News, News:

 LAJ’s Krista Pirtle writes about how pitching could carry Texas Tech back to the World Series:

“It bugged a lot of people,” sophomore pitcher Davis Martin said. “Freshman year in the weight room we had a lot of guys who were like, ‘I’ve never been a big workout guy,’ and this year everybody’s biting at the bit to do anything extra that they can do to get better. It’s built a fire up inside a lot of us. We’re ready to get it cracking for sure.”

These Red Raiders, the defending Big 12 champions, are don’t just “want to make it to Omaha” anymore.

They’re ready to win it all.

“You have to respect the fact that you went to the World Series. A lot of teams don’t get to that,” Martin said. “But just being there is kind of over with.”

RRS’s Will McKay has a lengthy and excellent preview of the team, including a projected lineup. I think there’s some spots that are pretty well set, Orlando Garcia at shortstop, Tanner Gardner at centerfield, Hunter Hargrove at 1st, Michael Davis at second and then the rest will be left to interpretation by Tadlock. Tadlock is expected, according to McKay, to have Zach Rheams DH, Josh Jung at third base and when Connor Beck is healthy, playing right field:

Rheams and Beck likely have the biggest bats of any of this year’s newcomers, specifically Beck who turned heads with his power at the plate and ability in the outfield during both fall ball and early this spring. He’s a little banged up with an undisclosed sprain right now, however, and will likely be limited early on in the season, meaning true freshman Grant Little or JUCO transfer Cameron Warren could start in right field this weekend. Rheams will be the DH out of the gates, though, and will provide some needed pop in the lineup.

Jung will be intriguing to watch early on as a true freshman, but he’s certainly no slouch. The youngster has all the tools to excel at the hot corner defensively, and he’s underrated as a hitter. Look for him to be the youngster on this roster that turns heads early and has seemingly already locked down a starting spot at third.

Probable Starters & Recaps:

Game 1: Friday, February 17 @ 1:00 pm
Texas Tech Starting Pitcher: RHP Davis Martin (10-1, 2.25)
Western Illinois Starting Pitcher: J.T. Baksha (0-2/9.39)
Final Score & Box Score: Texas Tech 15, Western Illinois 1 (Recap | Box Score)

This was not much of a contest.  Davis Martin sent 6 innings, allowing just 4 hits, 1 run, striking out 7 and walking none. A quiet and dominating performance. Ty Harpenau followed with 2 innings of 2 hit and no-run innings, striking out 3 and walking 1 while John McMillon pitched the final frame, walking 1 and striking out 3. McMillion is a freshman from Jasper, a big kid at 6’3″ and 250, was drafted by the Tampa Bay Rays in the 21st round last year and also knocked the cover off of the ball.

Offensively, Texas Tech had all of the hits. Hunter Hargrove was 4 for 5 with a home run, and 4 RBI. Orlando Garcia also hit a dinger, going 1 for 5 with 3 RBI and that home run. Michael Davis was 3 for 5 with an RBI. New DH Zach Rheams registered only 1 at bat and no hits, but was credited with 2 RBI after walking 3 times (you don’t see that often). Freshman Grant Little was 2 for 4 with 2 RBI and fellow freshman Josh Jung was 2 for 5 with an RBI.

Overall, Texas Tech pounded out 13 hits and 12 walks on the day.

Game 2: Friday, February 17th @ 4:00 pm
Texas Tech Starting Pitcher: LHP Steven Gingery (4-2, 3.18)
Mississippi State Starting Pitcher: Konnor Pilington (3-1, 2.08)
Final Score & Box Score: Texas Tech 5, Mississippi State 2 (Recap | Box Score)

Steven Gingery was terrific in his first start of the year, going 7 innings allowing just 4 hits, 1 earned run, 2 walks, and 8 strikeouts. John Henry Gonzalez registered just 1 out, and walked 2 before being replaced by Parker Mushinski, who went a full inning, allowing a hit and walking 2 and striking out 2, while Jose Quezada earned the save, getting the final 2 outs, allowing a hit, a walk and striking out 2. Just to catch you up, Gonzalez is from Edinburg, another big freshman going 6’0″ and 235, while Quezada is the exact opposite and is essentially my size as he he runs 5’9″ and 175 and played at Howard College last year, going 9-1 and striking out 59 in 63.2 innings.

Freshman 3B Josh Jung was 2-4 with 2 RBI and Orlando Garcia had a triple going 1 for 4 with 2 RBI, and Michale Berglund was 1 for 3 with a double and an RBI.

For the record, this was the second game of a double-header for Texas Tech, but this was Mississippi State’s first game of the year so they were as fresh as they could have been.

Game 3: Saturday, February 18th @ 2:00 pm
Texas Tech Starting Pitcher: RHP Ryan Shetter (4-2, 4.02)
Western Illinois Starting Pitcher: TBA
Final Score & Box Score: Texas Tech 13, Western Illinois 5 (Recap | Box Score)

The game was relatively close, essentially 5-2 through 5 innings, but Texas Tech scored 2 runs in the 6th and 6 more in the 7th to break things open.

Ryan Shetter gets his first win of the year with 6 innings pitched, giving up 4 hits, 2 runs, striking out 6 and walking none. Jacob Patterson, Jake McDonald and Caleb Freeman each pitched an inning. Patterson (just to catch you up on some of these players, Patterson signed with Texas Tech as a freshman) gave up 2 hits and a run while striking out 2. McDonald (a true freshman from Maud standing at 6’4″/200) gave up no hits while striking out 1. Freeman (a true freshman from Cooper at 6’3″ and 205) gave up 1 hit, 2 runs, walked 2 and struck out 2.

True freshman Grant Little led off, going 2 for 5, scoring 3 runs while knocking in 2 RBI. Michael Davis battled second and was pretty good as well, going 3 for 5 with 3 RBI and a home run. Josh Jung was 2 for 3 and Ryan Long was 3 for 4 with 2 RBI. Orland Garcia was 2 for 5 with 2 RBI. Overall, the offense pounded out 17 hits. It’s early, but the offense seems to be pretty good.

Game 4: Sunday, February 19th @ 3:00 pm
Texas Tech Starting Pitcher: LHP Erikson Lanning (3-4, 5.02)
Mississippi State Starting Pitcher: RHP Ryan Cyr (1-1, 1.04)
Final Score & Box Score: Mississippi State 8, Texas Tech 5 (Recap | Box Score)

One rough game out of four, I can take it I suppose. Starter Erikson Lanning only made it 2.1 innings, giving up 3 runs, walking 1 and striking out 1, while he was replaced by Jose Quezada came in relief going 1.2 innings, giving up 3 hits, 3 runs, striking out 3, walking 2 and hitting 2 batters. That’s 6 runs right there. Jacob Patterson, Parker Mushinski, Jake McDonald and John McMillon all pitched additionally in relief.

Freshman Grant Little went 2 for 5, scoring a run. Hunter Hargrove went 1 for 4 with a home run and an RBI. Zach Rheams, Josh Jung, and Ryan Long all had 1 hit with Long producing 2 RBI.

Texas Tech plays a mid-week game against New Mexico State in Lubbock on Tuesday and then hosts Cal for a four game series this weekend also in Lubbock.

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