With a predetermined pitch count of 50 to be mindful of, Texas Tech pitcher Trey Masek returned to the mound after an almost month-long absence Sunday night.

Tech took on LCU at 6:30 p.m. at Rip Griffin Park, but lost 6-5.

Masek’s last start was March 16. It was announced he had tendonitis in his right arm. He then took a break right before the West Virginia series.

But Sunday, he returned to the mound to face the Red Raiders’ local rival, LCU.

Masek threw 57 pitches in three innings, allowing three earned runs and six hits. Of those 57 pitches, 35 were strikes.

However, Tech coach Tim Tadlock said Masek’s breaking ball could not find the strike zone.

“His timing wasn’t at all like he’d like it to be,” Tadlock said. “(He) really couldn’t get the breaking ball to be where we wanted it tonight with him. It’s probably where they did most of their damage other than the one homerun on a fastball, but on a positive note, good to see him pitching and the rest will come.”

Masek’s fastball reached up to 94 mph, and Tadlock said Masek’s arm was fine.

“His arm felt fine,” he said. “That was a good thing, though. At least he pitched. I hadn’t seen that in awhile.”

After the Sunday loss, Tadlock said the team was mad about losing to a NAIA team, but some of Masek’s teammates expressed their appreciation for the senior pitcher.

On Friday, Tech relief pitcher Andre Wheeler stressed the importance of having Masek in the clubhouse because of his leadership.

“He’s definitely one of the leaders on the team,” Wheeler said, “whether it be him in the dugout cheering us on or him on the mound getting the batters out.”

Masek does not just affect the pitching staff, but the entire team.

On Friday, Tech third baseman Jake Barrios said it is nice to have Masek back in the pitching rotation.

“We need Trey,” he said. “He’s going to help us a lot, and it’s awesome to have him back.”

However, Masek’s three innings were not enough to come up with the win for the Red Raiders.

Tech plays Rice on Tuesday and Wednesday in Houston.

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