The No. 3 Texas Tech baseball team’s offense sparked in Saturday’s doubleheader against Houston Baptist and Northern Colorado. As the Red Raiders scored 46 combined runs in the two games, two freshmen led Tech’s offensive day.
Turning heads in Tech’s opening weekend was freshman catcher/designated hitter, Nate Rombach. In the Red Raiders’ first game of the doubleheader, Rombach hit three home runs, recording seven RBI. In his four at-bats, Rombach scored four runs.
Following the Red Raiders’ 24-3 run-rule win over Houston Baptist, Rombach’s hot bat carried over to help defeat Northern Colorado 22-4. The freshman hit another home run, marking his fourth home run of the day. Of his four home runs, three were three-run homers. He finished the game against Northern Colorado with two hits, two runs and four RBI. This was the first time Rombach has hit four home runs in one day, including his high school career.
“I think the most (home runs) I’ve ever hit in one game was two,” Rombach said. “I may have hit three in one day, maybe in summer ball when we were playing like three or four games in a row, but I have never had that many.”
With his success at the plate, Rombach said fans and his teammates joked with him, telling him they wanted to see more home runs. While having a good day at the plate, Rombach will try and keep his composure going into future games.
“You just kind of have to be where your feet are. In baseball, whether you are having success or struggling, you just have to go into the next day knowing you’re 0-0,” Rombach said. “You can have three home runs one day and three strikeouts the next, so I just have to continue to work hard every single day and just put it behind me and keep trying to help this team win a national championship.”
The spotlight is not new for Rombach as his grandfather is well known in the baseball world. His grandfather coached baseball at Duncanville High School, retiring as the second-winningest coach in Texas high school baseball.
Expectations remained high for Rombach since committing to Tech. Along with a well-known grandfather, Rombach turned down an early start to his pro career after getting drafted by the Marlins in the 19th round.
“Tech has always been a family school. Both my parents went and my brother came here for a year,” Rombach said. “I’ve always just liked Tech, and obviously it’s a great baseball program, but it just felt right for me. It was a right fit for me, and it was just where I wanted to be.”
Rombach was not the only freshman with family ties to Tech as third baseman Jace Jung’s older brother, Josh Jung, was one of Tech’s highest-drafted players in program history after getting selected by the Texas Rangers organization with the eighth overall pick.
After his brother established the family name in Lubbock, Jung made the decision to come to Tech looking to fill his shoes.
“The legacy he left here, I just wanted to continue it,” Jung said. “Just do the best I can for this team and see how far we can make it.”
As he looks to continue the legacy, Jung is off to a great start as he tallied four hits and five runs in Tech’s doubleheader on Saturday. His offensive performance was highlighted with a two-run homer in the first inning and nine RBI collectively. After sending his first ball out of the park, Jung said he rounded the bases with the biggest smile on his face.
Comparing himself to his older brother, Jung said the two have the same work ethic.
“He makes me just want to be better because all he does is work at his craft and just try to perfect his craft, and that’s something I want to do as well,” Jung said regarding his brother. “Any chance I can learn from him, from his mistakes, I’m always for it.”
With this being his first season in scarlet and black, Jung is familiar with Tech baseball as he traveled to several games when his older brother played, including attending the College World Series twice.
As his brother transitioned from playing third base to shortstop last season to fill the defensive void, Jung is going through the same situation. In high school, Jung played shortstop, but since the Red Raiders have opened their season, he has started at third base like his brother.
“At the beginning it was rough. I will admit it was rough,” Jung said regarding the transition. “You just gotta get used to it and learn. Ever since they moved me over there, I think I’ve gotten a lot better at just fielding ground balls and everything. Just making the transition to the hot corner.”
With Jung and Rombach leading the Red Raiders’ offense early, the Red Raiders will look to continue their winning streak this season. Tech is set to play Tennessee, Stanford and Houston at the Round Rock Classic at Dell Diamond Feb. 21-23.