The Texas Tech baseball team survived elimination after playing their first two games of the 2019 College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.
Tech opened with the first game of the College World Series against Michigan on Saturday where they lost, 5-3.
Michigan came off of knocking the No. 1 national seed out of the NCAA Tournament in the Super Regional round. The momentum from the win carried as Jordan Nwogu earned a leadoff single in the first at-bat of the game. A sacrifice hit, a passed ball and sacrifice fly sent Nwogu home to give the Wolverines an early 1-0 lead.
The Wolverines continued with the hot bats, growing their lead to 4-0 in the second inning. The runs came off a two-RBI triple by Jimmy Kerr and an RBI single by Blake Nelson to send Kerr home.
Sophomore Dylan Neuse followed the three-run inning by Michigan with a single to right field. With Neuse on base, junior Brian Klein earned his second home run this season, sending one over the right-center wall. The junior’s eight home run of his collegiate career cut the Wolverines’ lead, 4-2.
Although most of the runs came off of errors or missed opportunities on the defensive end, the freshman starting pitcher, Micah Dallas’ time at the mound came to an end in the fourth inning. The freshman gave up four runs (three earned) and six hits while striking two Wolverines out.
"We wouldn't be (in Omaha) without Micah Dallas," Tadlock said. "There's nobody that feels worse than Micah right now. He takes it upon his shoulders to go out and pitch into the sixth or seventh inning every time, and he's done that quite a bit. He just had a bad day, and Michigan had a really good day."
The Red Raider pitching staff struggled against Michigan as Tech’s pitchers only struck six batters out collectively. Along with Dallas’ two, junior RHP Connor Queen struck three batters out and junior LHP Dane Haveman earned one.
Tech’s junior Josh Jung and senior Cameron Warren landed on base in the sixth inning with a single and double, placing Jung on third and Warren on second. Freshman Dru Baker sent Jung home with a hit to second base for an RBI to make it a one-run game.
Michigan added a run to its lead in the seventh inning off of a throwing error to first base by Jung.
"It's a play we've seen Josh (Jung) make at third and short," Tadlock said regarding Jung's error. "We've actually bragged about it a little bit. Maybe we need to quit doing that. It's also a play when he's throwing it bad where Cam (Warren) has picked him up. Between those two things happening on that play, I'd bet the house the next time either one happens, we get an out, either Cam is going to pick it or Josh is going to hit him in the chest, one or the other. Just one of those deals. It does give them a little bit of separation. But we had opportunities. I mean, we had a lot of pitches to hit. I mean, even in the ninth we had pitches to hit."
The Red Raiders were unable to come back from Michigan’s two-run advantage, resulting in a 5-3 loss. The loss put Tech in the loser’s bracket of the College World Series, playing the No. 5 national seed, Arkansas.
In the elimination game on Monday, Tech’s starting pitcher Caleb Kilian had a strong start as he retired the first three Razorbacks of the game. Kilian then gave up a home run in the second inning to Heston Kjerstad to put the Red Raiders behind by one run. A single, triple and infield hit added two more runs to Arkansas’ lead in the third inning.
Warren cut the Razorbacks’ lead, 3-2, with a two-run dinger over the left-center wall to give the team a little bit of momentum. Warren’s home run marked his 18th of the season and a Big 12 leading 78th RBI.
Sophomore Easton Murrell then followed with a home run to tie the game, 3-3, in the fifth inning as he made his first start of the College World Series, hitting leadoff. The former Razorback’s home run was his first of the season with Tech.
“Really just felt like the left-handed bat was the right thing to stick in there,” Tadlock said regarding Murrell’s first start as the leadoff hitter. “And then the advantage he has by he's seen everybody out of their bullpen, the older guys. He's seen them a number of times. So a little bit of both went into it.”
A third Red Raider hit a home run off of Arkansas as Jung fired one over the right-center wall to give Tech its first lead of the College World Series, 4-3. The home run marked Jung’s 15th of the season and 57th RBI of the year.
Kilian’s time at the mound came to an end after he pitched 7.0 innings. The junior broke a program record with nine strikeouts, which is the most a Red Raider has earned in the College World Series.
“I think it improved throughout the game,” Kilian said regarding his breaking ball. “I don't think it was that great at the beginning. But I felt like I had good command with all my pitches for the most part, and I think that's what really helped me out.”
With junior LHP Dane Haveman taking the mound, Arkansas put runners on the corners in the eighth inning, tying the game with a sacrifice fly by Jack Kenley.
In the bottom of the eighth inning with two outs, Warren drew a walk to put himself on first base. Sophomore Cody Masters then fired a hit to the right-center wall for a triple sending Warren home as he rounded the bases with speed, giving the Red Raiders a 5-4 lead heading into the final inning of the game.
“Honestly whenever -- I didn't see that I was stealing,” Warren said. “That's the first time I've stolen in so long, and I didn't even look in, and it got so loud and I heard it off the bat, I was like, I think it's gone but I was like I gotta run. Then I saw J-Bob at third base telling me to go, so I was like, come on, big boy, you've got to score.”
Junior RHP Taylor Floyd secured the Red Raiders’ win after taking the mound with two runners on base. An infield fly, strikeout and a fly ball in the outfield secured Tech’s first win of the 2019 College World Series.
“We had a hunch these guys were going to be fun to watch with their backs against the wall,” Tadlock said. “We really hadn't been in that position throughout the year. Played really good baseball pretty much, and we try to approach each day and good win that day and play the game the right way.”
The win eliminated the No. 5 national seed from the College World Series. The Red Raiders will continue their run for the national title on Wednesday as they will play the loser of the Michigan and Florida State game at 6 p.m. in Omaha.