The No. 2 Texas Tech baseball team secured its series sweep against Rice with a 7-6 walk-off win in the 11th inning at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park on Sunday.
"I'm really proud of the way they fought and the resiliency they showed," head coach Tim Tadlock said.
With the win, the Red Raiders improve to 16-1 overall this season, extending their winning streak to 12 games. The win also protected Tech’s undefeated record at home, going 11-0 in Lubbock.
Opening the game, sophomore RHP Austin Becker struggled at the mound for the Red Raiders, getting pulled after 0.1 innings pitched. Becker started the game with 10 consecutive balls, walking three batters to load the bases. A grounder was sent to freshman third baseman Jace Jung and a fielding error on the fielder’s choice out kept the bases loaded, scoring Bradley Gneiting to give Rice an early 1-0 lead. A bases loaded walk and double to left field scored Trei Cruz, Austin Bulman and Cade Edwards to grow Rice’s lead 4-0.
"I want to see him be able to go out there and have 70 to 100 pitches and be able to throw them all," Tadlock said. "It's easier said than done. He couldn't do that today pretty much because of the walks but he's a guy with great stuff, great mound presence still. He's got a good heart rate, I believe that as far as when he pitches. Just need to get him in the spot during the week to allow him to do that."
Freshman Andrew Devine was then sent to the mound and closed the top of the inning for the Red Raiders.
"I think as his second outing of the weekend, that's good to see. The second time we've seen that," Tadlock said. "He was really sharp. When he came un the game, it wasn't exactly going real good."
Following the four-run inning, junior center fielder Dylan Neuse drew a walk and was sent home off a double to right field by freshman shortstop Cal Conley. Neuse’s run scored to cut the Owls’ lead 4-1 after one inning of play.
After 2.2 innings of work, Devine struck out two batters and gave up two hits while giving up no runs. Sophomore RHP Hunter Dobbins took the mound to start the fourth inning, relieving Devine.
The Red Raiders sent another new arm to the mound in the fifth inning as freshman LHP Jon Barrera entered the game, ending Dobbins’ time pitching. In his 1.0 inning pitched, Dobbins struck a batter out and did not give up a hit or run. Despite walking a batter and a wild pitch moving him to third base, Barrera struck a batter out swinging to prevent Rice from adding a fifth run to the board.
Backing the pitching, freshman left fielder Dillon Carter opened the bottom of the fifth inning with his first triple of the season. Conley sent Carter home with a groundout to second base to cut the Owls’ lead 4-2.
Tech sent its fifth pitcher of the day to the mound in the sixth inning as junior LHP Jakob Brustoski started the inning. Brustoski’s time at the mound ended in the seventh inning as senior RHP John McMillon replaced him after 1.1 innings pitched. Brustoski gave up two hits and a walk while recording one strikeout.
McMillon loaded the bases with a walk and then threw a bases-loaded walk to send Cruz home, growing Rice’s lead 5-2 going into the bottom of the inning.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, the Red Raiders loaded the bases with one out, courtesy of a single and two walks. Sophomore first baseman Cole Stilwell grounded into a double play to end the inning, preventing the Red Raiders from capitalizing.
Junior RHP Kurt Wilson took the mound to start the eighth inning, being the Red Raiders’ seventh pitcher to appear in the game. Wilson hit Dominic Cox with a pitch to open the inning. Two groundouts moved Cox to third base and he scored on a wild pitch, extending the Owls’ lead 6-2.
"Tadlock talked to me today, I'm thankful he did," Wilson said. "He pretty much was like, 'Kurt, when you're hitting you have courage and bring a fire to you. Do that on the mound.' When you put it like that it seems easy, so I'm glad he did that and talked to me about it. I'm really thankful for it."
Jung opened the bottom of the inning with a walk and moved to third base as sophomore Dru Baker doubled to right field. Sophomore right fielder Max Marusak followed with a single to left-center to send Jung and Baker home, to cut Rice’s lead 6-4.
Wilson backed the offense in the top of the ninth inning, striking out the side to send the Red Raiders to the bottom of the inning, down by two. In the bottom of the ninth inning, the Red Raiders loaded the bases and Jung drew a walk to send Conley home, cutting the Rice lead 6-5.
Freshman catcher Nate Rombach then hit a sac fly to center field to send senior second baseman Brian Klein home to tie the game 6-6, sending the game into extra innings.
Sophomore RHP Micah Dallas took the mound to start the 10th inning and retired three consecutive batters to send Tech into the bottom of the inning. Dallas continued his performance at the mound in the 11th, keeping the Owls from scoring a run.
"I'm proud of Micah," Tadlock said. "Micah kind of fought threw the inning. I don't know if he really had his best stuff or his best command but he got through it."
In the bottom of the 11th inning, Klein drew a walk to open the inning. Redshirt freshman T.J. Rumfield was sent to the plate, pinch-hitting for junior Parker Kelly. Rumfield fired one down the left-field line to score Klein, giving the Red Raiders a 7-6 walk-off win.
"T.J., he's a guy that's been sitting there all day, all weekend. To come off the bench and be mentally prepared at that moment," Tadlock said. "I'm really proud of him."
The Red Raiders will look to carry the momentum of two comeback wins into their midweek series as they will travel to Biloxi, Mississippi to take on No. 13 Mississippi State on Tuesday and Wednesday.