In the three-game Super Regional, the Red Raiders played in front of one of the largest crowds Rip Griffin Park has seen. The total attendance for the series consisted of 14,347 fans, making it the second-most fans to attend a three-game series in school history.
With the Super Regionals series win, the Red Raiders will make their fourth College World Series appearance in the last six season, according to Tech Athletics. The appearance also marks the first time that Tech has made back-to-back College World Series appearances in the stretch.
“I don't know if I want to think about what I feel,” head coach Tim Tadlock said regarding his feelings about making the College World Series. “What I do know is June 26th or 27th, you can win the whole thing. We're five games away from doing that, and that's a long time. There's going to be distractions along the way, but it's usually play a game, take a day, play another game. So that's not necessarily what I feel, but that's our plan. We plan on playing.”
Heading into the Super Regionals, the Red Raiders faced the Cowboys towards the end of their regular season with a three-game series at home, according to Tech Athletics. In the Big 12 series, Tech swept Oklahoma State, 3-0, winning by a margin of 29-8.
Tech started the Super Regionals strong as they defeated Oklahoma State, 8-6, to open the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Red Raiders’ freshman RHP Micah Dallas led the team defensively as he earned a career-high nine strikeouts in just 5.0 innings pitched, according to Tech Athletics. Dallas gave up five hits and three runs (two earned), earning him the win at the mound in his first appearance in the Super Regionals.
“(Oklahoma State), they're a great offense,” Dallas said. “If you leave it up, they'll for sure make you pay. That was the game plan going in, try and miss low, just try to get some ground balls. If they swing and miss, they swing and miss.”
Oklahoma State started to come back after the Red Raiders maintained an early lead they earned as the Cowboys made it a one-run game in the seventh inning. Junior Josh Jung then swung the momentum back in the Red Raiders’ favor after he hit his 12th home run of the season to give Tech a 7-5 lead in the bottom of the seventh.
The Cowboys then answered back with another run in the eighth inning and were looking to tie the game with a hit up the middle but Jung made a highlight play as he dove for the stop and made the out at first to end the inning with a one-run lead.
“One of the biggest things we pride ourselves on is not giving up too many runs,” Jung said. “Seemed like we hit a lapse on defense for a second, two or three errors. We were just looking for that one play. Anyone on the field could have made it. Just happened to be me this time. I think it sparked us to get through the rest of the game.”
A sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth while the bases were loaded sent freshman Max Marusak home to give the Red Raiders an 8-6 lead and junior RHP John McMillon closed the game with three-straight strikeouts to secure Tech’s first win of the Super Regionals.
Following the win, the Red Raiders came up short in game two, losing 6-5 after a hard-fought battle, forcing Tech and Oklahoma State to a winner-take-all game three for a trip to the College World Series.
Another freshman had a standout performance as Dru Baker made his first start since April 30. Baker landed on base in the first inning off of a four-pitch walk and was almost thrown at home, but after an official review, Baker’s incredible swim slide dodged the Cowboys’ catcher’s tag to tie the game, 1-1.
“(Baker) put together some good at-bats,” Tadlock said. “It's been pretty much a month, and he's been working really hard. His preparation has been really good. I mean, he's been a shortstop, and I think the month was probably good for him, and he had some big swings today.”
Baker then tied the game, 3-3, in the seventh inning with a solo home run, making it his third of the season. He then earned an RBI-single with a hit through the left side to send sophomore Cody Masters home, giving the Red Raiders a 4-3 lead.
Although Baker had an impressive game in his first start of the postseason, Oklahoma State’s offense gave the Red Raider pitching staff a hard time.
Junior RHP Connor Queen pitched in one inning and struck three-straight batters but was relieved by junior LHP Dane Haveman in the eighth inning. Haveman gave up a two-run dinger to Colin Simpson which gave Oklahoma State a 5-4 lead in the eighth. The dinger was Haveman’s first home run given up this season.
Sophomore Gabe Holt tied the game up off of a sac fly hit by junior Brian Klein in the top of the ninth inning but the Lubbock native, Noah Sifrit, came in clutch for the Cowboys in the bottom of the inning. Sifrit was walked and advanced to third on two wild pitches thrown by junior RHP Taylor Floyd and on a third wild pitch, Sifrit sprinted home to defeat the Red Raiders, 6-5, forcing a game three.
“There's high-level athletes on both sides, some of their kids so some remarkable things,” Oklahoma State’s head coach Josh Holliday said. “(Holt), his hand/eye coordination is about as good as I've ever seen. I've never seen a hitter who can hit so many pitches in so many quadrants. He is just really, really good, to go along with some of the others that are outstanding. Just good athletes on the field playing good baseball. You got to watch one heck of a game.”
The final game of the Lubbock Super Regional was hosted on Sunday with winds blowing 25 mph out of the park towards right field. The Red Raiders took advantage of the wind, resulting in an 8-6 win to put the Red Raiders in the College World Series.
Jung proved his worth as the No. 8 overall pick in the MLB Draft as he hit two dingers in the winner-take-all game against Oklahoma State. His first home run occurred in the fourth inning, giving the Red Raiders a 3-1 lead over the Cowboys. The Red Raiders trailed by two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning and Jung made it a one-run game after hitting a bomb out of the park to open the inning.
“(Josh is) a guy that through all of his preparation, man, there is not any doubt that he's going to go trust what he does and really cool to see him hit a home run his last at-bat,” Tadlock said. “Cooler to see his teammates pick him up and pick everybody up throughout the game, all the things that happened.”
Senior Cameron Warren followed Jung’s homer in the eighth with a walk and Tech send the freshman speedster in to Max Marusak to pinch run. Masters then also landed on base off of a walk to put two runners on base for Tech. Sophomore Kurt Wilson then came in clutch for the Red Raiders as he hit a three-run dinger deep over the right-center wall, giving Tech an 8-6 lead, heading into the ninth inning.
“(Wilson), huge at-bat,” Jung said. “I think he was (0-3) going into that at-bat, and I looked over at him and I said, ‘Hey, this is your time. Those other at-bats don't matter,’ and he goes up there, and I've never seen somebody more intense in a moment, but hits one to the scoreboard, just unbelievable. Great experience.”
Haveman shook off the two-run home run he gave up in game two as he started the ninth inning with a strikeout. Sophomore Parker Kelly then caught a foul ball for the second out of the inning and Haveman made Rip Griffin Park shake as he struck the final Cowboy of the game out to earn a bid to the College World Series as he secured the Red Raiders’ 8-6 victory.
“Well, you know Dane (Haveman) is a guy who wants the ball, no matter what. When presented the opportunity he's always going to go attack it,” McMillon said. “He can pick me up. We gotta a bunch of guys in the bullpen that can pick me up, and Dane was not shy of the moment tonight. I'm really proud of him.”
With the Red Raiders’ game-clinching final innings, Tech will appear in the College World Series for the second-straight year. The College World Series will be hosted in Omaha, Nebraska from June 15-26 as the winner of the tournament will be named the 2019 national champions.