The No. 8 Texas Tech baseball team defeated No. 9 Oklahoma State in the third game of the Lubbock Super Regionals, 8-6, earning them a bid to the College World Series on Sunday at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park.
"I don't know about any type of recap," head coach Tim Tadlock said. "I'm just really proud of these guys. Proud of who they are. Proud of the way they prepare. Proud of the way they compete. I mean, honestly, I think the better team won today."
Rip Griffin Park had 4,782 fans in attendance for game three, making it the ninth-most fans to attend a Tech baseball game in school history. The three-game overall attendance also made the second-most fans in school history to attend a three-game series as 14,347 fans showed up over the weekend.
"Congratulations to Josh (Holliday) and his staff and Oklahoma State," Tadlock said. "These guys, it's not every day you're going to run into a team who's got some guys that can play the game a little bit."
The third game of the Super Regionals started with a hit through the right side by Christian Funk for a single. Funk then stole second for his first stolen base of the season but the Cowboys were unable to capitalize with a runner in scoring position.
After a three up, three down inning, Trevor Boone hit a home run over the left-field wall to give Oklahoma State an early 1-0 lead in the second inning. The home run by Boone was the first dinger that sophomore RHP Bryce Bonnin has given up this season. Bonnin was able to strike out his third and fourth batters in the second inning but had a high pitch count of 44 pitches as the inning ended.
Bonnin earned another strikeout in the top of the third inning as junior Brian Klein fielded a grounder and started a double play to end the inning. The Red Raiders started the bottom of the inning hot with two-straight doubles down the left-field line by freshman Tanner O’Tremba and sophomore Braxton Fulford. Fulford’s double sent O’Tremba home to tie the game, 1-1. Sophomore Dylan Neuse continued with a hot bat as he doubled to center field but was thrown out at third base. The hit sent Fulford home, giving the Red Raiders a 2-1 lead.
The top of the fourth inning ended in a similar fashion as Klein jumped to catch a line drive. The ball fell out of his glove but he recovered it and made the out at second. Junior Josh Jung then threw the batter out at first, ending the top of the inning.
Jung opened the bottom of the fourth inning with a dinger over the right-center wall to grow Tech’s lead, 3-1. The home run marked Jung’s 13th of the season.
Oklahoma State battled back in the fifth inning as Hueston Morrill doubled to left center. Funk followed with a double to right field, sending Morrill home to cut Tech’s lead 3-2. After giving up the run, junior RHP John McMillon relieved Bonnin after he pitched 4.1 innings and earned six strikeouts.
Funk advanced to third as McMillon threw a wild pitch to his first batter of the day. Colin Simpson then sent Funk home to tie the game, 3-3, with a sac fly to right field.
The Lubbock native, Fulford got the Red Raider fans on their feet as he hit a home run over the right-center wall, giving Tech the 4-3 lead in the bottom of the fifth inning.
"Words can't describe what (Fulford) has done for our team, he sacked up backed there and blocked the balls," Jung said. "Last night, he kind of hung his head, he put that game on himself. And I was sitting in the hot tub next to him, and he was in the ice bath, he was just sitting there with his head down, and I was like, 'Hey, kid, you're fine.' And for him to come back, bounce back today be a wall back there, and then he hits the home run off the scoreboard. I never seen him hit a ball oppo, and he puts it off the scoreboard. What a moment for him, especially being from Lubbock. That was pretty cool."
Cade Cabbiness answered back with a home run himself as he sent one over the right-field wall, evening the score, 4-4, in the top of the seventh inning.
Oklahoma State took a 6-4 lead in the eighth inning. The first run, to give the Cowboys a lead, came from Simpson as he hit a solo home run. McMillon then walked Andrew Navigato. After a strikeout, Navigato stole second and a throwing error by Fulford moved the Cowboy to third. Navigato then made his way home off of a sac fly, giving the Cowboys a two-run lead.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Jung showed why he was the No. 8 overall pick in the MLB Draft as he hit his second home run of the game, cutting Oklahoma State’s lead, 6-5.
"(Jung's) 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."
Warren drew a walk to get on base and Tech sent freshman speedster Max to pinch run. Marusak stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch thrown to sophomore Cody Masters. Masters then drew a walk and with two runners on base, sophomore Kurt Wilson hit a three-run dinger deep over the right-center wall to give the Red Raiders a late 8-6 lead.
"Well, I was trying to take a look to see where McMillon was, making sure he wouldn't hurt anything if he got too excited and wanted to make sure he was staying calm in the dugout, and maybe we should have let him get out there and get right in the middle of it," Tadlock said regarding his reaction to Wilson's home run. "At that moment, really you think about keeping your team back and being respectful of the other team and respecting the game, and I'm not sure there is much you can do with a little bit of celebration outside the dugout. The umpires did a good job with it."
McMillon walked his first batter in the ninth inning and junior LHP Dane Haveman was sent to the mound to close the game for the Red Raiders. McMillon struck six batters out in his 3.2 innings pitched.
The top of the ninth inning started with a Haveman strikeout and foul ball caught by sophomore Parker Kelly. The Red Raiders clinched a spot in the College World Series as Haveman struck his final batter of the night out swinging.
Tech will continue its postseason in the College World Series which will be hosted in Omaha, Nebraska form June 15-26 for a shot at a national championship.