The Texas Tech baseball team survived and advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2019 College World Series after defeating Florida State, 4-1, at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Nebraska on Wednesday.
"Just really proud of Bryce Bonnin, Taylor Floyd," head coach Tim Tadlock said. "Those guys threw the ball awful well, kind of gave us an opportunity to hang around and score some runs and play good baseball. Those guys really went out, threw the ball really good. In the back of your mind obviously you're thinking about 11 (Florida State's head coach Mike Martin) a little bit, and all the respect in the world for him. Love him, and just appreciate everything he's done for college baseball."
With the win, Tech knocked the Seminoles out of the NCAA Tournament while added a win to its record, going 46-19 this season.
The Red Raiders started out slow in the first inning as Florida State’s RHP Conor Grady retired three-straight batters. Despite the zero on the scoreboard in the top of the inning, the Red Raiders sent the Seminoles back to the field as sophomore Dylan Neuse leaped for the final out of the inning at the center-field wall.
Junior Josh Jung earned Tech’s first hit of the game with a double to the left-field wall. The double was Jung’s 23rd of the season, leading the team in the category. Sophomore Cody Masters was walked to put two Red Raiders on base with one out but a Seminole double play ended the hopeful inning for Tech.
Tech’s RHP Bryce Bonnin put another Seminole on base with a walk but ended the second inning with two straight strikeouts to keep the score, 0-0, as the Red Raiders headed into the third inning.
The score remained, 0-0, after the third inning as both teams struggled to get in a groove offensively. After three innings, both the Red Raiders and Seminoles were only able to earn one hit each.
In the fourth inning, Neuse opened the inning with a single to left field. Jung pushed Neuse to second with a walk with senior Cameron Warren up to bat. Warren drove in the first run of the game with a hit through the left side, sending Neuse home for a 1-0 lead.
Following the one-run inning by Tech, Florida State’s Robby Martin drew a walk and Bonnin hit Matheu Nelson with a pitch, putting Seminoles on first and second. A sacrifice bunt moved the runners to second and third base and Braxton Fulford made a throwing error in an attempt to pick Nelson off at second. The error sent Martin home, tying the game, 1-1.
Junior Brian Klein opened the sixth inning with his second dinger of the College World Series, giving the Red Raiders a 2-1 lead. The home run was Klein’s third of the season as it resulted in a Florida State pitching change.
"Yeah, I have no idea where the home runs started to come from, but today it happened that it gave us a really big run, and I'm super thankful for it," Klein said regarding his home runs in Omaha. "All the glory, honor, praise is to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I think it shows how He works in me. I haven't hit a home run all year; no one expects that out of him. But to be able put a barrel on the ball and get it out is an awesome feeling, and to help these guys win behind Bryce and Floyd throwing and Dylan making an amazing play, and having good at-bats all night, it's just awesome."
The Red Raiders sent junior RHP Taylor Floyd to the mound to start the sixth inning after Bonnin pitched in 5.0 innings. Bonnin’s time at the mound came to an end as he struck seven batters out while giving up two hits and an unearned run.
"Yeah, (Bonnin) was in and out, probably really tough to hit, probably really tough to dig in, and he'd miss a little bit, and then he'd throw one in there on the outer third or the inner third," Tadlock said. "I don't think he missed a whole lot in the middle of the plate. Slider was good. I thought Matt did a really good job with him, getting him in the zone when we needed to, and he's had great mound presence since the day he stepped on campus. His first -- everybody wants to talk about his first outing. The results weren't great, but the mound presence has been great since day one. He's a competitor. He's a baseball player, former shortstop, and he wants the ball."
Floyd earned all three outs in the bottom of the sixth inning, striking two batters out swinging and the final batter out looking. He followed with another strikeout in the seventh inning as the Red Raiders headed to the dugout after a double play was made. Klein fielded the grounder, tossed a runner out at second and Jung threw the batter out at first base to keep Tech’s 2-1 lead.
"I felt good. Everything felt good tonight," Floyd said. "I think I was walking some people in some situations, not making pitches earlier in the inning, but just staying with it and being able to bear down with runners on base, I think that was most important. And just giving all our guys a chance to get back in the dugout and score some runs, that's all I was trying to do."
In the eighth inning, Neuse singled to center field and stole second. Klein then made it to first base after he struck out on a passed ball to the backstop, moving Neuse to third base. Jung fired one through the right side to send Neuse home, giving the Red Raiders a 3-1 lead with no outs. Warren continued the streak with an infield single to load the bases, resulting in a Florida State pitching change. Sophomore Kurt Wilson drew a bases-loaded walk, sending Klein home, adding another run to Tech’s lead, 4-1.
Following the offense run, the Red Raiders prevented the Seminoles from chipping away at their lead as Neuse made a highlight dive for a catch in the outfield to stop a run from being scored.
"Well, every pitch I'm ready to catch the balls in the gaps," Neuse said. "Coach taught us to routine, routine, so I'm not real worried about those. I'm trying to make a play for my pitcher. They pitched their butt off all game, three hits, so I was trying to make a game-saving, I guess you could say, catch. But my first jump was good. I knew Gabe couldn't really dive because he wanted to be safe, so I was making sure if he could get there standing up, that I was going to back off, but I thought he was too far, so I just sent it, and it all worked out."
Floyd stayed in the game as he started the ninth inning at the mound. He earned three strikeouts in the ninth to secure the Red Raiders' 4-1 win. Floyd finished the game, pitching in 4.0 innings with eight strikeouts.
"I mean, the young man (Taylor) Floyd that came in and relieved for Texas Tech was throwing sidearm, and he was high 80s," Martin said. "It's really getting challenging year in, year out. That and you have specialty people that can come in and face a couple of people."
As the Red Raiders survived and advanced, Tech advance to the semifinals of the College World Series against Michigan. The first game will be played on Friday at 1 p.m. If Tech wins, the two teams will play a final game on Saturday.