The No. 8 Texas Tech baseball team advanced to the Super Regional of the postseason after defeating Dallas Baptist, 3-0, at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park on Sunday.
As the 2019 Lubbock Regional concluded, Tech fans packed Rip Griffin Park as the Red Raiders played in front of three-straight sellout crowds of 13,776 fans in total. With the regional-clinching win, the Red Raiders posted a 42-17 overall record this season while going 3-0 in the postseason and 28-6 at home.
"I don't know about you guys, I had a lot of fun watching (Dallas Baptist and Tech)," head coach Tim Tadlock said. "Our group's a lot of fun to watch, offensively, defensively. Really, in every phase of the game, they never cease to amaze me, how fun they are to watch. Not saying it's always perfect. Baseball is not perfect. But you run out there in Game 3, real stuff, and then obviously your starters right there, Bryce (Bonnin) really threw the ball well. Really proud of him."
Tech’s starting pitcher sophomore RHP Bryce Bonnin retired the first three Patriots in order as sophomore Dylan Neuse caught two fly balls in center field in his first start of the postseason. Sophomore Gabe Holt then opened the bottom of the inning with a hit up the middle for a single. He then stole second and made his way to third on a sac fly to the outfield. Tech put runners on the corners as junior Josh Jung was hit by a pitch and senior Cameron Warren sent everyone home as he earned his third home run of the postseason, giving the Red Raiders a 3-0 lead in the first inning.
The Red Raiders’ pitching and defense kept the Patriots from scoring a run as Bonnin only gave up one hit and a walk in his first five innings at the mound. Bonnin also struck four batters out in his first five innings at the mound. Jung also made an impressive sliding stop at shortstop and made the throw to first as Warren caught the ball in the dirt to prevent a hit.
"You know, this whole season, (my pitching has) been getting better every week," Bonnin said. "Those coaches have had a plan with how they deal with us as a team and individually and I feel like they really helped me develop and been able to throw more strikes. Been able to get quick innings, and obviously I've got a great defense behind me. Just makes it really easy."
Entering the bottom of the fifth inning, Dallas Baptist made its first pitching change, relieving their newcomer Cole Reeves at the mound. Peyton Sherlin took the mound after Reeves gave up four hits, three runs and a walk in his four innings pitched. Sherlin walked Holt in the fifth inning but he was left on first as the Patriots earned two-straight outs to end the inning.
Bonnin continued with a strong presence at the mound as he struck three more batters out in the sixth and seventh innings. Bonnin also finished with a season-high seven innings pitched, only giving up three hits and two walks while striking seven batters out.
"You know, really just throwing strikes," Bonnin said regarding what has become easier at the mound as the season progressed. "I feel like that's always been my biggest downfall, and you know, I've just put all my trust into these coaches and (Fulford) done behind the plate and know every game we go in with a plan and just to execute it, not to do too much, trust your stuff. Things like that."
The Patriots made another pitching change, sending Kragen Kechely to the mound for the final out as Sherlin walked Holt. The Red Raiders followed, sending junior RHP John McMillon to the mound to start the eighth inning. Jung mad a highlight stop and throw to first base for the first out of the inning as McMillon ended the inning with two strikeouts.
"One thing I want to speak to is just our defense," Jung said. "We're playing lockdown D right now, and it's a lot of fun to play defense when your pitchers go up there and are pounding the zone like Bryce (Bonnin) did tonight. It's a lot of fun to play back there when it's 0-1, 0-2 all the time, bouncing around, lots of high energy and just the energy in the ballpark, that's just fun to play in front of."
Jung opened the bottom of the eighth inning with a double down the right-field line. With Jung on base, Dallas Baptist intentionally walked Warren as he has earned two hits in his three at-bats of the game. The Patriots then made another pitching change, sending Ray Gaither to the mound. Gaither earned two strikeouts, preventing Tech from scoring any insurance runs.
McMillon made his presence at the mound known as he struck two-straight batters out swinging in the top of the ninth inning. He then gave up a single but struck a third and final batter out to secure the Red Raiders' spot in the Super Regional round of the postseason.
"I think the confidence is very high, especially when you are pitching staff goes out there like that and just has a great weekend," Jung said. "We used, what, like two guys really out of the pen and we had two other guys come out and throw one inning apiece. We didn't even get to use everybody on the team, so that just speaks to our starting pitching going out there and throwing the ball really well. So we're really confident."
With the win, the Red Raiders became regional champions as they advance to the Super Regional against either Oklahoma State or the University of Connecticut at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park from June 7-10. The winner of the Super Regional will advance to the College World Series.