The No. 6 Texas Tech baseball team opened its 2020 season with a 5-1 win against Houston Baptist at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park on Friday.
"I think I like the ability to get one (game) under our belts," head coach Tim Tadlock said following the game. "What I mean by that is being able to play and kind of knock the nerves out a little bit."
The season opener was dominated by the pitching of Tech’s RHP Clayton Beeter and Houston Baptist’s Kyle Gruller in the first four innings of the game. In the first four innings of play, Beeter struck six batters out, giving up just one hit. Gruller struck eight batters out in the same amount of time, giving up one hit as well.
"We ran (Beeter) out there in game one because he's got great composure, great makeup, power stuff," head coach Tim Tadlock said. "He's got a chance to do that and he got the chance to make it look pretty easy at times."
Tech’s freshman Jace Jung ended the top of the fifth inning with back-to-back stops and third followed by a throw on the run to first. This sent the Red Raiders to the dugout as a trio of freshmen would help put Tech on the scoreboard for the first time this season.
"For opening day, I thought (Jung) handled himself really well," Tadlock said. "He barreled a couple of balls. It's fun to watch him."
Freshman designated hitter Nate Rombach opened the bottom of the fifth inning getting on base after being hit by a pitch. Freshman left fielder Dillon Carter followed with a double up the middle to move Rombach to third base. Freshman Cal Conley then recorded an RBI after grounding out to shortstop, giving Tech a 1-0 lead.
With Carter at third, junior center fielder Dylan Neuse was walked. Although Neuse was walked, Houston Baptist’s catcher tried to pick Carter off at third. Carter sprinted home and with the help of errors committed by both the catcher and third baseman, he scored Tech’s second run of the game. Senior second baseman Brian Klein then sent Neuse home, sending one up the middle to give Tech a 3-0 lead. The run also marked the end of Gruller’s time at the mound.
Houston Baptist sent Brent Pronger to the mound with two outs in the fifth inning, but it did not stop the Red Raiders’ offense as junior Braxton Fulford was walked, followed by a single up the middle by Jung to send Klein home. The scoring for Tech ended with a hit to shortstop by sophomore first baseman Cole Stilwell, sending Fulford home. The Red Raiders led 5-0 going into the sixth inning.
Following Tech’s five-run inning, Houston Baptist opened the sixth inning with a double down the left-field line by Nathan Soriano. He advanced to third off a wild pitch and made his way home with the help of an RBI groundout by Ryne Edmondson, cutting Tech’s lead 5-1.
After pitching in the first six innings, Beeter was relieved by sophomore RHP Micah Dallas. In his 6.0 innings pitched, Beeter struck six batters out, giving up two hits and one earned run.
"We just had a good plan going right at them and not trying to do anything fancy," Beeter said. "Just filling up the zone and that was what was working pretty much."
Dallas closed the game for the Red Raiders, securing their first win of the season. In his 3.0 innings pitched, Dallas struck out six batters without giving up a single hit, run or walk.
"My fastball command was where I wanted it and my slider was moving pretty decently," Dallas said.
Tech is set to continue its season with a doubleheader on Saturday. The Red Raiders will play Houston Baptist at noon, followed by a game against Northern Colorado approximately 45 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.