In its first sellout of the season, the No. 2 Texas Tech baseball team defeated Rice 6-1 to open the three-game series on Friday at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park.
"The crowd was awesome tonight," head coach Tim Tadlock said. "Really, really cool to be able to play a night game, and get some people out and get to share our guys with our fans. I appreciate everyone coming out for sure."
With the win, the Red Raiders are now 14-1 this season, protecting their undefeated record at home, going 9-0 in Lubbock. The win also marked the 10th consecutive win for Tech after suffering a loss to Tennessee at the Round Rock Classic.
Starting at the mound, sophomore RHP Clayton Beeter kept the Owls runless in the first inning, leaving a runner stranded on second base. Beeter finished the inning with two strikeouts.
The Red Raiders started the bottom of the first inning with a groundout and flyout but did not let it affect them as they scored two runs in the inning. Senior second baseman Brian Klein was the first to get on base after drawing a two-out walk. He was then sent home by sophomore first baseman Cole Stilwell off a double to left field to give Tech a 1-0 lead. Freshman third baseman Jace Jung then followed with a double down the left-field lined to send Stilwell home, growing the lead 2-0 going into the second inning.
Beeter’s success at the mound continued in the second inning, striking out the side to make five recorded strikeouts in seven batters faced off 29 pitches.
"It felt pretty good," Beeter said regarding his outing. "I gave up a few more hits than I'd like but I had a really good feel for the breaking ball tonight so it's kind of what I played off of."
Rice cut Tech’s lead in half in the third inning. Braden Comeaux reached first on a fielder’s choice hit to the first baseman and advanced to second on a passed ball. Comeaux was then sent home on an RBI single to left field by Cade Edwards, cutting the Red Raiders’ lead 2-1 going into the bottom of the inning. The run did not blemish Beeter’s stat line as it was ruled unearned. He also struck two batters out to give him seven on the night.
Answering back from the run given up in the top of the inning, the Red Raiders put runners on the corners courtesy of back-to-back singles by Klein and Stilwell. Klein was then sent home off a sac fly hit by Jung to grow Tech’s lead 3-1. Klein’s singled marked his ninth-straight game with a hit, matching his career-best.
Beeter and the Red Raiders forced a three up, three down inning for Rice in the fourth courtesy of two strikeouts and a foul out. The two strikeouts gave Beeter nine on the night, setting a new career-high. He then recorded his 10th strikeout to end the top of the fifth inning and finished his outing with 12 strikeouts through six innings, giving up no walks or earned runs. This was the most strikeouts in a game by a Tech pitcher since 2013.
Sophomore RHP Micah Dallas took the mound in the seventh inning and struck two batters out to give the Red Raiders 14 combined strikeouts on the night.
In the bottom of the inning, Tech grew its lead by three runs. The inning opened with back-to-back walks to put Stilwell and Jung on base. The two advanced to second and third base on a balk and were sent home by freshman designated hitter Nate Rombach with a double through the left side, giving Tech a 6-1 lead. Rombach moved to third on a flyout and junior Cody Masters was sent to pinch run. A sac fly to right field sent Masters home, giving the Red Raiders a 7-1 advantage.
"There were some tough at-bats in there. Up and down the lineup, there were some guys that competed and stuck with their plan within an at-bat," Tadlock said. "I thought guys did a really good job, basically understanding that sometimes you got to wait a guy out, sometimes you got to wait to get your pitch, sometimes it's early. Some guys handled some adversity in the game too."
After a runless eighth inning, Dallas and the Red Raiders closed the game to secure Tech’s 7-1 win. Dallas finished his 3.0 innings pitched with five strikeouts as he did not give up a single hit or earned run.
The Red Raiders will look to add to their 10-game winning streak on Saturday as they will play the Owls for a second time at 3 p.m. back at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park.