The No. 10 Texas Tech baseball team secured the Big 12 title with an 8-4 win against Texas Christian at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park on Saturday.
With the win, the Red Raiders conclude the regular season with a 36-15 overall record, 16-8 conference record and a 25-6 record at home.
Tech’s starting pitcher sophomore RHP Bryce Bonnin started the game strong with six-straight strikeouts to keep the Horned Frogs off the bases in the first two innings.
“(Bonnin’s) slider will go up to 88 and so it’s a wipeout breaking ball,” head coach Tim Tadlock said. “You got Williamson on their side, he’s up to 95. You know, I want to say the slider is in the low 80’s, I don’t remember exactly. Just two really good arms, but the fast ball command sets up (Bonnin’s pitching performance). Guys that throw that hard try to get the bat going, feel like they need to cheat a little bit to get to it and it opens up everything for the slider.”
Backing up the strong pitching performance by Bonnin, senior Cameron Warren was the first player of the game to land on base after reaching first with an infield single in the bottom of the second inning. Warren then advanced to second off a throwing error by TCU’s pitcher. Freshman Cole Stilwell then made his way to first after being walked to put two Red Raiders on base. The Red Raiders took a 2-0 lead as sophomore Braxton Fulford landed a hit short to right field, sending Warren and Stilwell home.
Breaking out of two innings without a hit, the Horned Frogs broke the streak in the third inning with three-straight doubles by Bobby Goodloe, Zach Humphreys and Josh Watson. With the hits, Goodloe and Humphreys scored to tie the game, 2-2.
The Red Raiders loaded the bases in the bottom of the fourth inning as Warren singled to center field, sophomore Kurt Wilson was walked and sophomore Parker Kelly reached first on a fielding error by TCU’s third baseman. As the ‘Raider Power’ chant emerged, Fulford earned two more RBI with a hit to left field, sending Warren and Wilson home, giving Tech a 4-2 lead. The Red Raiders extended their lead to 5-2 as sophomore Dylan Neuse sent Kelly home with a hit up the middle.
“Oh yeah, I was aware of (the ‘Raider Power’ chant),” Fulford said. “I definitely was hearing it, I was like ‘dang, that’s loud.’ When I was in the box about to hit, yeah I think I zoned it out but before that, I definitely was noticing it.”
Junior Josh Jung then started the fifth inning on first after he was hit by a pitch. Jung advanced to second on a wild pitch and made his way to third with a sac fly by Warren. With a double down the left-field line by Stilwell, Jung crossed home to grow Tech’s lead to 6-2.
Bonnin was relieved at the mound as junior RHP Taylor Floyd opened the sixth inning. After 5.0 innings pitched, Bonnin struck seven batters out while giving up four hits, two walks and two runs.
Starting the sixth inning strong, Floyd struck two-straight batters out. TCU’s Conner Shepherd then hit the first home run of the game, sending a hit over the left-center wall, cutting Tech’s lead down, 6-3. Floyd ended the top of the inning with his third strikeout of the inning.
“I think (Shepherd) just put a good swing on it,” Floyd said. “I mean, one-two count, we’re trying to get in on them. Pitching to a lefty, my ball runs away from them so sometimes a ball in can run over the plate. Put a good swing on it. It happens.”
The Red Raiders loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh inning as Kelly and Fulford were walked and sophomore Gabe Holt landed on first with a bunt. TCU then walked Neuse, sending Kelly home to grow Tech’s lead, 7-3.
Warren opened the bottom of the eighth inning with a triple to center field. Warren was sent home with a sac hit to third base by Wilson. Warren grew Tech’s lead to 8-3, and as the lone senior on senior night, he earned a standing ovation from the sellout crowd.
“Wouldn’t that have been cool if (Warren’s hit) got out of the ballpark?,” Tadlock said. “I don’t know if it was cooler the triple or the home run, if it had been a home run. I thought it was a really good read also on the ball to the third baseman. That was a good baseball play. He’s had an awful good year, played awful good.”
With a five-run lead, junior LHP Dane Haveman took the mound to close the game for the Red Raiders. Floyd’s time at the mound ended with seven strikeouts and he only gave up one hit, one run and one walk in his 3.0 innings at the mound.
Tech secured its final win of the regular season and series win against TCU 8-4 with two strikeouts by Haveman and a fly out in center field by Neuse. The win secured the Red Raiders the Big 12 title.
The Red Raiders’ next game will be played in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, at the Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark from May 22-26 for the 2019 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship.