The No. 2 Texas Tech baseball team defeated Southern 13-2 in its first midweek game of the season on Tuesday at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park.
"There was a lot of value in playing today at 2 p.m.," head coach Tim Tadlock said. "Based on, we road in at 3 a.m. on Sunday morning and an off day yesterday, it was good to see the way the guys game out."
With the win, the Red Raiders are now 7-1 this season, remaining undefeated at home with a 5-0 record in Lubbock.
Sophomore LHP Mason Montgomery started the game at the mound for the Red Raiders. Montgomery opened the inning with back-to-back strikeouts but gave up a single and a walk shortly after. Despite two Jaguars getting on base, Montgomery struck a third batter out, leaving runners stranded on first and second.
"I thought Mason (Montgomery), the ball was coming out of his hand good, he was ahead in the count," Tadlock said. "Breaking ball was good, change up was good."
Opening the bottom of the first inning, sophomore right fielder Dru Baker sent a grounder to shortstop and reached first on a fielding error. Baker moved to third as senior second baseman Brian Klein followed with a ground-rule double. Freshman designated hitter Nate Rombach sent the two home with a three-run homer over the center-field wall.
"There were some good at-bats the first time through," Tadlock said. "The biggest thing, again, is are you moving on the right pitch? We did that some and we didn't do that some."
After a three up, three down inning for Southern in the second, the Red Raiders added three runs on the board to give them a 6-0 lead. The inning started with back-to-back singles from sophomore left fielder Tanner O’Tremba and freshman shortstop Cal Conley. Baker then drew a walk to load the bases for Tech. Klein cleared the bases with a double, sending one to the corner of left-field, giving Tech a six-run advantage entering the third inning.
In the third inning, Montgomery retired three consecutive batters for a three up, three down inning.
"I felt like all my pitches were working good," Montgomery said regarding his performance at the mound. "Just pounding the zone."
The Red Raiders then loaded the bases in the bottom of the inning as freshman third baseman Jace Jung was walked, junior catcher Braxton Fulford singled and O’Tremba reached first on a fielder’s choice. Southern tried for the out at second on O’Tremba’s hit, but a throwing error loaded the bases. Conley then cleared the bases with a double down the left-field line, growing Tech’s lead 9-0.
With Conley on second base, Baker drew his second walk of the game to put two Red Raiders on base. Sophomore first baseman Cole Stilwell followed with a double down the left-field like to send Conley and Baker home. Junior center fielder Dylan Neuse then fired one to right field for an RBI single, giving the Red Raiders a 12-0 lead going into the fourth inning.
Montgomery opened the fourth inning with a strikeout but then gave up a double to Zavier Moore. Taj Porter followed with a single to left field. As Moore rounded third base, O’Tremba made the throw from the outfield and Fulford tagged the Jaguar out at the plate. Fulford then picked Porter off as he tried to take second on a wild pitch, ending the top of the inning.
"There aren't too many ballparks that happens in," Tadlock said. "He's got a cannon first of all, I mean, most catchers do throw that guy out but he made it look kind of easy. Fortunate that it kicked right to him."
Southern responded with LHP Jerome Bohannon II striking out the side for Tech’s first runless inning of the game.
After another runless inning for Southern in the fifth, junior Parker Kelly opened the bottom of the inning with an infield single to third base. He was then sent home by Stilwell as he sent one to right-center, growing Tech’s lead 13-0.
Starting the sixth inning, senior RHP Connor Queen relieved Montgomery at the mound. In Montgomery’s 5.0 innings pitched, he struck out seven batters, giving up just three hits and three walks. Queen kept the Jaguars runless in the sixth, throwing just four pitches.
As this was this was Queen's first game of the season, Tadlock said there is no correlation between his performance and his appearances.
"We're eight games in and he's an experienced guy," Tadlock said. "The first weekend, we went with they guys that were younger, kinda get their feet wet. If today was a 1-0 game, it wasn't going to bother Queen if it was his first outing."
In the bottom of the inning, O’Tremba sent one down the right-field line for a triple with two outs but was left stranded as freshman Jared Cushing struck out swinging.
Freshman RHP Brandon Hendrix took the mound to start the eighth inning, relieving Queen after 2.0 innings of work. Although Queen did not strike a batter out in his outing, he gave up just one hit, retiring six batters in 13 pitches.
Hendrix stayed at the mound in the ninth inning and struck out the first batter of the inning. After walking a batter, Hendrix gave up a two-run homer over the left-field wall, preventing the shutout. A ground out and line pout closed the game, securing Tech’s 13-2 win.
The Red Raiders will head back to Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park at 1 p.m. on Wednesday for their second, and final, game against Southern.