The No. 8 Texas Tech baseball team opened the Super Regionals with an 8-6 win against No. 9 Oklahoma State in front of a sellout crowd of 4,732 fans at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park.
"Really good college baseball game," head coach Tim Tadlock said. "We're thankful to come out on the right side of it. Thankful these guys are on our team sitting to my right (Micah Dallas and Josh Jung), those guys over in that locker room. Nobody has a better seat in the house than I got."
With the win, the Red Raiders move to a 43-17 overall record this season, 29-6 record at home while remaining undefeated in the NCAA Tournament, 4-0.
"Well, (Tech's) very competitive," Oklahoma State's head coach Josh Holliday said. "They're very disciplined players. They're good players. You just saw what good players do. When they play back-to-back-to-back, complements one another. It's how a team is built. It's what makes them good."
Opening the game, freshman RHP Micah Dallas took the pitcher’s mound as he struck the first batter he faced out swinging. Christian Funk then doubled to right field but Dallas earned another strikeout and sophomore Easton Murrell made a ground out to close the top of the first inning, leaving Funk on third.
With two outs in the bottom of the first inning, both juniors Brian Klein and Josh Jung singled to get on base. Senior Cameron Warren then hit a hard line drive that was caught at third base to end the inning.
Dallas pitched a three up, three down inning as he struck two batters out in the top of the second inning. The Red Raider offense followed, loading the bases as sophomore Kurt Wilson earned a single following with sophomores Braxton Fulford and Gabe Holt being walked. Sophomore Dylan Neuse then hit a hard single up the middle, sending Wilson and Fulford home to give the Red Raiders an early 2-0 lead in the second inning.
"(Neuse's two-RBI single was) big-time, Dallas said. "The first to score really helps the momentum go. It's big for me out there, too, them showing they have my back even if I do mess up."
Returning to the mound, Dallas retired three more batters in order to keep the Cowboys scoreless after three innings. In the bottom of the inning, sophomore Cody Masters grew Tech’s lead, 3-0, as he hit a line drive over the right-field wall for his fifth home run this year. The home run was Masters’ first of the postseason.
Oklahoma State started the fourth inning with Christian Funk landing on first off of a walk. Colin Simpson then singled to right field but an error by Holt moved the Cowboys to second and third base. Trevor Boone followed with a hit up the middle to send Funk and Simpson home, cutting Tech’s lead. 3-2. Dallas then picked Boone off at first and struck a batter out swinging to end the two-run inning.
The Red Raiders answered back as Fulford opened the bottom of the inning with an infield single and Neuse was walked. Klein then sent a line drive over Oklahoma State’s first baseman to send Neuse to third and Holt home for a 4-2 lead. Warren then landed on first as Boone made a fielding error on the fly ball. The error sent Neuse home and Klein was ruled out at home. After a long review by the umpires, the call was overturned as Klein dodged the tag on the slide home, growing Tech’s lead, 6-2.
In the top of the fifth inning, Alix Garcia hit a home run to cut Tech’s lead, 6-3. Dallas shook the homer off and struck two-straight batters out to end the top of the inning. With his time at the mound, Dallas earned a career-high nine strikeouts in his first appearance in the Super Regionals.
"Well, it starts with fastball command," Tadlock said regarding what makes Dallas successful at the mound. "It starts with his background. He's a very grounded young man. Doesn't get too high or too low as far as week-to-week. Understands the preparation he's got to put in. You don't always see that with a freshman, but he's a guy that's been really consistent in that regard."
Junior LHP Dane Haveman opened the sixth inning at the pitcher’s mound. Haveman retired three-straight batters as Fulford caught a foul ball, Haveman struck a batter out and Neuse caught a fly ball in center field.
Haveman gave up to singles in the seventh inning to put Bryce Carter on third and Carson McCusker on first. Tech then sent junior RHP Taylor Floyd to the mound to relieve Haveman. Alix Garcia then cut Tech’s lead, 6-4, as he singled through the right side to send Carter home. After a Floyd strikeout, Hueston Morrill singled to left field to send McCusker home to make it a one-run game, 6-5. Floyd walked a batter, loading the bases but Neuse caught a fly ball at the warning track to end the top of the inning.
With a one-run lead, Jung swung the momentum in the Red Raiders’ favor as he hit a dinger over the center-field wall, growing Tech’s lead, 7-5. The home run was Jung’s 12th of the season.
Junior RHP John McMillon started the eighth inning at the mound, relieving Floyd. Andrew Navigato reached first off a fielding error by Murrell at third. Oklahoma State then put runners on second and third as Trevor Boone hit sent a hit so hard to Murrell, it knocked his glove off of his hand. A sac fly to the outfield sent Navigato home, cutting Tech’s lead, 7-6. Jung ended the top of the inning with a highlight play as he dove for a stop and threw a batter out at first for the final out of the inning.
"One of the biggest things we pride ourselves on is not giving up too many runs," Jung said. "Seemed like we hit a lapse on defense for a second, two or three errors. We were just looking for that one play. Anyone on the field could have made it. Just happened to be me this time. I think it sparked us to get through the rest of the game."
The Red Raiders loaded the bases in the bottom of the eighth inning with two singles and a hit batter. Freshman Max Marusak was sent in to pinch run for Murrell on third base and he was sent home with a sacrifice fly hit by Klein, giving Tech an 8-6 lead.
"It was frustrating," Boone said regarding Tech's ability to score as Oklahoma State started chipping away at the lead. "But we just try and stick together. We've been in that spot before. We weren't exactly uncomfortable. We just trusted ourselves and trusted the guys on the mound. We just tried to stick together."
McMillon closed the game with three strikeouts, securing the Red Raiders' 8-6 win in the first game of the Super Regionals.
Tech and Oklahoma State will continue the Super Regionals with a game at 5 p.m. on Saturday. If the Red Raiders win, they will advance to the College World Series. If the Cowboys win, it will force a winner-take-all game three on Sunday.