Powered by a clutch insurance home run from Tracer Lopez and four shutout innings from its bullpen, No. 14 Texas Tech set up a Sunday rubber match with a 5-2 game two win Saturday at Tointon Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas.
The Red Raiders avoided a repeat of Friday night's heartbreaker, which saw Wildcats first baseman Roberto Pena pound a go-ahead two-run home run off Ryan Free in the bottom of the seventh inning, the difference in K-State's 3-2 game one win.
On Saturday, it was Tech shortstop Tracer Lopez who delivered a clutch two-run dinger in the later innings, as his third career home run sailed over the right-field wall to give a the Red Raiders a 5-2 lead, which would prove to be enough.
Lopez finished with three RBIs in the contest, including the go-ahead RBI single in the fourth inning. He and senior designated hitter Zac Vooletich were the lone Red Raiders with multiple hits. Vooletich put Tech on the board in the top of the first inning, scoring from third after K-State starter German Fajardo balked.
The Red Raiders erased an early 2-1 deficit with a pair of runs in the fourth, as redshirt freshman third baseman Kevin Bazzell and Lopez recorded back-to-back RBI knocks off Fajardo, before Lopez knocked the starter out of the game with his two-run blast.
Bullpen arms Kyler Heyne and Cole Wisenbaker shut out the Red Raiders for the final 3.1 shutout innings, but Tech's early damage was enough as its right-handed trio of Trendan Parish, Brandon Beckel and Kyle Robinson limited the Wildcats to six hits on the day.
Parish's sixth start of the season nearly took a turn for the worse immediately, as the sophomore slipped on the first base bag as he tried to catch first baseman Gavin Kash's errant throw to first. After visits from head coach Tim Tadlock and trainer Bryan Simpson, they elected to keep their starter in.
The runner would eventually score, one of two unearned runs for the Wildcats on the day, but Parish shut them out otherwise over the course of his six innings of work. He struck out a career-high 10 batters on the day and walked none, his first start of the season with zero walks.
Parish was relieved following the sixth inning, but the Poolville native did enough to earn the win and improve to 3-0 on the season. Beckel and Robinson both worked themselves into two-out jams with the tying run either at the plate or on base; both ended in strikeouts.
The series will be decided tomorrow at 1 p.m. The Wildcats are projected to roll out right-handed pitcher Collin Rothermel, while the Red Raiders have yet to announce their starter for the series finale.
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