March 4, 2013
RTB: Tech wins La Salle series
The Red Raiders needed things to turn around this weekend against a relatively unknown La Salle team. They got it.
It wasn't always pretty, but Texas Tech managed to coast to a 7-0 win in the rubber match against the Explorers Sunday at Rip Griffin Park after challenges Friday and Saturday.
It's been an interesting two weeks for the boys in red and black between starting a five-game trip to Florida off 0-4, an 8-6 win against Florida International to wrap that trip up, a surprising 6-5 loss against La Salle on Friday in 12 innings, a close win Saturday, and a blowout win Sunday.
The bottom line is you can't draw many definitive conclusions about the 2013 Red Raiders 12 games in and seven games out from the opening series of Big 12 play at Texas.
An exception is junior right handed pitcher Trey Masek is Tech's best pitcher. Freshman Matt Withrow, a fellow righty, might be emerging as the No. 2 pitcher.
Here is how things shaped out during the La Salle weekend.
Masek pitches lights out
The weekend belongs to the reigning Big 12 Pitcher of the Week. Don't be surprised to see Masek pick up the honor a second week in a row as Masek threw a career-high 12 strikeouts -- recording his 100th career strikeout in the process -- in a complete game, six hit shutout Saturday.
The junior's game could not have come at a better time. Tech had been upset by La Salle, 6-5 in 12 innings, on Friday and the bats were once again sporadic Saturday evening.
"That was a great performance," Tadlock said. "Two weeks in a row. He's commanded a couple
pitches and pounded the zone. It was exactly what we needed."
Tadlock decided to throw La Salle a 'curveball' by naming just Dominic Moreno as a starter for the three-game series for the Friday game. Everyone knew Masek would pitch, but no one knew for sure if the ace would pitch Saturday or Sunday.
La Salle combated Masek with Shane Hollman who lasted just three innings.
Masek pitched a nine-inning shutout against UConn in an ultimate 1-0 loss in 11 innings Feb. 24.
Through 24 innings pitched the 6-foot-1, 195-pound right hander has 27 strikeouts to 13 hits and six walks. Masek has an ERA of 0 and a 2-0 record with a no decision in the gem against the Huskies.
Friday's 6-5 loss in extra innings was a shocking loss and Tadlock was not happy about Moreno's pitching performance nor the lack of hits in the later phases of the game.
Tech took a 4-0 lead in the second inning and led 5-3 at the end of the fifth inning.
La Salle tied the game in the eighth inning thanks to back-to-back walks from Red Raider reliever Justin Bethard who had been in the game for the sixth and seventh inning. Jerad McCrummen came in to relieve Bethard and couldn't do much as a sacrifice bunt advanced the runners to second and third base. La Salle shortstop Kevin Baron hit a one out, two-RBI single to centerfield before Tech could stop the bleeding.
The Red Raiders went three up and three down in both the bottom eighth and ninth innings.
La Salle's batting order went down one-two-three in the 10th inning while a two-out Tim Proudfoot walk in the bottom 10th didn't come out to anything.
The Explorers went down in order again in the 11th and Tech had the chance to win it in the bottom of that frame. Left fielder Zach Davis was hit by a pitching to start things off for Tech and back-to-back groundouts moved Davis to third base. Unfortunately, right fielder Todd Ritchie flew out to left field to strand Davis 90 feet away.
La Salle got the game-winning run in the top of the 12th inning on a walk, sacrifice bunt and a two-out single that drove the man from second base to home.
Bryant Burleson, Eric Gutierrez and Scott LeJeune, Tech's No. 3, No. 4 and No. 5, hitters went down in order in the bottom of the 12th to end the game.
"We took a lot of fastballs," Tadlock said. "Christensen came in on the first four or five guys with all fastballs. The guys thought they had figured him out and then he started mixing it a little bit. It's really about hitting your pitch when you get it and putting a good swing on it when it's out over the plate. We didn't do that very often once he got into the game."
Proudfoot gets work at third base
Among a bunch of MLB Draft picks last season, Tim Proudfoot was the regular starter at shortstop. He played third base this weekend along with freshman Alec Humphries.
"So far I really like it," Tadlock said. "If you go back and look at Reid Redman on the turf and how well he moved laterally, that's kind of what Tim gives you. The turf plays really fast and it's important that the guy at third base can go left and right as well as they have."
Proudfoot has started in nine of 10 games this season and has 10 putouts, 37 assists and is batting an OK .241 in the bottom third of the batting order.
Sunday's game was more along the lines of what fans expected for the weekend.
Withrow threw seven innings in which he allowed six hits and a walk to eight strikeouts. Relievers Andre Wheeler and Corey Taylor maintained the shutout while the Red Raider batters combined for six hits and six walks led by leadoff man and right fielder Devon Conley's two hits.
Sunday's win was the first time the Red Raiders have shut out opponents in back-to-back games since 2001.
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