No. 8 Tech defeats K-State to open Big 12 Championship
ARLINGTON, Texas – A career-best outing from starter Mason Molina paced the No. 8 Texas Tech baseball team to a 5-3 win against Kansas State on Wednesday in the opening round of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship at Globe Life Field. The freshman left-hander struck out 10 and carried a no-hitter until one out in the seventh inning.

While Molina was dealing, the Red Raiders’ offense wasted no time providing run support by scoring three runs in the second inning. Kurt Wilson provided the first of his team-best three base hits in the second, kick-starting the frame with a double. He finished 3-for-4 from the plate, reaching base in his first three plate appearances.

Hudson White and Parker Kelly provided two more Texas Tech base hits in the second inning to help push across the three runs. With Wilson and White on base, a pair of Kansas State errors allowed Wilson to score the game’s first run (watch). Kelly knocked home White with an RBI single (watch), and Kelly came around to score after a failed pick-off attempt of him stealing second base (watch) ended with the ball in the outfield.

Tech came close to busting the game wide open in the fifth using a two-out rally. Easton Murrell and Cole Stilwell each hit singles while Jace Jung was intentionally walked. Ty Coleman went down with a fly-out on a day his team-best 20-game on-base streak ended.

The Red Raiders would not be denied the following inning as Dillon Carter provided a two-out triple with a pair of baserunners aboard to give Tech a 5-0 lead (watch). Wilson singled but was out on a fielder’s choice allowing White on the base pads. Kelly drew a two-out walk which was followed by the two-RBI triple. Tech finished the game 3-for-7 (.429) hitting with runners in scoring position.

Molina stuck out six of the first seven batters he faced and set a new career-high for strikeouts by earning his ninth to close out the fifth inning (watch). He retired 18 of the first 19 batters he faced over the first six innings, allowing one walk in the third. He finished the sixth retiring his 11th in a row before going back out for the seventh when he was dinged for the first time.
Molina allowed a leadoff walk in the seventh and it was nearly erased with a double-play one at-bat later, but an official review overturned the double play and left a runner on first base with one out. After that call, Molina allowed his first hit – a double. An RBI single followed, and the freshman picked up his 10th strikeout for the second out. With two outs and an 0-2 count, K-State connected for a bases-clearing double and signaled the end of Molina’s otherwise spotless start.

Andrew Devine earned the final out of the seventh, while Derek Bridges and Austin Becker also aided the relief effort to clinch Tech’s third-straight opening-round win in the Big 12 Championship.

Quotable
Texas Tech Head Coach Tim Tadlock
On Mason Molina’s presence…
“He pitched ahead in the count. It was strike one for most of the day. He was ahead of most hitters. He commanded the fastball and both off-speed pitches. He’s always had mound presence, but when he pitches ahead in the count it makes it tough on guys.”

On starting the tournament with a win…

Again, our focus needs to be getting a little bit better each day and respecting the game. We know Oklahoma and West Virginia are playing at a high level. I think West Virginia just beat the team we just played. We just played Oklahoma. So, we know we have our work cut out for us. We have to show up and play tomorrow.”

Up Next

Tech advances to Thursday’s 7:30 p.m. winner’s bracket game. The Red Raiders will either have a rematch with Oklahoma from last weekend or see West Virginia on day two of the tournament.

–TECH–

Release provided by Matt Burkholder Texas Tech Athletics

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