Tech Baseball Wins Fourth Straight, Downs Houston 12-9

LUBBOCK, Texas – Behind another 3-for-4 night from Kevin Bazell and three perfect innings from reliever Josh Sanders, the Texas Tech Baseball program downed Houston, 12-9 at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park to take the opening game of critical three-game series.

In the first all-time Big 12 matchup between the two in-state rivals, it was Texas Tech (22-9, 6-7 Big 12) that was able to deliver the final blow in a game that saw 12 combined runs get scored in the fourth, fifth and six innings and featured sustained winds of 25 MPH and gusts of over 40 MPH.

Back in the leadoff spot for the first time since Mar. 21, first baseman Gavin Kash also had a big night for the Red Raiders, as the lefty went contributed three hits and a sac-fly, scoring three of the Red Raiders 12 runs. Kash scored the go-ahead run on a clutch two-out single from Drew Woodcox.

In another crucial game, the Red Raiders got hits from eight of the nine batters in the order, highlighted by three hits apiece from Kash and Bazzell as well as a pair of key hits from Damian Bravo. Bravo who doubled in the first and homered in the fourth, drove in three more runs to pull his season’s RBI total to 35. The Haltom City native also scored his 40th and 41st runs of the season, as he became the one player in the Big 12 Conference to eclipse 40 runs scored this season.

Friday’s contest quickly took the theme of a ‘Friday Night Heavyweight Fight’ as the Red Raiders and Cougars (16-13, 4-9 Big 12) traded punches.

After a strong opening inning from Ryan Free brought Tech to the plate in a scoreless game, the Red Raiders quickly dented the scoreboard when an RBI single from Bazzell plated Bravo for the first run of the game.

A single from Austin Green and a two-out walk by Owen Washburn loaded the bases with two outs for Cade McGee, who turned around an 0-1 fast ball from UHs Antoine Jean for a two-run double that put Tech up 3-0. Jean who had allowed just eight runs in 31 innings pitched was tagged for a season-high five runs in just 3.2 innings. It was the second-shortest outing of his season thus far.

Armed with a 3-0 lead, Free retired two of the first three batters of the second inning, but back-to-back two out extra-base hits quickly brought the Cougars to within 3-2. Houston ultimately tied the game on an errant throw on a back-pick attempt.

After the two sides stranded a pair of runners in the third, the Cougars grabbed their lone lead of the night when they plated four runs. The big blow was a three-run home run to left-center off the bat of Harrold Koll.

Looking to fire a critical shutdown inning, Jean retired the first two Red Raider batters on strikeouts, but a single from Kash set the stage for Bravo to pull his side to within 7-5 on his third home run of the season.

With the momentum from the Bravo home run, Tech actually placed the tying runs on the corners with two outs, but after a pitching change, the Cougars were able to strand both Bazzell and Green to send the game to the fifth with Houston on top by a pair.

Houston’s Cary Arbolida lifted a ball that caught the jet stream and sailed over the wall for a home run that gave the Cougars a three-run lead once again.

Like they did all night, the Red Raiders responded, as Tech quickly loaded the bases with nobody out.

After another Cougar pitching change initially resulted in a strike out, but the Red Raiders used a clutch seven-pitch walk by Kash to pull to within 8-6.

A sac-fly from Bravo cut the Tech deficit to just one (8-7), setting the stage for Tech’s hottest hitter, Bazzell.

With runners on second and third, Bazzell ripped a single through the left side that scored a pair and gave Tech its first lead since the first at 9-8.

Houston tied the game on another home run through the wind and over the left field wall in the sixth, but a strikeout and a caught stealing kept the game deadlocked at nine. Bazzell caught not one but two Cougars attempting to steal in the victory.

Needing a shutdown inning in a 9-9 game in the seventh, Tech once again turned to Sanders who needed just 13-pitches to retire the side in order. The 1-2-3 inning was the first of the night by either side.

The strong frame from Sanders swung the momentum back in favor of the Red Raiders, who quickly put a pair on base on back-to-back walks from OSU transfer Michael Benzor. Benzor, who had not allowed a run in his previous 9.1 innings of work, ended up allowing a pair of runs to suffer the loss.

Following Houston’s fourth and final pitching change of the night, the Cougars struck out Green, but a wild pitch advanced Kash to third and Bazzell to second.

The next batter for Tech, Woodcox, ran the count full before ripping the ball over the head of Houston shortstop Colby DeJesus for the game-winning hit. Tech ultimately ran its lead to three on a wild pitch and an RBI double from Washburn.

With a bit more breathing room, Sanders needed just 11 pitches in the eighth and 10 in the ninth to nail down his second win of the season.

After blowing his first save chance of the season last Thursday night in Orlando, Sanders has rebounded this week to throw five scoreless innings. The righty has allowed just two hits and punched out eight. Sanders punched out three tonight and now has at least one strike out in seven straight appearances.

With the victory, Tech notched its fourth straight win overall and its sixth straight win at Rip Griffin Park.

The Red Raiders and Cougars will meet once again Saturday afternoon for the pivotal second game of the three-game series.

Tech will send righty Kyle Robinson to the hill for tomorrow’s 2 p.m. first pitch.


Release Provided By Andrew Stern Texas Tech Athletics

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