Bats, Free and Robinson, Help No. 18 Tech to a 10-7 victory Friday

LUBBOCK, Texas – Bolstered by a strong Friday night start from righty Kyle Robinson, a 4-for-5 day with four RBIs from Damian Bravo and four clutch outs from Ryan Free, the No. 18 ranked Texas Tech Baseball program downed Gardner-Webb Friday night, 10-7 at Rip Griffin Park at Dan Law Field.

The first night home game at The Rip certainly did not disappoint or lack for drama, as Texas Tech (7-2) held off a furious Gardner-Webb (2-7) eighth inning rally to win for the seventh time in the last eight games.

After allowing a two-run home run in the top of the first, Robinson (2-1) found his groove after the opening frame, firing 5.2 innings of three-run ball (two earned). For the second straight weekend, Robinson fanned eight to tie his career high.

Tech also got four key outs from Free and righty Josh Sanders in the victory. Free recorded the final four outs of the game to earn the save, none bigger than a bases loaded, two-out strikeout in a 10-7 game in the eighth.

Sanders also threw the ball well on Friday, striking out four of the six batters he faced including a key punchout in the sixth that stranded a runner on third in a 6-3 game. Sanders recorded all four of his outs via the strikeout and now has struck out 10 batters of his first 6.2 innings pitched.

Robinson’s strong work after the first and a pair of RBI hits from Bravo and freshman Davis Rivers allowed the Red Raiders to tie the game at two after two. In his first career start behind the dish, Rivers went 1-for-3 with an RBI single.

Following a 1-2-3 top of the third inning, Tech took the lead for good in the home half of the third when Owen Washburn crushed a 2-1 pitch the opposite way. The ball traveled 425 feet over the visitor’s bullpen in left. The blast was a two-run shot that plated Cade McGee and gave Tech a 5-2 advantage.

Armed with the lead for the first time, Robinson cruised through a 12-pitch fourth, opening the frame with back-to-back strikeouts.

Looking to build upon the lead, Tech got a one-out solo home run from McGee to take a 6-2 lead. The blast was McGee’s first as a Red Raider.

In the fifth, Robinson used a pick-off and another bases loaded strikeout to hold the Bulldogs off the scoreboard. The punchout, which ended the frame, came on an elevated 95 MPH fastball.

Heading back out for the sixth inning for the first time this season, Robinson used a pair of strikeouts sandwiched between a walk to pull to within one out of getting through the sixth unscathed, but a two-out single by GWU placed runners on the corners with two gone. Despite not finishing the sixth, Robinson did become the first Red Raider starting pitcher to throw a pitch in the sixth inning this season.

With his pitch count at 98 for the evening, HC Tim Tadlock elected to go to the bullpen for Josh Sanders.

With a 0-2 count, the Bulldog runner from first broke towards second and froze in his tracks. Trying to end the frame, Sanders attempted to pick the runner off before the breaking runner from third could score. Instead, Sanders’ throw was high and went into centerfield for an error that allowed the Bulldogs to pull to within 6-3.

In the final half of the sixth, Tech quickly loaded the bases with one out for Bravo, who dropped a single into centerfield that plated a pair. The hit gave Tech an 8-3 lead.

The Red Raiders once again loaded the bases with two outs in the frame, bringing TJ Pompey to the plate. Pompey ripped a 90-mph fastball directly up the middle at 105 mph. The ball had eyes for centerfield and likely would have scored a pair, but instead of going unimpeded right back up the middle, the ball clipped the second base umpire.

By rule, each Tech runner was able to advance just one base, as Tech took a 9-3 lead.

After a strikeout ended the Tech threat in the sixth, GWU pulled to within 9-4 when a hit batter and a throwing error plated a run.

With a runner on second and nobody out, Sanders overcame the error striking out three straight batters (all looking) to bring Tech to within six outs of victory.

Looking to extend what was then just a four-run lead, Tech used a lead-off walk and a hitter batter to place a pair on for Bravo, who ripped his fourth hit of the night that plated Gavin Kash from second. The RBI base-knock was Bravo’s fourth hit and fourth run batted in, and gave the Red Raiders a 10-4 lead.

In the eighth, Tech turned to lefty Max Huffling, who actually recorded the first out of the inning on a flyout to center, before allowing back-to-back singles and a wild pitch.

With a pair in scoring position, Gardner-Webb turned to Ethan Liao off the bench. Liao poked a single up the middle that cut the Tech lead to just 10-6.

After a wild pitch advanced Liao to second, Wade Kelly singled up the middle for the Bulldogs. Centerfielder Gage Harrelson fielded the ball in shallow center field and fired a strike to the plate that gunned down Liao by five feet. Kelly advanced to second on the out at the plate, and ultimately scored on a Lawson Knight single to pull his team to within 10-7.

Back-to-back walks from new pitcher Hudson Parker loaded the bases for GWU in the eighth, but Free emerged from the pen, and froze a Bulldog batter to end the threat.

In the ninth, Free worked around a two-out single, ultimately striking out Liao to end the game.

With the win, the Red Raiders have now won four straight, and seven of eight overall.

The 18th-ranked Red Raiders return to action Saturday afternoon for game two of the three-game set with Gardner-Webb. Freshman Mac Heuer will make his first career start on Saturday, as the Red Raiders will look to clinch their second straight home non-conference series.

First pitch from Lubbock is set for 2 p.m.


Release Provided By Andrew Stern Texas Tech Athletics

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