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LUBBOCK, Texas – Just seconds before midnight and in locked in a 4-4 thriller, Texas Tech’s Gavin Kash took a short lead from second with one out.

Kash, who singled to start the final frame later advanced to second on a perfect sac-bunt from Drew Woodcox to place the go-ahead runner in scoring position for Texas Tech (32-24)

With Texas’ (35-21) Andre Duplantier in a groove, the Red Raiders needed a big hit.

Up until the point of Kash single, Duplantier had faced nine Red Raiders. Eight of them were retired, with the lone exception being Tracer Lopez who singled with one out in the seventh before ultimately being erased on a caught stealing. Nine batters, faced nine outs, with six of the nine outs coming via the strikeout.

Then came Cade McGee.

On the first pitch he saw from Duplantier, McGee turned around an 89 MPH offering from the Texas righty, lofting 43.5 degree ball down the left field line.

Off the bat the ball looked foul.

As it started to decend the ball looked foul.

As it raced toward the pole in the left the ball took a tiny right turn and clanged halfway up the advertisement on the foul pole for McGee’s 15th bomb of the season and third in the last three games.

The homer also carried with it a bit of irony, as the Red Raiders had done something similar against Duplantier two years prior; the 2022 Saturday matchup during a weekend series when SS Kurt Wilson, in a 12-12 game in the 10th, launched a walk-off grandslam off the then freshman hard throwing righty in a 16-12 Tech win.

And while tonight’s dramatic homer off Duplantier didn’t provide the heroics in a walk off, it did give the Red Raiders and closer Josh Sanders a 6-4 lead heading to the home half of the ninth.

Returning after a scoreless eighth where he stranded the go-ahead run on second after a two-out double, Sanders expended just six pitches to record the final three outs: a grounder to first, a popup to short and most fittingly a nubber that forced McGee to race in, barehand the ball and fire to first for the 27th and final out of Texas Tech’s 6-4 win over No. 24 in the opening round of the 2024 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship.

A fitting way for the game to end, as the hero in the top of the ninth provided one last stroke of the paint brush in his ninth inning masterpiece.

Originally slated for a 7:35 p.m. first pitch, Tuesday’s game started nearly two hours later than the intended start time due to the third game of the day between UCF and Cincinnati going 11 innings.

After a lead-off walk to TJ Pompey was all the Red Raiders could manage off UT starter Ace Whitehead, the Longhorns struck first on a lead-off homer from first baseman Jared Thomas.

Down 1-0, the Red Raiders immediately tied the game at one-all, when Woodcox crushed a 1-2 offering from Whitehead over 391 feet. The ball jumped off Woodcox’s bat at 111 MPH and soared over the left field wall for his 15th homer of the season.

The game remained 1-1 until the bottom of the third, when UT used a home run from Jack O’Dowd and two-run double down the first baseline from Big 12 Player of the Year Max Belyeu to take a 4-1 lead into the fourth.

Looking to answer, the Red Raiders used a little two-out magic, as a Woodcox walk, and a McGee single brought Austin Green to the plate as the tying run.

Ahead 1-0 in the count, Green ripped the second pitch he saw Whitehead 395-feet over the left field wall.

Despite neither side tallying a run until Tech did in the ninth, the Red Raiders and Horns continued to trade punches.

Leading off the top of the fifth, the Red Raiders looked to have hit a go-ahead home run when TJ Pompey crushed a 416-foot drive that UT CF Will Gasparino caught over the 412′ sign in centerfield for the first of the frame.

In the home half of the fifth, the Longhorns used a walk and a single to place runners on the corners for DH Max Schuessler. With the count even at one, Belyeu broke for second, but Tech catcher Kevin Bazzell uncorked a perfect throw to SS Will Burns who slapped the tag on Belyeu before the OF could slide into the second base bag.

After Duplaniter entered the game in the sixth and struck out the side, Texas used a lead-off single from catcher Ryan Galvan to put the go-ahead run-on base.

With a runner on first base and his pitch count over 100, Robinson won a five-pitch battle against Gasparino to put the first out on the board.

The strikeout proved to be the final pitch that Robinson would throw on the night, as the righty was lifted in favor of southpaw Brendan Lysik.

In a lefty-lefty matchup against O’Dowd, Lysik coaxed a grounder that skipped under a Red Raider glove for a single that placed the go-ahead run in Galvan at third base.

With runners on the corners, Lysik caught another lefty, Thomas, looking for the second out of the frame.

Thomas proved to be the final batter for Lysik, who threw seven of his 11 pitches for strikes.

Tech turned to righty Jacob Rogers who won a seven-pitch battle with UT SS Jalin Flores by blowing a 92 MPH fastball past a swinging Flores to take the game to seventh.

Returning for his second inning of work in the bottom of the seventh, Rogers used a pair of strikeouts to work around a two-out walk to fire another zero.

After a 1-2-3 top of the eighth, Tech turned to Sanders, who quickly retired the first two batters of the inning on ground out to third and flyout.

With two out and nobody on, O’Dowd turned around a 92 MPH sinker from Sanders, for a double the short hopped the wall in the right-centerfield gap.

With the dangerous Thomas digging in, Tech issued an intentional walk, to bring up Flores for a righty-righty matchup.

The Big 12 leader in homers, Flores popped up to right to end the threat.

In the ninth, the Red Raiders used the single from Kash and the heroics from McGee to close out their fifth straight opening round victory in the Big 12 Championships and the first Big 12 Tournament victory over Texas since 2010.

UP NEXT:
The Red Raiders return to action for the Second Round of the 2024 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championships against No. 19 Oklahoma State. First pitch from Globe Life Field is set for 7:30 p.m.

 

–TECH–

Release provided by Andrew Stern Texas Tech Athletics

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