Tech hits the road for key weekend at UCF

ORLANDO – Riding a three-game winning streak, Texas Tech Baseball hits the road this weekend for a crucial three-game Big 12 weekend series at UCF.

The series begins on Thursday night with a 7:35 p.m. (local)/6:35 p.m. (CT) first pitch, before continuing with a 6 p.m. (local)/5 p.m. (CT) first pitch on Friday. The series finale on Saturday is set for a 1 p.m. (local)/Noon (CT) first pitch.

This weekend’s series opens a crucial stretch for the Red Raiders as Tech will play 14 of its next 28 games against teams ranked inside the top-40 in the RPI and 23 of the next 28 against teams in the top-75 of the most recent RPI.

UCF enters the weekend at No. 6 in overall RPI, providing the first road top-10 RPI foe of the season for Texas Tech.

INSIDE THE MATCHUPS:

GAME ONE:
MATCHUP: Texas Tech (18-7, 4-5 Big 12) vs. UCF (16-6, 4-5 Big 12)
DATE: Thursday, Mar. 28, 2024
TIME: 6:35 p.m. (CT)
LOCATION: Rip Griffin Park at Dan Law Field (Lubbock, Texas)
PITCHING MATCHUP: RHP Mac Heuer (2-2, 5.18 ERA) vs. RHP Ben Vespi (2-1, 4.50 ERA)

GAME TWO:
MATCHUP: Texas Tech (18-7, 4-5 Big 12) vs. UCF (16-6, 4-5 Big 12)
DATE: Friday, Mar. 29, 2024
TIME: 5 p.m. (CT)
LOCATION: Rip Griffin Park at Dan Law Field (Lubbock, Texas)
PITCHING MATCHUP: RHP Kyle Robinson (3-2, 4.65 ERA) vs. Dom Stagliano (0-1, 3.63)

GAME THREE:
MATCHUP: Texas Tech (18-7, 4-5 Big 12) vs. UCF (16-6, 4-5 Big 12)
DATE: Saturday, Mar. 30, 2024
TIME: Noon (CT)
LOCATION: Rip Griffin Park at Dan Law Field (Lubbock, Texas)
PITCHING MATCHUP: TBD vs. Wiley Hartley (2-1, 2.84 ERA)

HEADLINES IN 1-2-3:

* The Texas Tech Red Raiders travel to Orlando to face new conference foe UCF for a Thursday-through-Saturday weekend series. The weekend provides a pair of opportunities for the Red Raiders as UCF enters the weekend at No. 6 in the country in RPI. The Knights are also tied with Tech at 4-5 in the crowded and congested Big 12 standings. The weekend series against UCF kicks of a key stretch of games for Tech that includes 14 of the next 28 against teams ranked inside the top-40 in RPI. The stretch includes weekend series at TCU and Oklahoma State as well as a home series with Oklahoma and a road midweek series against No. 1 Arkansas.

* The Red Raiders enter the weekend having won three straight dating back to last Friday’s walk-off win over BYU. Since the walk-off over the Cougs, the Red Raiders have outscored their opponents 26-4 and have trailed for just two innings. That stretch includes Saturday’s 10-1 win over BYU and the 16-4 win over SFA Tuesday.

* The Red Raiders weekend series at UCF opens another key stretch as 23 of the next 28 games will be against teams currently ranked inside the top-75 of the RPI. That stretch includes the 14 top-40 games but also weekend series with No. 58 Houston (Apr. 5-7), No. 63 West Virginia (Apr. 19-21) and at Kansas (Apr. 26-28). When you break it down, Tech will play 19 games in April and 14 games will be against top-75 teams.

SERIES NOTES:

BEEN A WHILE

The Red Raiders and Knights have met just one previous time a Feb. 23 meeting during Tim Tadlock’s first season in Lubbock (2013). UCF defeated Tech in that matchup 13-8. That matchup was a part of the UCF Wawa Weekend Classic.

NEW FIRST PITCH THURSDAY

Thursday’s first pitch has been changed to 7:35 p.m. (ET)/6:35 p.m. (CT). The rest of the series and game times will be unchanged.

BIG OPPORTUNITY

This weekends series with UCF provides multiple key opportunities for a Red Raider squad that seems to have found some momentum after last Friday’s walk-off win delivered by Landon Stripling. Since that walk-off win the Red Raiders have trailed for just two innings (one in each game) and have outscored its opponents 26-5. This weekends series in Orlando also could be huge in the RPI department as the Red Raiders will face a top-10 RPI opponent for the first time since Feb. 21’s contest against Oregon State. UCF enters the game at No. 6 in the most recent RPI. Tech is no stranger to playing top-15 RPI teams as the Red Raiders have played No. 11 Nebraska, No. 12 Tennessee in addition to No. 4 Oregon State. The weekend series will feature three of 14 remaining contests the Red Raiders have with teams inside the top 40 in RPI. Tech still will play a pair of games at No. 3 Arkansas (Apr. 16-17), a weekend series vs. No. 16 Oklahoma, a three-game set at No. 24 Oklahoma State (May 10-12) and the three-game clash at No. 34 TCU. The Red Raiders also have home series with No. 58 Houston (Apr. 5-7) and No. 63 West Virginia (Apr. 19-21) and a weekend series at No. 71 KU (Apr. 26-28). Including the weekend series with UCF, Tech will play 23 of the next 28 against teams with an RPI of 100 or better. The 28 game stretch also includes a midweek series with Stanford (No. 182) and a midweek at ACU (No. 110).

THREE STRAIGHT VERSUS NEW FOES

This weekends series against BYU will mark the first of three straight Big 12 srries against newcomers to the Big 12 Conference. Tech will next travel to UCF next week before opening the month of April with a weekend series against the Cougars of Houston.

THURSDAY-FRIDAY-SATURDAY X2

After playing BYU this past weekend, the Red Raiders will once again embark on a Thursday-Saturday weekend when they travel to Orlando to face UCF. This will be the final weekend where Tech will play Thurs-Sat on the schedule.

MARCH MADNESS BUT MAKE IT BASEBALL

When this weekends series ends with UCF, the Red Raiders will have concluded a stretch of 21 games in the first 30 days of March. That 30-day stretch will include five-weekend series, four Big 12 series and five midweek contests. The Red Raiders have been successful thus far in March going 12-5 with series wins over Gardner-Webb, New Mexico State and BYU.

CRUCIAL SERIES IN THE CITRUS STATE

This weekends series between Tech and UCF shapes up to be a pivotal one in the Big 12 race as both teams enter the fourth weekend of conference play with identical 4-5 records. The Red Raiders rebounded last weekend to win two of three from BYU after falling two games to one in the first two BIg 12 series against UT and at Baylor. UCF after getting swept at Oklahoma to open league play has recorded a pair of series wins over Oklahoma State and KU. In the OSU series UCF won the first time games before fallng 16-10. The Knights last weekend dropped the series opener to KU, 13-3 before rebounding for a doubleheader sweep of KU (6-2, 4-1). UCF and Tech are two of five teams tied at 4-5 in the Big 12 standings. The group also including Houston, KU and Kansas. Houston heads to TCU for a weekend series in Fort Worth this weekend while Kansas heads west to Provo to face BYU.

BIG 12 CONGESTION

The Big 12 standings are rather tight heading into the fourth of 11 conference weekends as every single school has at least one loss this season in conference play and 12 of 13 teams have multiple losses. Kansas State leads the Big 12 standings (due to winning percentage) at 5-1 after recording a weekend sweep of Houston and a series victory over Cincinnati during the opening weekend of Big 12 play. The Wildcats are home this weekend for an important series with Texas. Oklahoma sits in second at 7-2 after dropping the final two games of a home weekend series with WVU. The Sooners began Big 12 play a perfect 7-0 after sweeping UCF in Norman and sweeping TCU in Fort Worth. Texas and West Virginia sit tied for third in the standings at 4-2 followed by Oklahoma State and Cincinnati at 3-3 overall. After starting 0-2 in Big 12 play, OSU has evened its record at 3-3 after salvaging the final game of the weekend at UCF and winning last weekend’s clash with preseason Big 12 favorites TCU. After the log jam of five teams at 4-5, Baylor sits at 3-6 in league play after dropping a weekend series at Texas. In what be the most shocking result of all, TCU currently sits in solo last in the standings at 2-7. The Frogs opened Big 12 play , 1-5 after getting swept at home by OU and dropping series to KU and OSU on the road. TCU is only Big 12 team without a series victory through the first three weekends of conference play.

BRAVO. DAMIAN BRAVO.
Damian Bravo has been suburb in his second season in Lubbock, as the Sophomore has hit a team-best .437 over the season’s first 24 games. Bravo has also recorded and on-base percentage of .515 and has a team-best 31 RBIs and 16 doubles. More importantly, Bravo has driven in at least one run in 16 of his 22 games played. Bravo driving in a run has been good for the Red Raiders as Tech is an impressive 16-1 when the outfielder contributes at least one RBI. The lone contest the Red Raiders didnt win this season was Friday against UT when Bravo homered in the fourth. Bravo sits second in the Big 12 in RBIs behind Brady Day of Kansas State.

RUNNIN’ RUNNIN’
The Red Raiders have clearly been aggressive on the basepaths this season, as the club has now stolen 30 bases in just 25 games played. The Red Raiders have been caught just once, last Saturday against BYU. The caught stealing broke a streak of 28 consecutive bags to start the year. Tech is the only team in NCAA D1 with at least 30 bags stolen and fewer than two caught stealing’s. The Red Raiders started the season 28-for-28 on SBs.

ROLLIN’ IN THE DEEP
Another pitcher who changed his warmup song in 2024 was senior Josh Sanders, who will now warmup to Adelle’s Rolling in the Deep. So far it seems the warmup song is working for Sanders, as the righty has pitched 16.2 innings thus far, allowing just 12 hits and six runs (four earned). Sanders has now struck out 19 batters in his 16.2 innings of work. Hitters are hitting just .194 against him. Sanders had a strong opener to the series as the righty needed just 25 pitches over two innings of work to record his first save of the season.

MCGEES BEEN ON BASE AND HIT A LOT
Former Freshman All-American and Gonzaga transfer Cade McGee continues to provide a different and unique approach to the lineup this season. McGee has played and started in every game yet only has recorded 73 official at-bats because he has walked 22 times and been hit by 15 pitches. When you add it up, McGee has come to the plate 110 times through the first 24 games of the season and he has reached base safely in 59 of those at-bats. His on-base percentage sits at an eye-popping .527.

FINAL 16 RETIRED IN A TWO-HITTER
The Red Raiders closed the BYU series by allowing just one run in a two-hitter. After junior Jack Washburn handled the first four innings of Sunday’s game, the Red Raiders turned to sophomore Jacob Rogers who fired three perfect innings. Tech turned to freshman Parker Hutyra for the eighth and ninth innings. Hutyra struck out four including the last batter of the game to seal the victory.

TP WAS ON ONE TUESDAY
Junior reliever Trendan Parish was on fire on Tuesday afternoon, throwing 3.2 scoreless innings with six
punchouts. Parish allowed just three hits and earned his second victory of the season. Parish has now recorded 19 punchouts in 16.2 innings pitched and has walked just six. Batters are hitting just .266 against him

THAT’S MORE LIKE IT
After struggling offensively in wet and humid conditions in a weekend series loss in Waco, the Red Raiders rebounded in a big way in the weekend series against BYU. On the weekend, the Red Raiders hit .324 (34-105) with nine extra-base hits. The Red Raiders also shined on the mound this weekend as they pitched to a 3.33 ERA in the 27 innings pitched. Tech struck out 34 batters and held BYU to a .194 average for the weekend. The Red Raiders walked just eight batters on the weekend. Led by Damian Bravo and Drew Woodcox, five different Red Raiders hit over .300 on the weekend. Tech hit .327 during the five game home stand.

WIN NO. 300
Tuesday’s midweek win over Stephen F. Austin was one for the history books, as the Red Raiders won their 300th all-time game at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park. Renovated in 2012, the Red Raiders have a 300-89 all-time record at The Rip (.771).

BACK-TO-BACK WEIRD GAMES
In the series finale on Saturday against BYU the Red Raiders scored in the final eight of innings of the game including singular runs in the third through seventh innings. On Tuesday against Stephen F. Austin, the Red Raiders scored 16 runs total but only in the even innings. Tech scored twice in the second, three times in fourth, five times in the sixth and six runs in the eighth.

BIG MAC BOUNCE BACK
Freshman Mac Heuer will look to bounce back on Thursday night in Orlando after suffering the loss in back-to-back starts. The losses were the first two career losses for Heuer who started 2-0. And while Mac has lost back-to-back starts, he’s certainly run into a few quirks. In the first lost, Heuer battled humid and rainy conditions as the righty pitched in the rain suspended game two Saturday’s ago at Baylor. Last week, Heuer took the ball on Thursday night and allowed five runs in his start, but four came on a grandslam that was aided by a botched double play ball. Heuer who sports a 25-4 K-to-BB ratio, has pitched to a 5.18 ERA thus far and has struck out 20 in his last 14 innings pitched including a pair of eight-K performances against UT and BYU.

RIDING WITH A LITTLE MO
Since Landon Stripling scored Dylan Maxcey last Friday night to even the weekend series with BYU, the Red Raiders have looked strong. Including the run that Tech scored in the bottom of the ninth of that game the Red Raiders have now outscored its opponents 27-4 in 15.2 innings played. Following the walk-off on Friday night, Tech defeated the Cougars 10-1 on Saturday before notching a 16-4 run rule of SFA. The walk-off was Tech’s first since the 2023 Big 12 Tournament when Tech walked-off OU.

UP NEXT:
The Red Raiders return home for a busy five-game week that kicks off on Monday night vs. Stanford. First pitch from Rip Griffin Park is set for 6:30 p.m. The week also included a Noon contest with the Cardinal on Tuesday as well as a three-game weekend set with Houston.

–TECH–

Release Provided By Andrew Stern Texas Tech Athletics

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