CBB Column: Texas Tech’s California Trip Recap

AJ RAMOS (courtesy of Texas Tech)
AJ RAMOS (courtesy of Texas Tech)

8 games in California over 11 days seemed like a good idea to test the young Texas Tech baseball team, unfortunately, the Red Raiders scored a 12.5 on the test. With only 1 win on the road trip, Tech dropped their season record to 6-8, 0-7 away from Dan Law Field.

The story of the week was the Raiders inability to hold a late-inning lead, and a folly of fielding errors that allowed 22 unearned runs to score. In 6 of the 7 losses, the Red Raiders held a lead at 1 point, but gave up the lead with multiple-run innings, and were unable to match their opponents scores. Four games were lost after 5 innings, including a 9th inning loss to Cal-State Northridge.

The bullpen struggled behind the fielding woes, allowing 33 runs, but only 14 earned runs and collecting 4 losses with no wins. As a team, the Raiders fielding percentage was only .945, well below their season average at the start of the road trip. 3B Justin Berry’s hot start faded quickly after 4 errors in 25 chances. The return of preseason starter Garrett Totten was marred by 3 errors in 4 games, including 2 in his first appearance. CF Kengray Fleming dropped a fly ball that allowed a run to eventually score, and misplayed another ball against UC Riverside. The errors were not limited to the freshmen, as Joey Kenworthy, Chris Richburg and Jeremy Mayo each collected 2 errors a piece.

The hitting faced its own challenges in California. After striking out only 28 times and amassing 34 walks in the first 6 games, the Raider offense drew 29 walks, but struck out a staggering 80 times, including 5 straight games of 10+ strikeouts.

With all the bad came 2 very bright spots. SS Joey Kenworthy exploded in the final 5 games after being benched for the 3rd game against Cal-State Northridge. The small-statured Jr. responded with 4 3-hit games in 7 games, hitting .591 and scoring 7 runs. Senior pitcher A.J. Ramos continued his hot start, throwing 6 shutout innings with 9 strikeouts against Gonzaga on Saturday. Ramos, still limited by a pitch count, has not given up a run in 13 innings so far this season. His 18 strikeouts are 2nd on the team behind Miles Morgan’s 19.

NOTES:

Fr. Justin Berry extended his hitting streak to 11 games, and has hit safely in 13 of 14 games this season.

Fr. Garrett Totten returned from his preseason injury in time for the Palm Springs Invitational. Totten started all 4 games at 2B.

Fr. RHP Brennen Stewart was sent home from California after injuring his elbow on March 1st.

Fr. Brandon Foster and Colton Farrar each made their Red Raider debut in California. Foster pitched a scoreless 1.1 innings against UC Riverside  on March 3rd while Farrar appeared for an inning in both Riverside contests.

So. Chad Bettis made his first career relief appearance, walking 1 batter in 2/3 of an inning against San Francisco. He followed that with his first career save in 3 innings against Gonzaga.