By Ty Parker
MANHATTAN, Kan. – The No. 10 Texas Tech Red Raiders allowed three runs in the bottom of the seventh to drop the series finale at Kansas State, 5-4, on Sunday afternoon at Tointon Family Stadium.
The Red Raiders (18-7, 3-3) held leads of 3-1 in the fifth and 4-2 in the seventh before the three-run seventh allowed the Wildcats (12-16, 1-5) to salvage a game in the three-game set. Going for its first sweep in Manhattan since 1997, Tech will settle for its sixth straight series win over KSU and its third straight in the Little Apple.
Tech outhit the Wildcats 9-6 but a couple of defensive mistakes and 12 runners left on base would end up haunting the Red Raiders. All three of Tech’s conference losses this season have been in one-run games.
Junior left-hander Erikson Lanning tossed 4.2 innings in the start and was perfect his first time through the Wildcat lineup. He allowed his first base runner of the contest with a single in the fourth, but grinded into the fifth before seeing his day end. He yielded two runs, one earned on three hits.
Relievers Kurt Wilson (0-1) and Caleb Freeman threw the remaining 3.1 innings with Wilson receiving the loss. Freeman entered the game in the seventh with the go-ahead run on second and got two big strikeouts, but a soft liner would find its way into right field just out of reach of junior second baseman Brian Klein to allow what would be the winning run to score. Freeman went on to rack up two more strikeouts to match his career high with four.
Senior Cameron Warren led the Red Raiders at the plate, going 3-for-4 with two RBI and a career high three doubles. He drove in the first run of the game with a double in the second, before connecting on another double in the fourth and scoring on an RBI ground out from sophomore outfielder Gabe Holt in the fourth that made it 2-0.
After KSU got on the board in the fourth, Warren gave Tech a two-run advantage once again with a sacrifice fly in the fifth that brought in sophomore Dylan Neuse from third and making it a 3-1 game.
Neuse, who reached base four times Sunday and scored three of the team’s four runs, blasted Tech’s only home run of the weekend in the seventh inning to put Tech in front 4-2.
The Wildcats got their first two men aboard in the seventh with free passes, and a double from right fielder Dylan Phillips drove them in to tie the game. Freeman then came on to strikeout the bottom two hitters in the lineup before leadoff hitter Thomas Hughes lifted a line drive just high enough to escape a jumping Klein for the go-ahead run.
Tech certainly had its opportunities throughout the day, but left two on in the second, the bases loaded in the third and two more on in the fourth. Overall, the team hit 2-for-18 with runners on base.
The Red Raiders will travel to Albuquerque, N.M., for a two-game series Tuesday and Wednesday at New Mexico (14-13, 6-6). Tuesday’s first pitch at Santa Ana Star Field is set for 7 p.m. CT, and Wednesday’s contest will take place at 2 p.m. CT. The set is the first of two midweek series between the two teams as Tech hosts New Mexico on April 23-24.