By Ty Parker
LUBBOCK, Texas – The No. 10 Texas Tech baseball team gave up five runs in the top of the second and never recovered in a 6-3 loss to UTRGV Tuesday in the first of two games between the two clubs at Rip Griffin Park.
Fresh off a three-game sweep of No. 16 Oklahoma State, The Red Raiders (29-14) committed a season-high four errors, including two in the five-run second. The Vaqueros (29-14) capitalized with 14 hits on the day to end Tech’s six-game winning streak.
While the Red Raiders managed just five hits in the game, they drew nine walks and had their chances with runners in scoring position. Luck was not on Tech’s side, however, as it hit just 3-of-17 with runners on base and 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
Catcher Conrado Diaz led UTRG with a 3-for-5 game. Leadoff hitter Coleman Grubbs went 2-for-6 with two RBI, and nine-hole hitter Jacob Hirsh added a 2-for-3 effort with two walks and two runs.
Starter Mason Montgomery took the loss for the Red Raiders with just two of his five runs earned. Junior Taylor Floyd provided 1.1 innings of relief before freshman Hunter Dobbins carried Tech through the sixth, keeping it a three-run game. Connor Queen and Caleb Freeman combined to toss the final three frames of scoreless ball.
UTRGV’s Max Balderrama Jr. (1-0) received the win. He was one of five relief pitchers that helped limit Tech to just one run over the final five frames. Vaquero starter Chase Adams went 4.0 innings and gave up two runs on five hits. Ryan Jackson closed out the ninth for his eighth save of the year.
Trailing 5-0 in the third, Tech had an opportunity for a big inning after back-to-back singles to open the frame from freshman Dru Baker and sophomore Braxton Fulford. Sophomore Gabe Holt came up and roped a line drive, but went directly into the glove of the Vaquero first baseman, who stepped on first for a double play. Sophomore Dylan Neuse followed with a double to the gap in left to score a run, but UTRGV minimized the damage with a Klein grounder that ended the inning.
An inning later, Tech had the bases loaded with one out but could only manage one run on a ground out from Baker that made it 5-2. With runners at second and third, Fulford smashed a liner right at the third baseman to strand both runners in scoring position.
After both teams plated a run in the sixth to make it 6-3, Tech got the bases loaded once again in the seventh, this time with no outs as Fulford, Holt and Neuse all drew walks. The Vaqueros got the first two outs with a shallow fly ball and a strikeout, bringing up Cameron Warren with two outs. The Big 12 RBI leader hammered a pitch to deep center field, but a running grab by Grubbs near the warning track kept Tech from tying the game.
Texas Tech will look to split the two-game set on Wednesday in a 2 p.m. first pitch on TexasTech.TV. The Red Raiders will go with junior left-hander Erikson Lanning on the mound, while UTRGV will throw junior right-hander Nick Hollas. Following the midweek series, Tech travels to Norman for its final Big 12 road series.