Two big innings powered the Texas Longhorns past the Red Raiders, 9-5, in game one of their weekend series.
The Longhorn offense came alive Friday night as the team improved their record to 16-6 overall and 3-4 in Big 12 play. Texas took advantage of Texas Tech errors and rode the arms of Chance Ruffin and Austin Wood to secure the victory.
Tech jumped out to an early lead in the top of the third, getting the game’s first run on a solo home run from Jeremy Mayo that just squeezed by the right field foul pole. The Red Raiders added another run in the inning when Joey Kenworthy singled to left, stole second and was driven in on a single into center by Chris Richburg.
The Red Raiders jumped out with some early runs off Ruffin but wouldn’t hold a lead for the rest of the game. The Longhorn offense struck back in the bottom half of the inning, racking up five runs on four hits. Travis Tucker led off with a single into center and was moved to second on an infield single to the shortstop from Michael Torres. Brandon Belt followed with a bunt single and Kevin Keyes plated the Longhorns first run of the evening with a groundball to the shortstop. Preston Clark followed with a walk, once again loading the bases, this time for sophomore catcher Cameron Rupp. He delivered with a shot into the gap in left center, clearing the bases and giving the Longhorns a 4-2 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“His hit was the one that got everyone in the dugout fired up,” said Texas head coach Augie Garrido. “It really swung the momentum our way”.
The Longhorns added one more run in the inning on a sac fly from Brandon Loy which provided just enough of a buffer for sophomore Chance Ruffin. He went to work on the Red Raiders for 6.2 innings, striking out eight and walking none.
Ruffin did give up two more runs in the fifth and it looked as though Tech would threaten for more, but the Longhorn defense had other plans. Tech put runners on first and second and moved them over with a sacrifice bunt. An error on a pop fly to left field put one across, making the score 5-3, with runners on the corners. The next batter hit a deep line drive to the wall in right and the Raiders were thinking tie ballgame. Keyes, having other ideas, picked up the ball, took one step and threw a strike to Tucker in shallow right who sent a perfect relay to Rupp at home plate, nailing the runner from first by about ten feet.
Texas added some more in the seventh, mostly on account of what had to be a nightmare inning for anyone associated with the Texas Tech Red Raiders. Taking advantage of four errors from the Tech infield, a balk and three more infield singles, the Horns plated four runs and effectively put the game out of reach.
The Longhorn offense certainly took advantage of opportunities tonight, with timely hitting, some defensive mishaps and patient at bats, something the players have to feel good about.
“We have so much talent,” said Rupp. “We’ve had some bad luck but we’ve been getting some big hits lately. I think it’s just a matter of time before we really get going.”
Austin Wood finished the game with another excellent performance earning the 2.1 inning save, his fourth of the season.
“You don’t win championships without a closer like that,” said Garrido. “He’s absolutely essential to the team”.
I’ve heard of championship teams with great closers but never championship teams with sub – .500 conference records. The Longhorns will attempt to get back to .500 tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. Brandon Workman (3-1, 1.34 ERA) will take the mound for Texas and A.J. Ramos (2-1, 2.78 ERA) will be on the bump for Tech.