The Texas Tech Red Raiders started their NCAA baseball regional with a 6-3 win over Army on Friday afternoon in Lubbock. Here are three takeaways from the game as the Red Raiders prepare for Saturday’s game.
1. Cal Conley Leads the Power Surge
All-Big 12 shortstop Cal Conley has been one of Texas Tech’s best power hitters this season, and Friday’s win over Army allowed him to add to his season total and move into No. 2 by himself in home runs this season for the Red Raiders. That first home run, to right field in the bottom of the third inning, put the Red Raiders in the lead for good at 3-2. The second, coming in the bottom of the fifth, was a solo shot to center field to add to Tech’s lead. By game’s end Conley was 2-for-4 with two home runs and 3 RBI. He now has 15 home runs for the season. Braxton Fulford hit his own home run, but Conley was the true source of power on Friday.
And, in case you forgot that Conley has a great glove, he reminded you with a spinning throw from short to first base on a ground ball up the middle in the fifth inning.
READ MORE: Big 12 Basketball Transfer Tracker
READ MORE: Big 12 NBA Draft Tracker
2. Parker Kelly Ends his Drought
Parker Kelly hadn’t driven in a run in nearly two months when he picked up his bat in the bottom of the second inning as the order’s No. 9 hitter. But he finally ended that drought with a double to center field, which drove in Nate Rombach. That tied the game at 1-1, but it could have been a bigger play if the bounce had been a little different.
Before Kelly arrived at the plate, Easton Murrell walked and then advanced to second base on Rombach’s single. Kurt Wilson then hit a sacrifice fly that moved Murrell to third base. Then came Kelly’s double, or in reality, ground-rule double. That forced Rombach to stop at third base, as opposed to scoring as he might have if the ball had stayed in the park. Army escaped as Dru Baker flew out and Fulford struck out. But the Black Knights couldn’t escape forever.
3. Chase Hampton Did His Job
Trusting a true freshman to start the first game of an NCAA Regional, no matter how good that freshman is, can be a roll of the dice. Tech starter Chase Hampton made it well worth sending him to the hill against Army.
Despite the Black Knights pulling ahead twice early in the game, Hampton remained settled and threw six strong innings as the offense gave him all the run support he needed. He gave up seven hits, but only allowed the two runs (one earned). He struck out seven and walked just one.
The duration of Hampton’s start matched his career high of six innings against Kansas on May 22. Against the Jayhawks, he didn’t give up a run, plus he struck out seven and walked one. Hampton also remained undefeated as a starter (6-0).
The best part? This give head coach Tim Tadlock his remaining arsenal of starters to work with this weekend as the Red Raiders try to navigate out of this weekend and into the Super Regionals.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.
**Want to win a $20 gift card? Go sign up here and join our conversation! The best poster each week wins a gift card to your favorite establishment!**