Big 12 Baseball

Texas Tech’s Walk-Off Win Over OU Puts Red Raiders in Great Position

Texas Tech baseball. (Big 12 photo by Tim Heitman)

ARLINGTON, Texas — Sometimes this is how streaks end, in the dead of night on an RBI single by a redshirt freshman who hasn’t had a hit that week.

Kevin Bazzell spent a fall season in 2022 with Dallas Baptist, not altogether a bad place to play college baseball. But he transferred to Texas Tech last spring, used his redshirt, and then carved out a job with the Red Raiders this season.

 

On Thursday night, around 11:30 p.m., Bazzell’s RBI single — a bases-loaded single down the third-base line — brought home the winning run in Texas Tech’s 10-9 walk-off win over Oklahoma in the Big 12 Tournament.

It was Texas Tech’s fourth straight single of the inning. It was station-to-station baseball at its purest.

“That pitch was really good, really good stuff and everybody just kind of got their pitch to hit,” Bazzell said. “And as it started getting closer, I realized now there’s a real shot for me to come up in this situation. For the other guys that get it to that spot, it is a really big deal.”

Now the Red Raiders (39-19) don’t have to play on Friday. The Sooners (31-25) do, and the Sooners will be playing for their tournament lives.

“It definitely helps, we would’ve had some guys off the board if we had to play tomorrow, but more than anything it allows us to run a starter out there and have the bullpen ready to go,” Texas Tech head coach Tim Tadlock said.

 

The game was even on paper. Both teams finished within a game of each other in Big 12 play. In fact, the Red Raiders were .500 in league action. The Sooners were a game behind.

In their meeting in Norman earlier this season, the Red Raiders took two out of three. This looked like a pick ’em.

But, put the Sooners and the Red Raiders against one another in the Big 12 Tournament and something weird happens. Suddenly, things get one-sided.

Entering the game the Sooners had beaten the Red Raiders seven straight times in the Big 12 Tournament. Plus, the Red Raiders hadn’t gone 2-0 to start a Big 12 Tournament in a quarter-century.

So there goes that streak. The Red Raiders finally snapped it in half in a game where the odd things that make baseball, well, baseball seemed to work against them.

Fall behind 5-0 in the bottom of the fourth? Ok, fine. The Red Raiders scored four unearned runs after two errors by Sooners’ second baseman Jackson Nicklaus. One was a pop-up that he just inexplicably dropped. The red Raiders are down 5-4 and back in the game, right?

 

Nope, Sooners come right back and score four runs in the next two innings to make it 9-5.

Texas Tech could have tied in the sixth. Bases loaded. Austin Green is at the plate. The left-handed hitter nearly got the job done. He needed about five more feet. Instead, a leaping John Spikerman caught the fly ball right at the right-field wall — and avoided right fielder Bryce Madron — to put an end to the potential drama.

The Red Raiders got the home run in the seventh. Dylan Maxcey drilled one down the left-field line. By the end of the game, Texas Tech stranded 12 runners. It was a constant theme. Capitalizing on opportunities, but just not the one the Red Raiders needed to win.

Until the ninth inning with two outs and the bases loaded. This time, the Red Raiders cashed it in, snapped the streak, and earned a day of rest.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard

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