With only one full day of team practice under its belt, the 2013 Texas Tech baseball team took the field Saturday for the fourth annual game against the Red Raider alumni.
Given that the team had been together as a whole for just over 24 hours, first-year head coach Tim Tadlock wasn’t concerned too much that some players were able to find their rhythm early while others struggled.
“It’s about rhythm and timing, and getting at-bats and getting on the mound and finding that timing,” Tadlock said after the 2013 Red Raiders beat the alumni 5-4. “You saw some guys that needed to find some, and some that don’t. But it’s just good to get on the field again.”
One of those who apparently has come back in a groove is sophomore second baseman Bryant Burleson, who went 3 for 4 and drove in the go-ahead run with an RBI single in the bottom of the eighth. Burleson is one of only a handful of returning players from last season, which could give him just a bit of an edge.
He also had a solid game in the field as well, as he and returning sophomore shortstop Tim Proudfoot turned three double plays in the first five innings.
“It was fun because half those guys I played with last year and the other half I grew up watching,” Burleson said. “Especially (being) the second day of live pitching, we haven’t seen that in a couple of months, so it will be fine, the rest of the guys will be fine. I just got a few good pitches to hit, and they found the holes.”
Sophomore first baseman Blake Bass, an imposing figure at the plate at 6-foot-7 and 255 pounds, also had a solid day. The Coronado product had a pair of hits with a double and drove in the eventual game-winning run with an eighth-inning single.
Among the newcomers, freshman catcher Jarrard Poteete drove in the 2013 teams’ first run with a second-inning double. On the mound, right-handers Corey Taylor, Johnathon Tripp and Dominic Moreno, all newcomers, combined for six innings of scoreless relief with just three hits and one walk allowed. Moreno also struck out a pair.
Newcomer Johnny Drozd, a left-handed transfer from Grayson County who missed a chunk of the fall due to injury, earned the win despite allowing an unearned run on two throwing errors.
“For the first time it felt really good to be back out there,” Drozd said. “Those were the first live hitters I’ve been back against, so it took a little time to get the feel back where I could get my feet under me and get a groove going.”
One of the current Red Raiders who struggled to find a grove — and therefore might give Tech fans reason for pause — was starting pitcher Trey Masek. Considered a lock for a weekend rotation spot and a strong contender for Friday nights, Masek had trouble finding the strike zone, walking the first three batters he faced and four of the first five.
Masek pitched just one inning and allowed two runs on a hit and four walks with one strikeout. But Tadlock was not worried about his junior right-hander.
“He’ll be fine,” Tadlock said. “That was like his first outing in spring training. It was good to just get him on the mound.”
Speaking of spring training, the top of the alumni batting order was an impressive list of current pro players, three of whom were playing in this same game a year ago but for the current team.
“It was definitely different looking over and us knowing maybe five or six guys on the other team,” said Reid Redman, Tech’s starting third baseman the past two years who is the Tampa organization. “But it’s one of those things where everything has transition and this is the time for it here. They’re a bunch of young guys but they’re good and will be good for years to come. Coach Tadlock has them playing well and they’re going to compete and be fine.”
Maybe the most impressive play of the day was turned in by an alum not even playing his normal position. Right-handed pitcher and Estacado product A.J. Ramos played one inning in left field and displayed his right arm by throwing out Zach Davis trying to score from second on a Burleson single.
“That’s something I’ve always thought about in my head as a pitcher because you want every play to be made,” Ramos said. “A ball like that sometimes the play doesn’t get made, and in my head I’m always thinking ‘I can make that play every time.’ I got out there and got a chance to do it, and it was a pretty cool experience.”
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TEXAS TECH 5, TECH ALUMNI 4
Tech Alumni 200 000 011 — 4 6 1
Texas Tech 020 000 120 — 5 10 2
vonSchamann, Hynes (3), Doran (5), Brandenburg (6), Morgan (8), Bettis (9) and Altobelli, Mayo (6); Masek, Taylor (2), Tripp (4), Moreno (6), Drozd (8) and Randloph, Richoux (6). W — Drozd. L — Morgan. 2B — Richoux, Bass. 3B — Randolph. E — Blasingame, Drozd (2). SF — Altobelli, A. Humphreys. T — 2:29.