Trey Masek’s first appearance this spring was less than stellar as he struggled in mid-February in the Texas Tech Alumni game.
What a distant memory that seems to be now.
Masek is showing why he came out of the summer as a top-round draft pick, and he continues to climb higher in the draft charts after running his scoreless innings pitched streak to 32 on Saturday in a 4-1 win over UT-Arlington at Rip Griffin Park.
The junior right-hander held the Mavericks (8-6) to just two hits with no walks and seven strikeouts. He has pitched at least eight innings in his last three starts and lifted the Red Raiders (10-6) to their third straight win.
“I just want to look at it as keeping my team in the game,” Masek said. “I feel like the coaches did a good job of scouting those guys and getting a good game plan. From there it was just making pitches and letting my defense work behind me.
“I feel like I’m doing a good job keeping focus and sticking to the plan and keeping my team in the game.”
In four starts this season, Masek (3-0) has yet to allow a single run — earned or unearned. He has allowed just 15 hits and six walks while striking out 32. It is the longest scoreless innings streak by a Tech pitcher since Brandon Roberson had 21 straight in 2001.
UTA managed to get just one runner in scoring position all night, a two-out double by Derek Miller in the second inning. It would be the last baserunner allowed by Masek, who retired the final 19 batters he faced through eight innings.
The Mavericks’ lone run came in the ninth after Masek turned the game over to the bullpen
“It looked to me like just had total command of the whole game,” Tech coach Tim Tadlock said of Masek. “I don’t think he threw a handful of balls above the belt much less above the thigh. He was down in the zone while commanding a couple of pitches on both sides of the plate. Really impressive.”
According to the NCAA’s web site, only three pitchers entered the weekend having not allowed a run, Matt Lees at Virginia Commonwealth, Austin Pritcher at The Citadel, and Masek. Pritcher gave up three runs on Friday, while Lees is a closer with six saves in as many appearances. Neither have thrown as many innings as Masek.
“I just go out there and work my butt off during the week to get ready for the game and hope I can keep going,” Masek said.
Masek has also gone 18 consecutive innings without allowing a walk, a feat Tadlock feels goes hand in hand with the scoreless innings streak in limiting opportunities for opponents to push a run across.
“From a personal standpoint I’m trying to attack hitters more,” Masek said, “so I’d like to say the walks just because it means I’m getting in and getting out of there.”
Corey Taylor gave up a run on a triple by Jake Pinchback and a groundout to second by Ryan Walker in the ninth.
The Tech offense gave Masek just enough run support, taking advantage of opportunities allowed by the Mavericks and starting pitcher Zach Thompson.
The Red Raiders took a 1-0 lead when Eric Gutierrez singled to right and move to second on an error by right fielder Justin Copeland. Gutierrez scored on a pair of groundouts to short.
Tim Proudfoot pushed it to 2-0 in the fourth on a two-out bloop single to left center.
The Red Raiders made it 4-0 in the seventh on a Mason Randolph sacrifice fly to left and a bases-loaded walk to Bryant Burleson by UTA reliever Andy Scott.
With Masek shutting down the Mavericks, it would be all the Red Raiders would need.
“That gives us so much momentum,” said shortstop Tim Proudfoot, who drove in two of Tech’s four runs on the day, of Masek, “knowing that if we don’t get any runs in one inning he’s going to come out and shove on the guys and give us a chance to score some more runs.”
Not only did Masek’s performance help lead Tech to another victory, but it also puts the Red Raiders in position to possibly grab a momentum-building sweep with Big 12 Conference play starting next weekend at Texas.
“It’s huge,” Proudfoot said. “It shows that if we can show up the next day after two wins and come out and give it our best again, it’s going to be big.”
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TEXAS TECH 4, UT-ARLINGTON 1
UT-Arlington Texas Tech
Player ab r h bi Player ab r h bi
Pnchbck cf 4 1 1 0 Bell cf 3 0 0 0
Walker ss 4 0 0 1 Burleson 2b 3 0 0 1
Shortall dh 4 0 1 0 Conley rf 4 0 1 0
Copeland rf 3 0 0 0 Gutierrez 1b 4 1 2 0
McLmre 2b 3 0 0 0 Poteete dh 4 2 1 0
Twichell 1b 3 0 0 0 Proudfoot ss 3 0 1 2
Miller lf 3 0 1 0 Randolph c 2 0 0 1
Cuomo 3b 3 0 0 0 Barrios 3b 3 1 1 0
Garcia c 2 0 0 0 Davis lf 3 0 1 0
Dyvig ph 1 0 0 0
Totals 30 1 3 1 Totals 29 4 7 4
UT-Arlington 000 000 001 — 1 3 3
Texas Tech 010 100 20x — 4 7 0
E — Pinchback (1), Walker (6), Copeland (1). LOB — UTA 2, Texas Tech 7. 2B — Miller (3); Poteete (5). 3B — Pinchback (1); Gutierrez (2). SH — Proudfoot (1). SF — Randolph (1). SB — Poteete (1).
Pitcher ip h r er bb so
Thompson (L, 1-1) 62/3 6 4 3 1 1
Scott 1/3 1 0 0 2 0
Hucul 1 0 0 0 0 0
Masek (W, 3-0) 8 2 0 0 0 7
Taylor 1 1 1 1 0 2
WP — Thompson (2). HBP — by Hucul (Randolph). U — Landin, Leible, Sooter. T — 2:10. A — 2,462. Records: UT-Arlington 8-6; Texas Tech 10-6.