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Smith's solid relief effort, Long's two RBIs lift Tech to sweep of Oral Roberts

The left-handed junior transfer from New Mexico Junior College improved to 3-0 by working four innings of shutout relief

Posted: February 23, 2014 - 5:53pm  |  Updated: February 24, 2014 - 1:10am
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Texas Tech's Ryan Long connects to drive in a run against Oral Roberts during their game on Sunday in Lubbock. (Zach Long)  Zach Long/A-J Media
Zach Long/A-J Media
Texas Tech's Ryan Long connects to drive in a run against Oral Roberts during their game on Sunday in Lubbock. (Zach Long)
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While winning games is most important, the early part of a baseball season is spent finding in which roles certain players can thrive.

Sunday long relief appears to suit Cameron Smith just fine.

The left-handed junior transfer from New Mexico Junior College improved to 3-0 by working four innings of shutout relief — a week after he went six shutout innings against Indiana, and the 28th-ranked Red Raiders (6-1) completed the three-game weekend sweep of Oral Roberts, 4-1, at Rip Griffin Park.

Smith has allowed just one run, none earned, in four appearances this season covering 12 innings, and opposing batters are hitting just .209 off of him.

“When coach calls my name I just try to go out and do the best I can for the team,” Smith said. “Today was a huge team effort. My performance, as a whole, as a team, it was a huge team win.”

Smith staying in that role could be affected by the health of the person he came in to replace and the reason he replaced him.

Junior left-handed starter Chris Sadberry exited with one out in the third after giving up three straight singles, the final one ricocheting hard off his pitching hand. Sadberry tried to throw a warm-up pitch after shaking it off, but that pitch sailed to the backstop and he came out of the game.

Tech coach Tim Tadlock did not know immediately after the game how serious the injury was, but sounded optimistic since the ball hit on the “meat” part of Sadberry’s hand. But he didn’t hesitate to turn to Smith, who was still wearing a hoodie sweatshirt in the dugout when his name was called.

“He’s been pretty good so far,” Tadlock said of Smith. “We were talking about it in the dugout, that you knock the starter out, however you knock him out, and you get to see that guy come into the game. It’s not any easier chore. He wasn’t sharp the first batter but he didn’t give in and pitched through a couple of jams there and did a great job.”

Sadberry’s injury is just the latest in a weekend full of them. Junior shortstop Tim Proudfoot is out indefinitely with a left shoulder injury suffered during practice going into the weekend, and sophomore outfielder Tyler Neslony “tweaked” his right hand a day after hitting the decisive grand slam home run in Saturday’s 7-2 victory.

It will surely test the team’s depth this coming week as the Red Raiders hit the road for the first time this season with a single game at Stephen F. Austin on Thursday followed by the annual Houston College Classic Friday through Sunday.

But one thing Tech has shown through seven games is the ability to have several players step up at key times. Against ORU (1-5), it wasn’t much, but it didn’t have to be.

For the second straight day, the Red Raiders broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth. A walk, a Bryant Burleson double and an error loaded the bases for Eric Gutierrez, the team’s home run leader a year ago. Instead, he was hit by a pitch on the leg to force in the go-ahead run.

Adam Kirsch followed by hitting into a double play — one of five the Red Raiders hit into on Sunday, which tied an ORU school record — to plate another run, then Ryan Long followed with an RBI single between first and second to push the lead to 4-1. He also plated Tech’s first run of the game with a second-inning sacrifice fly.

“We’re confident with our pitchers and know they’re going to get the job done,” said Long, who made his first career start in the field after starting three games at designated hitter. “We’ve got a lot of guys on the team that really get the job done and a lot of great players. Our depth is huge.”

ORU had just one more threat after scoring its only run of the game in the fourth, when Smith walked the first batter he faced after coming in for Sadberry. He also gave up a hit and a walk in the fifth, and a wild pitch moved both runners into scoring position with two outs.

But Smith came back to get Matt Brandy on a grounder to third, then retired the next seven straight before a Brandon Healy one-out single in the eighth chased him from the game.

Sophomore right-hander Johnathon Tripp came in and worked the final five outs to earn the save in his first appearance of the season. He gave up a pair of hits in the ninth, but erased one of them with a double-play ball, then struck out Joey Migliaccio to seal Tech’s sixth straight victory.

Tech has just one home game left before hitting the road, that coming today at 1 p.m. against BYU. The Red Raiders started 8-1 in both 2011 and 2012, but the competition level this year when compared to those two seasons is much tougher.

“Sunday’s tough. Every day’s tough,” Tadlock said. “College baseball is a tough thing to go and play good baseball. For the most part we did that throughout the weekend. There’s room for improvement and we’re looking forward to getting to the yard (today).”

george.watson@lubbockonline.com

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TEXAS TECH 4, ORAL ROBERTS 1

Oral Roberts Texas Tech

Player ab r h bi Player ab r h bi

Forcier cf 4 0 1 0 Ritchie lf/rf 2 1 0 0

Healy 1b 3 1 2 0 Burleson 2b 3 1 1 0

Brandy 2b 4 0 1 0 Barrios 3b 4 1 0 0

Boss rf 4 0 1 0 Gutierrez 1b 3 1 1 1

Domenico lf 3 0 1 1 Kirsch rf 3 0 1 0

Trevino 3b 4 0 0 0 Hrrngtn rf 0 0 0 0

Afenir c 3 0 0 0 Lyons ph 1 0 1 0

Sequeira ph 1 0 1 0 Davis pr/lf 0 0 0 0

Wilson ss 2 0 0 0 Long ss 3 0 2 2

Davis ph 1 0 0 0 Broadbent dh 2 0 0 0

Mglccio ss 1 0 0 0 Floyd c 2 0 1 0

Colt dh 3 0 1 0 Smith cf 3 0 0 0

Conley cf 0 0 0 0

Totals 33 1 8 1 Totals 26 4 7 3

Oral Roberts 000 100 000 — 1 8 1

Texas Tech 010 003 000 — 4 7 0

E — Wilson. DP — Oral Roberts 5, Texas Tech 1. LOB — Oral Roberts 7, Texas Tech 6. 2B — Burleson (5). SF — Long (1). SB — Davis (2).

Pitching summaries

Pitcher ip h r er bb so

Oral Roberts

Glanz (L, 0-1) 5 5 3 0 2 0

Garza 1 1 1 0 1 0

Romano 2 1 0 0 0 3

Texas Tech

Sadberry 31/3 4 1 1 0 1

Smith (W, 3-0) 4 2 0 0 2 2

Tripp (S, 1) 12/3 2 0 0 0 1

WP — Smith (3). HBP — by Glanz (Ritchie), by Garza (Gutierrez), by Garza (Floyd), by Romano (Burleson). PB — Afenir (2). U — Sooter, Alexander, Howard, Leible. T — 2:19. A — 2,225. Records: Oral Roberts 1-5; Texas Tech 6-1.

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Wreck Em!

Way to start strong boys! Keep up the good work, and keep getting better every game!

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