The Texas Tech baseball team has preached all year the mantra of being able to put one loss behind it and focus on the next game.
The Red Raiders did that once this weekend to tie their series against No. 12 Texas on Saturday, making Sunday a winner-take-all for the weekend. But Sunday’s loss might be a little harder to shake off.
After dramatically tying the game with two outs in the bottom of the ninth on a Zach Davis steal of home, the 24th-ranked Red Raiders could not build on the momentum, and Texas took advantage by scoring three runs in the top of the 12th inning for a 5-2 win, breaking a 12-series losing streak that dated back to 2012.
Madison Carter’s two-out RBI single to right scored the go-ahead run, and an error on Tech right fielder Stephen Smith allowed another run to score. Brooks Marlow then ripped an RBI single to left to put the Longhorns (22-7, 3-3) comfortably in front and give them their first series victory of the season.
And for the Red Raiders (22-9, 4-5), it was a disappointing end to a game in which they struggled to score for eight innings. They tied the game in the ninth only to come up short in scoring situations in the 10th and 11th innings. That allowed UT to escape with the victory.
“It’s tough on us but tomorrow’s a new day,” said outfielder Alec Humphreys, who plated Tech’s first run in the ninth with an RBI single to right. “It’s baseball. There’s a lot of games. It’s tough but a loss is still a loss. We can bounce back from anything and we’ll be all right.”
The loss kept the Red Raiders from winning back-to-back series for the first time since the start of the 2011 season. It also gave UT its first conference series victory since beating Kansas in mid-April of 2012.
“For some it was a 500-pound gorilla. For us, we’re just trying to get better,” Texas coach Augie Garrido said. “This was a better way for us to win than 2-0 because it took resiliency and it took a lot of courage and it took a lot of mental toughness, and that’s what’s we’ve been trying to get in the way of attitude to these guys. It showed up today.”
For eight innings, it appeared the Longhorns would cruise to an easy 2-0 win. Texas starter Nathan Thornhill left in the sixth inning have held the Red Raiders scoreless on just four hits and two walks with four strikeouts, and Morgan Cooper got the game to the eighth and into the hands of UT closer John Curtiss (1-0), who was a perfect 4 for 4 in save opportunities this year.
UT scored one in the first on a Tres Barrera RBI single, then added a second run in the third on a leadoff home run by Ben Johnson that snuck just inside the foul pole and just over the fence.
Tech, meanwhile, struggled to generate offense, twice grounding into double plays in the first four innings and leaving six runners on base through the first eight innings, four in scoring position.
Down to its last inning, however, Tech found a way to tie it. With one out, Adam Kirsch walked and Tyler Neslony singled to left. Both were lifted for pinch-runners, and with runners at the corners, Humphreys blooped a single just in front of UT right-fielder Collin Shaw, allowing Devon Conley to score.
A Hunter Redman groundout moved the runners up a base, and things looked dire as Tim Proudfoot quickly got two strikes on him. But head coach Tim Tadlock pulled the trigger, and speedy Zach Davis took advantage of Curtiss’ slow delivery out of the windup to steal home and tie the game at 2 and giving Curtiss his first blown save of the season.
“Trying to win,” Tadlock said of the call. “Basically just trying to win the game, the guy’s in the windup. Wish I’d made some other decisions the right way.”
Those might have been the ones in the extra innings, when Tech had two chances to end the game.
In the 10th, Tech put two on via walks around a sacrifice bunt by Bryant Burleson. Eric Gutierrez grounded weakly to short to move Smith to third. Conley then tried to end the game with a squeeze bunt, but Curtiss fielded the ball toward the first-base line and threw out Conley by a half step to keep the game tied.
In the 11th, Tech got the first two runners on with a walk and a C.J. Hinojosa error. Redman laid down a bunt, but first baseman Alex Silver fielded and threw out the lead runner at third. Proudfoot lined out to center and Smith grounded out to second to strand the winning run at second.
UT then took advantage in the 12th. Matt Withrow (3-2), who came on to end a Texas rally in the top of the 11th, issued a leadoff walk to Shaw and a two-out walk to Silver. Carter then singled between first and second to score Shaw from second, and the ball rolled under Smith’s glove and to the wall, allowing Silver to come around and Carter to reach third. Marlow then sealed the win with his single to left.
And with that, Tech now loses the advantage it had from winning a road Big 12 Conference series last week at TCU by losing one at home, and must go on the road for four games this week, including a league series at Oklahoma State, where Tech has won a series just once since 2004.
“I’m pretty disappointed, everyone in that locker room is pretty disappointed,” Tadlock said. “Right now, it’s OK to be disappointed. But the guys are resilient and will come back ready to go tomorrow.”
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TEXAS 5, TEXAS TECH 2, 12 innings
Texas Texas Tech
Player ab r h bi Player ab r h bi
Marlow 2b 6 0 2 1 SSmith cf 5 0 0 0
Johnson lf 6 2 3 1 Burleson 2b 4 0 2 0
Payton cf 5 0 0 0 Barrios 3b 3 0 0 0
Barrera c 6 0 1 1 Gutierrez 1b 6 0 1 0
Shaw rf 4 1 1 0 Kirsch rf 3 0 0 0
Gurwitz 3b 5 0 0 0 Conley pr 2 1 0 0
Hinojosa ss 5 0 3 0 Neslony lf 4 0 1 0
Clemens 1b 2 0 0 0 Davis pr 0 1 0 0
Silver ph 3 1 0 0 Ritchie lf 0 0 0 0
Carter dh 6 1 3 1 Drozd dh 0 0 0 0
Long ph 1 0 0 0
Hmphys dh 4 0 2 1
Floyd c 1 0 0 0
Redman c 4 0 1 0
Proudfoot ss 5 0 1 0
Totals 48 5 13 4 Totals 42 2 8 1
Texas 101 000 000 003 — 5 13 1
Texas Tech 000 000 002 00x — 2 8 1
E — Hinojosa (6), Smith (3). DP — Texas 2. LOB — Texas 15, Texas Tech 12. 2B — Marlow (3), Johnson (4), Burleson (11). HR — Johnson (3). SH — Gurwitz (3), Burleson (3). SB — Payton (5). Shaw 2(7), Davis (4), Humphreys (3). CS — Shaw (3).
Pitcher ip h r er bb so
Thornhill 51/3 4 0 0 2 4
Cooper 12/3 2 0 0 0 0
Curtiss (W, 1-0) 5 2 2 2 4 4
Sadberry 51/3 8 2 2 0 5
Taylor 2/3 0 0 0 1 2
Moseley 41/3 3 0 0 3 3
Smith 1/3 0 0 0 0 0
Withrow (L, 3-2) 11/3 2 3 1 2 0
WP — Curtiss 2(2), Sadberry (2), Moseley (2). HBP — by Sadberry (Shaw); by Curtiss (Barrios). BK — Curtiss (1). PB — Floyd (2). U — Morris, Brown, Wiley, Schepis. T — 3:53. A — 3,992. Records: Texas 22-7, 3-3; Texas Tech 22-9, 4-5.