Junior catcher Hunter Redman was so amped up to deliver for Texas Tech in the 11th inning Thursday night that he swung and missed at the first pitch he saw — which happened to be just a bit high.
“The first pitch is at my head and I decide to swing at it, so I got a little ancy up there at first,” Redman said. “I got two strikes and just settled in on my approach, and luckily I got a pitch to hit and put a good swing on it.”
And with that, the 23rd-ranked Red Raiders survived in extra innings as Redman delivered the game-winning, one-out RBI single to score Alec Humphreys from third for a 4-3 victory over West Virginia in front of 2,147 fans at Rip Griffin Park.
The win assures Tech (38-16, 12-10 in Big 12) of its first non-losing record in Big 12 Conference play since 2004 and clinches no worse than the No. 5 seed in next week’s Big 12 Championships in Oklahoma City.
“It’s big anytime you get a win the first game of the series,” head coach Tim Tadlock said. “It sets up the whole deal pretty good, and that was a well-played game on both sides.”
It was well played for 11 innings as well, thanks to a two-run ninth inning by the Mountaineers (27-22, 9-12). Tech had won 28 of its 32 games going into the series thanks to its ability to close games out, going 30-0 both home and away when leading after eight innings.
But WVU took advantage of some wildness by reliever Dominic Moreno, who hit two of the first three batters he faced, both of which scored on a Cameron O’Brien double and run-scoring groundout by Jackson Cramer.
That turned a 3-1 lead into a 3-3 game and seemed to give the momentum to the Mountaineers. But WVU was unable to take advantage, and missed an opportunity with runners at first and second with two outs in the 11th when reliever Cameron Smith (6-1) struck out Cramer to end the threat.
Tech, which had a chance to end the game in the ninth, didn’t waste its opportunity in the 11th.
“I think it’s fun,” first baseman Eric Gutierrez said of playing in extra innings. “I always want to be in these kinds of situations. I don’t think we’ve been in a lot of games like that this season but I look for an opportunity like that.”
The moment started when Alec Humphreys, a defensive replacement for third baseman Jake Barrios in the eighth, singled to start the 11th and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Devon Conley. Tim Proudfoot sent a liner to right-center that glanced off the glove of center fielder Bobby Boyd for a two-base error. It also put Humphreys 90 feet away with one out, and Redman delivered with Tech’s fifth victory this season in its last at-bat, singling off WVU reliever Sean Carley (5-3).
“Our guys were sticking with it and playing the game the right way,” Tadlock said. “You can’t always control the results — you can never control the results — but you can play the game the right way.”
Tech held a 3-1 lead going into the ninth after finally scratching out some runs against WVU starter Harrison Musgrave, the defending Big 12 Pitcher of the Year. Musgrave held the Red Raiders scoreless for five innings and had a 1-0 lead going into the sixth thanks to an RBI triple by Taylor Munden off Tech reliever Jonny Drozd.
“To get to a guy like Musgrave you have to get to him early most of the time,” Tadlock said. “We had an opportunity early and he settled in with two pitches about the fourth, fifth and sixth innings. He was settling in, changing speed and hitting his spots.”
But Tech tied the game in the sixth on an RBI double by Eric Gutierrez, his second double of the game. The Red Raiders took a 2-1 lead in the seventh on a bases-loaded wild pitch by Musgrave, then added a run in the eighth on a bloop single to right-center by Humphreys that feel between two WVU defenders.
Other than the Munden triple, Drozd was sharp for the Red Raiders in relief, allowing just one run on four hits and a walk with four strikeouts in 52/3 innings. He entered in the third for starter Corey Taylor, who scattered three hits and struck out one in 21/3 innings.
“I thought everybody that pitched at times was really good,” Tadlock said. “Corey was good early and did exactly what we needed. Jonny was really good and Dom was really bad, obviously he’d agree with us when he first came in. At the same time, he got back out there and put up some gooseggs and he did make some pitchers there, and that’s the sign of a great competitor when you can do that.”
Tech had a chance to win the game in the ninth after Proudfoot drew a leadoff walk as the first batter Carley faced, and went to second on a Redman sacrifice bunt. A wild pitch moved Proudfoot to third, who then tried to score on a passed ball but was thrown out on a close play at the plate.
It hurt more when Stephen Smith doubled to the wall in right center, a hit that would have scored Proudfoot. But Smith was stranded at second to end the inning.
Likewise, the Mountaineers had a chance to take the lead in the top of the 11th. A leadoff walk by Ryan McBroom and a single by Ray Guerrini put runners at second and first with one out, but Cameron Smith ended the threat with a strikeout of Cramer, setting Tech up for the win in the bottom of the inning.
“When you’re in this you’ve just got to approach it and have fun and enjoy the moment,” Gutierrez said.
The teams resume the series Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Rip Griffin Park.
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TEXAS TECH 4, WEST VIRGINIA 3, 11 innings
West Virginia Texas Tech
Player ab r h bi Player ab r h bi
Munden ss 5 0 2 1 SSmith rf 4 0 1 0
Boyd cf 4 0 0 0 Burleson 2b 5 1 1 0
Fleming 2b 5 0 0 0 Neslony lf 4 0 1 0
McBroom 1b 3 1 1 0 Davis pr 1 1 0 0
Rice lf 5 0 1 0 Gutierrez 1b 5 0 2 1
Johnson rf 3 0 1 0 Kirsch dh 5 0 1 0
Simms pr 0 1 0 0 Barrios 3b 3 0 0 0
Wood ph 1 0 0 0 Hmphrys 3b 2 1 2 1
O’Brien c 4 0 2 1 Conley cf 4 1 2 0
Fox pr 0 0 0 0 Proudfoot ss 4 0 0 0
Guerrini c 1 0 1 0 Redman c 4 0 3 1
Means dh 0 0 0 0
Cramer dh 5 0 1 1
Cnstntini 3b 3 1 0 0
Totals 39 3 9 3 Totals 41 4 13 3
West Virginia 000 010 002 00 — 3 9 2
Texas Tech 000 001 110 01 — 4 13 0
E — Boyd (5), Constantini (9). DP — West Virginia 1, Texas Tech 1. LOB — West Virginia 8, Texas Tech 10. 2B — Munden (16), O’Brien (10), SSmith (12), Burleson (18), Gutierrez 2(13), Conley (1). 3B — Munden (1). SH — Boyd (11), Conley (3), Redman (3). SB — Johnson (4), Davis (7). CS — Rice (5).
West Virginia ip h r er bb so
Musgrave 8 10 3 3 1 7
Carley (L, 5-3) 21/3 3 1 1 1 0
Taylor 21/3 3 0 0 0 1
Drozd 52/3 4 1 1 1 4
Moreno 22/3 2 2 2 1 3
CSmith (W, 6-1) 1/3 0 0 0 0 1
WP — Musgrave 2(5), Drozd (2). HBP — by Moreno (McBroom), by Moreno (Johnson). BK — Taylor (1). PB — Guerrini (5). U — Winters, Bullock, Hamilton, Sooter. T — 3:21. A — 2,147. Records: West Virginia 27-22, 9-12; Texas Tech 38-16, 12-10.