One of the most patient hitters in the Big 12, Stephen Smith started his season swinging.
The former Frenship standout pounded out four hits — the first Texas Tech player to do so on opening day — and the Red Raiders used a pair of big innings to blowout Milwaukee 12-3 as it opened the 2016 season at Rip Griffin Park on Friday.
Smith finished the game 4 of 5 with three RBIs, three runs and three doubles.
“Stephen played well today. That ball must have been like a watermelon,” Texas Tech first baseman Eric Gutierrez said.
TEXAS TECH VS. MILWAUKEE
FRIDAY, 2 P.M.
SATURDAY, NOON AND 4 P.M.
Ready to go
The Red Raiders are ready to face someone else.
“It’s always the pitchers complaining because we’ve seen everything they can throw,” senior Tyler Floyd said. “We’re getting a few more hits off them. Then all of a sudden they start doing stuff they normally don’t do, so the hitters get mad. It’s not chippy, really. I think we’re just excited to do what we do against someone else and see how it goes.”
Date Opponent/Event Location Time
Feb. 19 Milwaukee Lubbock 2 p.m.
Feb. 20 Milwaukee (2) Lubbock noon and 4 p.m.
Feb. 21 Milwaukee Lubbock noon
Feb. 24 Sam Houston State Huntsville 6:30 p.m.
Feb. 26 x- Houston Houston noon
Feb. 27 x- Louisiana-Lafayette Houston noon
Feb. 28 x- Arkansas Houston 11 a.m.
March 1 New Mexico State Lubbock 6:30 p.m.
March 2 New Mexico State Lubbock 2 p.m.
March 4 Cal State Fullerton Lubbock 6:30 p.m.
March 5 Cal State Fullerton Lubbock 2 p.m.
A year ago, Kholeton Sanchez wasn’t strong enough.
His arm has always been the key aspect to the Texas Tech catcher’s game, but on Jan. 27, three weeks before the 2015 season was slated to begin, Sanchez underwent Tommy John surgery.
It wasn’t how the junior college transfer catcher pictured his first season in Lubbock.
“It’s been a full process ever since,” Sanchez said. “It was a long time and a lot of hours spent in the training room and the weight room trying to get healthy and back to what things used to be.”
And he’s getting there.
Texas Tech graduated its two top pitchers last season, Corey Taylor and Dominic Moreno. But Tim Tadlock has plenty of depth to replace the talents lost. The Texas Tech coach said Moseley will be a Friday or Saturday guy this season after he finished last year with a 3.46 ERA. Ty Damron should also see plenty of time on the mound for the Red Raiders after he finished last season with a 4-2 record and a 3.58 ERA. While the returners are strong, Texas Tech brought in junior college transfer Chandler Eden.
One of the Big 12’s most powerful hitters is working to get back in the swing of things.
Tyler Neslony’s .498 career slugging percentage leads all league returners, a feat accomplished despite his health struggles the past two seasons.
In the final game of the 2014 College World Series, Neslony suffered an injury to his left shoulder and underwent surgery the following August.
It wasn’t until two weeks before the start of his junior campaign that he was finally cleared.
When asked which ballpark he was most excited to go to that Texas Tech didn’t get to play in last season, Tim Tadlock had plenty of options to choose from.
The Red Raiders are slated to play at four professional stadiums: Minute Maid Park in Houston, Globe Life Park in Arlington, Security Bank Ballpark in Round Rock and Dr. Pepper Ballpark in Frisco.
But the Texas Tech coach’s answer was simple and came quickly.
Texas Tech enters the 2016 season picked to finish fifth in the Big 12 standings, the league office announced Thursday morning as part of its preseason poll.
The Red Raiders received 38 points in a vote by the conference coaches, trailing preseason favorite TCU (57) as well as Oklahoma State (55), Texas (53) and Oklahoma (45). TCU, Oklahoma State and Texas all garnered three first-place votes.
Tech received 12 points more than sixth-place West Virginia while Kansas and Kansas State finished in a tie for seventh with 18 points and Baylor rounded out the poll with 14 points.
When asked who he was most excited about for the upcoming season, Tim Tadlock answered, “1-25.”
He didn’t want to pinpoint one particular guy because he’s excited about all of them.
The Texas Tech head coach returns one of the most experienced rosters of his tenure as 19 players return from 2015, including seven position starters and seven pitchers from a year ago. The group is joined by a talented class of 15 newcomers as well as two returning redshirts in Kholeton Sanchez and Garrett Bruce.