After starting the season as the No. 3-ranked team in all the land, the Texas Tech Red Raiders have quickly shot up the polls and are the new top-ranked team in the nation in two separate polls: the National Collegiate Baseball Writer’s Association (NCBWA) and Collegiate Baseball Newspaper.
The Red Raiders have dominated their first four outings. They opened up the season with a visit from Houston Baptist and outscored them by a total of 29-4. In the first game of the season, Texas Tech was able to pick up their 32nd opening day win since 1985 and held Houston Baptist to only two hits in a 5-1 win. Texas Tech sent out a freshman-laden lineup that showed their strengths through the season's opening weekend. Clayton Beeter was the starting pitcher who made his first collegiate start for the Red Raiders and also picked up his first career win. Team stalwart Brian Klein notched his 46th multi-hit game of his career and the Red Raiders appeared to be clicking on all cylinders.
The second game between the two squads was cut short after seven innings of utter brilliance from each aspect of the Texas Tech lineup in a 24-3 win. The Red Raiders were on fire at the plate and launched seven home runs in the contest. That was their highest total of single-game home runs since they also rocketed seven home runs into the stands in a game against Missouri way back in 1997. Three pitchers made their Red Raider debuts and combined to allow only three runs from the mound. Division I National Player of the Week Nate Rombach is a freshman who hit a staggering three homers in this game and was the first to accomplish that feat since Michael Mask did it in 2004. Transfer pitcher Austin Becker picked up his first career win after notching only a few innings of playing time at Vanderbilt. He struck out four batters and helped his team head into their second series of the season with a ton of confidence.
After controlling the game against Houston Baptist, the Red Raiders faced-off against Northern Colorado a few hours later last Saturday afternoon. Texas Tech's offense kept the heat on the starting pitcher and bullpen as they continued their dominance against their second opponent of the year. Between the second game against HBU and the first contest with Northern Colorado, the Red Raiders combined for 46 runs scored on 45 hits. They launched four more homers against the Bears and the slugger Rombach was not done for the day. He sent another ball into the bleachers and finished his day with four home runs and five extra-base hits. Freshman shortstop Cal Conley hit an inside-the-park home run in the dismantling and also recorded a home run in consecutive games. On the mound, Bryce Bonnin had eight strikeouts and picked up his first win of the season.
In the final game of the weekend, the Red Raiders run-ruled their opponent for the second time in four games as they came out of Sunday with a 14-3 win. Texas Tech stole four bases and had six players record an RBI. Rombach once again hit another home run, his third straight game with at least one, and finished the weekend with a total of five. Mason Montgomery earned his first win of the season and did not walk a single batter in his four innings pitched.
The Red Raiders outscored their opponents 65-11 over opening weekend and launched themselves into the top spot in the nation. They showed excellent play on both offense and defense and had 24 shutout innings of baseball across the four games.
Their new No. 1-ranking is the highest the Red Raiders have been ranked since 1997. The competition will get tougher quickly with games against Stanford, Tennessee, and Houston awaiting this upcoming weekend.
Shawn Moran is the sportswriter at the Big Spring Herald. To contact him, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 432-263-7331.