December 1, 2022

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Tech faces Baylor with chance to gain ground in Big 12

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Texas Tech catcher Hudson White makes a snap throw to first during the Red Raiders' 8-5 loss Tuesday to Abilene Christian. No. 11 Tech plays Baylor in a three-game series starting Friday in Waco.

Texas Tech catcher Hudson White makes a snap throw to first during the Red Raiders’ 8-5 loss Tuesday to Abilene Christian. No. 11 Tech plays Baylor in a three-game series starting Friday in Waco.

Texas Tech baseball coach Tim Tadlock acknowledged this week that his team’s chances of hosting a regional for the sixth consecutive NCAA postseason are slipping away with the Red Raiders having lost 10 of their past 15 games.

Tech has dropped to No. 47 in the ratings percentage index, and almost certainly needs to be much higher if the Red Raiders are going to host a regional the first weekend in June.

Here’s one way to get the Division I baseball committee’s attention: Go win the Big 12 regular-season championship for the fourth time since 2016.

It’s doable, even as dreary as the Red Raiders’ results have been in April. No. 11 Tech (29-15, 9-6) is only 1 1/2 games out of first place as the Red Raiders go to Waco to face Baylor (21-20, 4-11) this weekend. The games are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday at Baylor Ballpark.

The conference race is wide open with the top four teams separated by 1 1/2 games, and by only one game in the loss column. No. 18 TCU (27-14, 12-6) has the lead and the inside track with the toughest part of its conference schedule out of the way.

The Horned Frogs play a non-conference series this weekend at Florida State, finish Big 12 play against Oklahoma and Kansas and have another non-conference series against Santa Clara.

So Tech will need some help.

But Tech has a good chance to gain ground on the other contenders this weekend.

No. 8 Oklahoma State (28-13, 10-5) and No. 7 Texas (31-13, 9-6) square off Friday through Sunday in Austin. OSU is a game behind TCU, and Texas is tied with Tech, one-half game behind the Cowboys.

West Virginia and Texas have both swept three-game sets from Baylor this month. If Tech can do the same, the Red Raiders can gain major ground if one team gets swept in the Oklahoma State-Texas series or on both if the Cowboys and Longhorns split.

Tech has conference series remaining May 13-15 at Oklahoma State and May 19-21 at home against Oklahoma.

“It’s real obvious: In the last few weeks, we’ve got to play good baseball and win games,” Tadlock said. “That’s really always been the case. There’s just times where guys give you a little more margin for error offensively or pitching or whatever it is.”

In Big 12 series, Tech is 8-2 in games started by No. 1 and No. 2 pitchers Andrew Morris and Brandon Birdsell and 1-4 in series finales as the Red Raiders have struggled to get dependable performances from a third starter and the bullpen.

Baylor’s pitching has been less reliable. The Bears’ team earned-run average of 5.63 is second worst in the Big 12. The Bears are scheduled start Friday night’s game with Jake Jackson (3-3), who has an 8.92 ERA, and go with Blake Helton (0-1) as Sunday’s starter. Helton has made only two appearances and one start this season.

But Baylor trounced Tech twice in a three-game series last year in Lubbock.

“Baylor always plays us tough,” Tadlock said. “They came in here last year and played us tough. It’s a Big 12 weekend, and so you know you’re going to have to show up and play good baseball.”

College baseball

Who: Texas Tech at Baylor

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday, 1 p.m. Sunday

Where: Baylor Ballpark, Waco

Records: Texas Tech 29-15, 9-6; Baylor 21-20, 4-11

Rankings in National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll: Texas Tech No. 11, Baylor unranked

Starting pitchers: Friday, Texas Tech RHP Andrew Morris (5-0, 3.70 earned-run average) vs. Baylor RHP Jake Jackson (3-3, 8.92). Saturday, Texas Tech RHP Brandon Birdsell (6-2, 2.17) vs. Baylor LHP Kobe Andrade (3-2, 4.50). Sunday, Texas Tech starter to be announced vs. Baylor RHP Blake Helton (0-1, 5.40).

Online streaming: Big 12 Now on ESPN+

This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: College baseball: Tech faces Baylor with chance to gain ground in Big 12 race

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