Tech Unleashes Offense in Win, 21-1

The Red Raiders used some timely hitting and strong pitching to take down the Bulldogs on Tuesday.

The one area of concern for the Red Raiders coming off a two-game sweep by TCU during the weekend was the lingering issue of not capitalizing when there were chances to score.

Lack of scoring was definitely not a problem for No. 27 Texas Tech as it returned home for the first time since February 27 on Tuesday at Rip Griffin Park and promptly found its swing again dismantling Alabama A&M, 21-1.

"Scoring the runs, I think there's a little relief," Tech head coach Dan Spencer said. "We scored some runs obviously down at Arizona State and had some opportunities this weekend at TCU to score some runs and didn't. So getting our guys going a little bit offensively was really good."

Heading into the bottom of the third, the Red Raiders (11-5) were struggling once again to get any type of offensive grove going as they had already stranded a runner at third base and ended an inning with a double play.

But with the bases loaded, Tech center fielder Barrett Barnes stepped into the box and provided the spark the offense had been missing of late with a bases-clearing triple.

It marked the first three-bagger of the season for Barnes and the fourth of his career, and after this everyone else in the Tech lineup started swinging away and finding success as well.

With a 4-1 lead in hand, the Red Raiders added to that as they batted around in the fourth inning sending 12 batters to the plate and scoring the majority of their eight runs on three doubles.

Tech freshman Bryant Burleson, who finished the game going 3-for-6, driving in five runs on two doubles, said when the team gets going like that it's contagious throughout the entire lineup.

"It seems that way, when the pitchers out there throwing hard and getting us out it seems harder to get a hit," he said. "Then today when everyone's hitting it seems to keep rolling."

With the Red Raiders scoring runs like crazy, the same could not be said for the Bulldogs sitting in the opposite dugout.

Alabama A&M (5-13) grabbed an early lead in the game as an RBI double off the bat of catcher Taylor Lindsey drove in third baseman Julio Nunez to take a 1-0 lead in the second inning.

Not knowing it at the time, but the Lindsey double ended up being the final hit of the game that the Bulldogs would record as the combination of four Tech pitchers proceeded to set down 21 batter in-a-row to close out the game.

"The guys on the mound did fine, they worked fast, they threw strikes and we took care of all the balls," Spencer said. "We took care of the ground balls and we didn't give them any free opportunities."

Among the pitchers were a familiar face in a Red Raider uniform, but an unfamiliar one so far in the 2012 campaign.

On Tuesday, Tech senior right-handed pitcher Brennan Stewart made his first appearance of the 2012 season since undergoing back surgery on December 23.

"It was awesome," Stewart said. "I knew with the people I had around me I'd get back, but to be back here and support the team, to contribute to the team, it's awesome, it really is. I feel very blessed, really do."

Stewart came out and threw a solid two innings throwing just 20 pitches, but faced the minimum, striking out three and allowing no base runners to reach safely.

Tech continued to pile on the runs until the final score came to 21-1 and the final out was recorded giving Rusty Shellhorn (3-1), who got the start, the win as he went a pre-determined three innings, giving up two hits, one run and struck out three.

While the Red Raiders trotted out just four pitchers in the game, the Bulldogs were forced to go to their bullpen five times, with the most damage coming against their starter Champ Adams.

Adams (1-2) lasted just three and two-thirds innings giving up nine runs, which were all earned and was handed the loss.

Despite scoring a ton of runs against the Bulldogs and running their starter from the game in the fourth inning, Spencer said his message to the team was simple after the game – there is another one tomorrow.

"That it's a two-game series," he said. "And it was the same message that I told our guys two years ago when we played Alabama A&M, like I said it was a different Alabama A&M, this is a better team. We beat them pretty good the first night and I said ‘Now it's going to be harder for you because you beat them and your going to relax.' Anyway we came out and we had Chad Bettis, our closer, in that game a 2-0 game with a man on first base.

"We need to be sharp and we need to again play good baseball, take care of the ground balls, throw strikes and do something situationally when we get chances to hit."

The Red Raiders are back on the field tomorrow against the Bulldogs in an afternoon game with first pitch set for 1 p.m. at Rip Griffin Park.

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