Tech Prepares for Huge Series in Fort Worth

Texas Tech parlayed a fortuitous break against Baylor on Sunday into a win and then exploded for 20 run against Stephen F. Austin back in Lubbock on Tuesday, before dropping the second game the next day. Now the Red Raiders head to Fort Worth for an important three-game tilt against TCU. writer Cameron Brock breaks down what it all means in his weekly column.

Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good. Texas Tech caught a major break Sunday when Lane Kelly dropped a routine fly ball in the eighth inning in Waco Sunday. The Bears were on the verge of sweeping a Texas Tech team who scored one run in the first 25 innings of the series.

The Red Raiders scored seven runs, all with two outs, in the same inning after Kelly dropped the ball. Tech used the momentum to plate 20 runs in a delayed Tuesday game against Stephen F. Austin. Ol' Mo wouldn't stay long though as Tech dropped the finale against the Lumberjacks.

There is no debate the pitching this season has been stellar. The offense is currently diagnosed with a Jekyll & Hyde disorder without Tyler Neslony and Tim Proudfoot in the lineup.

Ace Dominic Moreno has been itching for my pitcher of the week for quite some time now. He receives it this week. There is no hiding from the truth. The offense is pathetic on Fridays. It's consistent. The Red Raiders have lost two Friday games by a score of 1-0. Both losses featured first inning runs. As the game goes on, it seems Moreno gets stronger. In four Friday games, Tech has laid a goose egg three times. Moreno deserves better.

Senior third baseman Jake Barrios continues to heat up. He produced four hits in the first two games of the Baylor series and recorded the only RBI in the two games. After producing another hit Sunday, I forgive Barrios for his 0-for-4 day Wednesday, especially after his bat just about carried the whole load during the offensive struggle. The Weatherford, Okla. native still went 3-for-3 Tuesday night scoring four runs and producing another RBI.

Texas Tech faces another road series this weekend. The Red Raiders travel to Fort Worth finding themselves in a series against TCU. Tech's recent history against the Horned Frogs is dreadful, but unlike Rice, there is some glimmer of hope. Tech took the latest matchup of the series last season to notch their first win against TCU since 2007. The Red Raiders have not won in Fort Worth since 2005 dropping eight straight.

For those who kept up with the Houston College Classic, this is not the Horned Frogs best team in recent memory. Tech played abysmal in Houston, yet looked much better than TCU. The Horned Frogs were able to give Houston their first loss, but Tech faced Houston's ace Aaron Garza. The team in purple dropped a 1-0 decision to Rice and was slaughtered by Sam Houston State. TCU scored four runs in the ninth inning to avoid a 9-0 shutout from the Bearkats.

The Horned Frogs have also struggled at home. While their home record says 9-4, two of those four losses came against a Michigan State squad who was selected to finish fourth in the Big Ten behind preseason favorite Indiana. Take away the recent three-game sweep against Dartmouth and the Horned Frogs are 6-4 at home.

Expect another weekend full of offensive struggles and stellar pitching. Both teams feature exactly that as Brandon Finnegan and Preston Morrison have combined for 12 complete games. Finnegan is tied as the nation's leader with 55 strikeouts. In 20 games this season, TCU has allowed four or more runs in six games.

I must state the obvious by saying every Big 12 series is crucial. The reasons change through the course of each series though. Tech is running out of time to show they are proven road warriors. There are just two conference road series left when the Red Raiders finish up their work in Fort Worth. Outside of conference play, Tech has three true road tests and one of those is against Oral Roberts. The selection committee wants to see quality road victories and Tech is running out of opportunities.

On the other hand, Tech can't get enough early conference victories. The Longhorns visit Lubbock next weekend and Tech would prefer to enter that series with at least a .500 record. Aside from victory momentum, Tech also needs to get the bats going. The key to beating TCU and Texas is offense. Place five runs on both teams and chances are neither of these two conference foes will be able to keep up. The Horned Frogs average 4.25 runs per game and Texas is worse. Even with the Friday woes and the Baylor series, the Red Raiders cross the plate 6.17 times per game. If the offense is there and the pitching continues its tremendous start to the season, Tech has the potential to sweep both teams.

The rivalry continues with a 6:30 first pitch time.

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