"Fortune favors the bold."
Tim Tadlock took a page out of Texas Tech head football coach Kliff Kingsbury's playbook last week.
Sometimes the offense just does not click and the best thing to do is make something happen. In the bottom of the ninth inning with two outs and two strikes against Tim Proudfoot, Zach Davis stole home and tied up the ballgame Sunday. The Red Raiders eventually lost in extra innings, but the play gives the program another reason to lift their spirits and believe they can do things outsiders didn't think they could.
A great example is the preseason coach's poll. Tech was picked to finish eighth, only in front of Kansas. Clearly the Red Raiders have other plans, but the season just got into April and there is still a long way to go.
Losing two out of three to Texas is not a big deal. The Longhorns have talent and their offense clicked. Unfortunately for Tech fans, Texas decided to wake up their bats for the series against the Red Raiders. The series loss is certainly detrimental to any chance of Tech making a surprise run towards the Big 12 regular season championship, but this is a program that has not made a regional since 2004. The first goal on the list is to make a regional.
Tech's best friend this week was the backstop. The Red Raiders scored six runs without swinging the bat. Three of the six runs came on wild pitches or passed balls. The team in scarlet and black also scored two runs on bases loaded walks. If you counted five runs, maybe you're forgetting about the miraculous head-first slide into home plate Davis pulled off to tie Sunday's game.
Texas Tech capitalized on errors this week and it brought them two victories. The pitching was not its best and the offense was not there. Many of the runs came from the opposition playing bad baseball.
If you haven't already guessed my player of the week, you're behind the eight ball. Zach Davis is the clear choice this week with the steal of home plate. The entire play was gutsy, but it worked to perfection. The steal gave Tech the momentum and nearly sparked a victory. Davis is a role player this season. To the average fan, Davis is an afterthought. He rarely sees playing time and when he does, it usually comes in the form of pinch-running. The fact is Davis was given one task and he did his job. Davis is reminder to everyone, if each player focuses on their own job, good things will happen.
One week ago, I picked Jonny Drozd over Dylan Dusek for the pitcher of the week honors due to strength of schedule. Drozd had a nice stat line this week and strength of schedule certainly was in his favor, but Dusek didn't rely on some miraculous defensive plays for his stat line this week. Dusek is my pitcher of the week as he continues to work his way into a future rotation spot. The freshman improved to 4-0 in his career tossing more than six innings allowing two earned runs on seven hits and not a single walk. Dusek also struck out four in the victory over New Mexico.
Tech fans should not want Dusek to become a rotation starter this year though. One does not mess with success and he'd be pitching on short rest. Take him off the midweek starts and you are jeopardizing the future health of a valuable arm in the next two seasons. These midweek games are a tremendous learning environment for him and can boost his comfort zone as a division one pitcher.
Meanwhile, the schedule rears its ugly head to the weekend where Oklahoma State awaits. The Cowboys are a nationally ranked program who the jury is still debating on. Other than a midweek game with Oklahoma, the only power conference opponent Oklahoma State played in non-conference was Arizona State. Outside of the Sun Devils, San Diego is the only opposition from a notable baseball conference.
The hitter to watch out for is sophomore Conor Costello. He's on a hot streak in conference play with a .381 batting average and an on base percentage over .400.
Looking at the stats for the team from Stillwater, they hit a lot of home runs. Take a deeper look though. Their three home run leaders have produced 14 home runs this season and only one of those came against a power conference team. Zach Fish launched a home run against TCU Sunday.
Oklahoma State's pitching is not in the best of shape. The only current consistent starter is Jon Perrin, who started out the year in the bullpen. The Cowboys have played two conference opponents, both of whom Tech played and ended up with similar results.
On the flip side, this series is a bigger series for the Red Raiders than the Texas series. Tech is down to its final nine true road tests, six of which are Big 12 Conference games. With all due respect to Dallas Baptist and Kansas for potentially making a regional, Oklahoma State is the final chance to make a road statement. The TCU series will look nice on the resume, but taking two out of three games in Stillwater shows a proven ability to win on the road.
The Cowboys may not be pretty, but Texas Tech is not either. This is the most important series for Texas Tech in April. Take care of business and a little pressure is relieved. Drop the series, and Tech will have to finish April without losing a series.
First pitch Friday is set for 7.
Davis Stole the Show Last Weekend
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