Red Raiders Must Get Back to Business

Texas Tech baseball made history before dropping two in a row on the road. Now the Red Raiders host a struggling Oklahoma squad this weekend in a Big 12 series clash.

Texas Tech made history Saturday
with home victory number 1,000. A memorable game it was as the Red Raiders run-ruled Prairie View A&M 13-0. The milestone may have come at the best time as the win marker did not feature the pressure of conference play.

As nice of a milestone as it was, the Red Raiders must get back to business. After back-to-back losses away from the friendly confines, Texas Tech knows it is still not the best team in the country. It is assumed the Red Raiders expect to make a College World Series appearance, but how many people outside the program expect it. Not many. If you told an "expert" Tech would host a regional, they probably would have laughed in your face.

This week, College Baseball Daily projected Texas Tech to host a regional. The projection comes after a 4-3 road loss to New Mexico, so experts are starting to give Tim Tadlock's squad some credit.

However, as I stated earlier this season. Texas Tech must win every series in April to make a regional appearance. The scarlet and black has done its job up until this moment. Now Tech is about to play its final series of the month. Yes, Texas Tech swept Kansas State in a must-win series. The Wildcats are in last place though with a mediocre non-conference showing. The team from the Little Apple still has yet to play Oklahoma State and Texas. Expect a few more losses to be handed down to the purple squad.

Possibly the best win in the month of April is a 6-3 victory in Midland over the New Mexico Lobos. Dallas Baptist is a solid team, but it was at the friendly confines of Rip Griffin Park, where the Red Raiders are 25-4. Tech needed another neutral site victory after going 1-2 in Houston. The Midland win made the TCU game in Abilene less important. The Lobos currently sit atop the Mountain West standings and hold over 30 victories.

The player of the week is you. The fans deserve the honors after Texas Tech acquired 1,000 home victories. The win percentage is even more impressive than the amount of victories. Texas Tech is 1,000-469 in Lubbock. Particularly this season, you, the fans have done a tremendous job with home-field advantage. Tech is 25-4 at the friendly confines of Rip Griffin Park. Kudos also go the Red Raider faithful for showing up in Midland, Houston and Fort Worth this season. Texas Tech fans are currently ranked 19 in attendance and a big reason the Red Raiders are that low is because SEC schools beef up their stadiums with seats behind the outfield walls and are expanded with upper decks behind home plate. As for the other schools, the majority of them have made recent College World Series appearances or in the case of Louisiana-Lafayette, are a school where baseball is numero uno.

I'll give the Tech Hecklers my pitcher of the week award. If you've ever been to a Texas Tech baseball game, you've probably seen the rubber chicken on the back-stop in front of where this group sits. These fans love getting inside of the other team. Going to games prior to becoming a journalist, I used to listen to their attempts at making on-deck hitters turn around, thus being named "rabbit ears". Why pitcher of the week? These fans can get inside of a batter's head before he ever steps to the plate. As a former Saddle Tramp who would try to snag foul balls in front of the 2009 Tech bullpen, players would laugh and talk about something funny they may have heard out of the Tech Heckler section. Here is a tip of the cap from me to you, the fans.

The Red Raiders must get back to business this week. A struggling Oklahoma team comes to Lubbock in yet another must-win series. I will reiterate. Texas Tech has not been to a regional in a decade. The Red Raiders must kick down and bust open the door to a regional. It is still April and the last thing Tech needs is to take it easy down the stretch, lose to a couple of teams on the outside looking in and be left out. A great example from basketball is SMU. The Mustangs beat the eventual National Champions twice, but a loss to Houston early in the conference tournament knocked the NIT runner-ups out of their first NCAA bid since 1993. The Red Raiders must take care of business now.

Texas Tech is not just fighting to end its regional drought though. The Red Raiders are Big 12 Conference contenders. Do not get your eyes checked. There is no need to adjust your screen. Texas Tech is in the hunt for the Big 12 Conference Regular Season Championship. It's not an easy task and there are four early games that really hurt Tech's chances, but the opportunity is present. The top two teams play each other this weekend. Oklahoma State travels to Austin where the second place Longhorns are hoping to take out frustration against the conference leaders. The Red Raiders hold the 2-1 advantage over TCU. It's not out of the question, but Tech must sweep the Sooners and the Mountaineers to win the crown.

The Red Raiders have announced the probable starter for all three games this weekend. Lubbock Cooper product RHP Ryan Moseley (1-1, 2.30 ERA) is currently the man for Friday night. The freshman won his only start thus far with the win coming against Prairie View A&M. Moseley is slated to face redshirt sophomore LHP Adam Choplick (3-2, 4.05 ERA), who was bumped up from his normal Saturday spot. The only win against the Mountaineers for Oklahoma last weekend came with Choplick on the mound. It is safe to say the day off for Easter contributed to the move.

LHP Chris Sadberry (3-1, 2.47 ERA) gets the Saturday nod. He looks to face LHP Jacob Evans (3-2, 3.89 ERA). The Red Raiders have acquired victories in each of the last five Saturday games. The last time Tech lost a Sadberry start was Sunday, April 6 at Oklahoma State. Sadberry left the game with a 2-0 lead. The Sooners have lost in each of Evans two conference starts.

Freshman Dylan Dusek (5-0, 2.31 ERA) is currently scheduled to start Sunday. His opponent has yet to be named, but noticeably missing from the Sooners rotation is normal Friday night ace Corey Copping (0-1, 4.86 ERA). Copping surrendered six runs in each of his last two starts. He did not allow an earned run in the first of those two as six runs came in after an error.

Oklahoma has dropped six of its last seven conference games. The Sooners are 3-3 in true road games and also have a victory at Globe Life Park against UT Arlington.

Oklahoma knows how to score runs as they average more than four per conference game, but have a knack for grounding into double plays. The Sooners have hit into 18 double plays while racking up just six themselves. Compared to the Sooners 12 games, the Red Raiders have grounded into 14 double plays in 15 games.

First pitch is set for 6:37 p.m. Friday under the lights of Rip Griffin Park.

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