Texas Tech made program history Sunday when the Red Raiders defeated College of Charleston 1-0 at Rip Griffin Park in Lubbock to advance to the College World Series for the first time.
Tim Tadlock started off his opening statement with a shout out to all Texas Tech fans.
"I'd just like to say 'congratulations' to all the Red Raiders out there. I think everybody out there deserves this. As you could see, the ballpark was packed and we really appreciate everybody coming out and really from near and far, I mean, there's people from all over the place supporting us and we really appreciate them."
For the second consecutive day, Texas Tech shutout the Cougars 1-0 in a best-of-three series. The lone run came in the fourth inning, which Tyler Neslony started off with a single to center field. After Eric Gutierrez struck out, Adam Kirsch was placed into an 0-2 count and fouled off two more pitches. Kirsch launched a line drive over the glove of a leaping Nick Pappas, the first baseman for College of Charleston, and it landed fair into right field. Neslony went sliding head-first across home plate to give the Red Raiders a 1-0 lead. Kirsch would be stranded on second after the RBI double.
Neslony described his emotions after the game.
"Yeah, it's something you dream about as a kid. For this to happen right now, it's unbelievable."
The lone run isn't the only reason Texas Tech won the game. The Red Raider pitching staff tossed its third consecutive shutout Sunday and its fourth shutout in five games. Freshman LHP Dylan Dusek (W, 8-0) threw five-plus innings allowing three hits and one walk. Junior LHP Cameron Smith helped Dusek get out of the fifth inning with two strikeouts and over an inning of work. Dominic Moreno, who the St. Louis Cardinals drafted Saturday, also contributed to shutout before LHP Jonny Drozd (S, 5) closed out the ball game with two innings of work.
Tadlock spoke about the tremendous performance Texas Tech pitching coach Ray Hayward put on in 2014.
"Ray's just a guy that when he's around he makes everybody better," Tadlock said. "I mean we try to take care of these arms and try to develop them and try to put them in a position where they're going to pitch their best this time of year. You have to get everybody some innings to do that, and you have to take some chances along the way. He's willing to do that. If there is a better one out there, I hadn't found him. We haven't found him. I mean, he's just a special person."
Bailey Ober (L, 10-3) allowed one run on six hits in eight innings.
Adding on to the terrific pitching Texas Tech has shown in the NCAA Tournament, the Red Raider pitching staff has received some valuable assistance from their defense. College of Charleston sent up Alex Pastorious as a pinch-hitter to lead off the seventh inning. Pastorious produced a single and advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt. After a groundout, Champ Rowland put a charge into the baseball. The ball went flying towards the gap and the 1-0 lead was sure to be in jeopardy as Pastorious rounded third base. Running full speed from center field, senior outfielder Devon Conley went diving with his glove open. The ball landed in Conley's glove as his body crashed to the ground. Conley made the catch and ended the inning.
College of Charleston head coach Monte Lee tipped his hat to Conley in the press conference.
"Defensively, their centerfielder made maybe one of the best catches I've ever seen. I've been coaching baseball for 14 years and seen a lot of baseball games, and for him to cover that kind of ground. Just a phenomenal play."
Conley gave his own reaction.
"I honestly don't know how I caught it. It was something crazy. It was just kind of in the moment, and I ended up coming out on top for my team."
The victory propels Tech to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska for the first time in program history. This comes one season after the Red Raiders finished 26-30 in Tadlock's first season as head coach. Tech will be joined by seven other teams in hopes of advancing to the national championship series. Texas Tech's first game of the double elimination bracket is set for June 15 against the winner of TCU and Pepperdine.
The Horned Frogs and the Waves have traded 3-2 victories and will play a deciding game three Monday. First pitch in Omaha, Nebraska for the Red Raiders is set for 2 p.m. CDT Sunday.
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