10. Texas Tech 18 Dallas Baptist 3
This would not have made the list in normal circumstances. The Red Raiders have been on both sides of blowouts before and they were on the winning side of this one. This complete domination is a big moment because Texas Tech had just been swept by a Kansas team picked to finish last in the coaches poll. It was a sigh of relief. Without this victory, Tech does not win 40 games. In fact, this was the start of a four-game win streak to end the season. It included the first grand slam of Eric Gutierrez collegiate career.
9. End of the Rice Drought
There are no ifs, ands, or buts about this moment. We all hate it when drought-ending victories make a top ten list. This is about more than just ending the 18-year drought against Tech’s former Southwest Conference foe. Tim Tadlock’s squad was about to lay a goose egg in the Houston College Classic. After being humiliated by Houston and upset by Sam Houston State, Texas Tech needed something to salvage the weekend. By season’s end, we figured out the road victory against Stephen F. Austin had little value. This win not only salvaged the weekend, but it was an amazing addition to the NCAA resume. Rice ended up being a host and the Red Raiders used the confidence to place together a nice winning streak to end the pre-conference season.
8. NCAA Selection Show
Again, we have another drought-ending moment. It’s necessary though. Texas Tech finally made it. For the first time in a full decade, “Texas Tech” was announced on the NCAA Selection Show. They silenced the critics and disappointed the doubters. This comes in Tim Tadlock’s second season as head coach. His first season produced a losing record.
7. Tadlock Sticks Up For Gutierrez
Eric Gutierrez did not deserve it. He had done wrong. After Miami (FL) infielder David Thompson collided with Gutierrez at first base on an innin-ending groundout, Gutierrez took exception and dropped the baseball right into Thompson’s lap. The sophomore slugger was immediately ejected from the game and deservedly got an ear full for his rude gesture. However, who he got the ear full from was worse than what Gutierrez did. Miami (FL) first base coach Gino DeMare started ripping into Gutierrez, a bush league move by an opposing coach. Tim Tadlock saw DeMare jawing at Gutierrez and sprinted out to the Hurricanes assistant. The Texas Tech skipper placed his faces within inches of DeMare’s and stuck up for his player. This shows Tadlock treats this team as his family and is not going to let other teams disrespect his players.
6. Zach Davis Steals Home Plate
Down to their final strike, Texas Tech needed one run to tie up the ballgame in the rubber match against Texas. Fans were on the edge of their seats in hopes of a base hit. Tim Tadlock had a different idea. The manager, who is also the third base coach of the Red Raiders, did the unthinkable. Tadlock told Zach Davis to steal home. This is a move even the fastest players question sometimes. Davis got a tremendous jump, dashed down the baseline and crossed home plate safely. The Red Raiders eventually lost, which explains why this dropped down to number six. Let’s admit it though. This moment is going to be on Texas Tech baseball highlight reels for years to come.
5. Opening Weekend
Next year came. Baseball was back and there was a new hope. Outside the team, no one expected Texas Tech to make it to the College World Series. Most were hoping just to be competitive and perhaps stay on the bubble for a regional berth. The Red Raiders hosted a top-five team, Indiana, who returned many players from a College World Series team. After game one, it seemed as if Texas Tech would repeat the 2013 season. A 1-0 loss sent sirens around Lubbock screaming no offense again. Those sirens were silenced the next day. Tyler Neslony blasted a grand slam and the Red Raiders dominated a doubleheader against the Hoosiers. Tech would follow up Sunday with another victory. Tech outscored Indiana 23-8 during the weekend. It was a great start to a 40-win season and the first College World Series appearance in program history.
4. Cameron Smith’s Complete Game Shutout
Texas Tech just lost a game in which the Miami Hurricanes used every advantage in the book to squeak by the Red Raiders and force a game two. The Hurricanes had the momentum, but nobody told junior LHP Cameron Smith. The transfer out of New Mexico Junior college dominated the Hurricane offense and tossed an absolute gem. It took seven innings for his offense to scrounge up run support, but Smith kept dealing. He allowed three hits and five walks, but never allowed a run. Smith was absolute ice and almost single-handedly carried his worn out teammates to a 3-0 victory, earning the program’s first trip to the NCAA Super Regionals.
3. The Catch
Cry foul if you want. You will see why this moment is number three. It will be etched into Texas Tech history forever. It’s the kind of play that in 20 years, new students will see everywhere and need a story to understand its significance. During game two of the Super Regionals, the Red Raiders held a 1-0 lead in the seventh inning. With two outs and two strikes, College of Charleston’s Alex Pastorious was sure to be running on contact. Pastorious rounded third as a fly ball was hit to right-centerfield. Texas Tech center fielder Devon Conley was not in position. This was sure to fall down. The Cougars were finally going to break through and tie up the game. As the ball was dropping, Conley made a diving leap. The ball fell down. Right fielder Stephen Smith held his hands up in celebration. Conley caught the ball. The inning was over and College of Charleston never scored. We’ll talk more about as you scroll on down.
2. Eric Gutierrez College Home Run Derby Performance
It’s no secret Eric Gutierrez can put a jolt into a baseball. Gutierrez hit more home runs (12) in the Big 12 Conference than any other player this season. Quite simply, he’s a slugger. What he did during the College Home Run Derby though is straight up ridiculous. Gutierrez smacked 51 baseballs over the walls of a deep pitcher’s park in TD Ameritrade Park at Omaha, Nebraska. This is not just a record at the college ranks, but a world record. Granted the rules in college are a little different than Major League Baseball’s Home Run Derby. He still had to hit it over the wall all 51 times. Unfortunately, Gutierrez would be beaten in the finals. Although an impressive 18 home run display in the finals, it did not match the 25 homers of Tres Barrera out of the Texas Longhorns. Still, it’s an impressive display and nothing can take those 51 home runs away from Gutierrez.
1. Final Out of Lubbock Super Regional
It’s not flashy. A routine ground ball to second base is not something people remember. The celebration which came after Bryant Burleson picked up the grounder and tossed the ball to Eric Gutierrez for the final out is what will live on forever. Texas Tech dogpiled on the turf of Dan Law Field just behind the pitcher’s mound. The team received a standing ovation in what was probably the most off-key, loudest Matador Song Rip Griffin Park has ever heard. It’s all okay though. No one cared how bad anyone’s voice sounded that day, because the Red Raiders earned their first trip to the College World Series in Omaha. It was a glorious moment that many will never forget. They just hope there are more to come sooner rather than later.
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