2015 season was a roller coaster for Texas Tech baseball and after getting knocked out of the Big 12 Tournament the season has come to an end. Here is a wrap up of the highs and lows.
Texas Tech Falls Short
We will start with the bad news first. Texas Tech’s only hope to get into the NCAA Tournament was to win the Big 12 Tournament for an automatic bid. After losing the opener to Texas, the Red Raiders came back and knocked out top-seeded TCU, which seemed promising. Although their hopes were crushed when they eventually lost to Baylor in an elimination game.
Texas shockingly swept their way to the top and won the Big 12 Tournament and will make there way to the postseason with No. 7 TCU and Oklahoma State.
Now that is out of the way, lets recap the regular season, prior to Tulsa.
Run at the Start
All of Lubbock was buzzing when the Texas Tech baseball season started. The Red Raiders were coming off an appearance in the College World Series and ranked ninth by Collegiate Baseball before entering the 2015 season. And while the opening series seems like along time ago, the Red Raiders had good stuff to show. They swept both San Francisco and Northern Illinois in the first two series of the season.
The Big Wins
After the small run at the beginning of the season, there were many ups and downs that followed.
Texas Tech won their conference opener in Norman against Oklahoma. Although they dropped that series to the Sooners they came back and won the series against Kansas in Lubbock.
The next weekend they took the second game of the series against No. 2 TCU after a complete game gem by Cameron Smith. There were a total of 3,974 fans at Dan Law Field for that one; it was easily one of the best home games of the season. The Horned Frogs came out on top winning the rubbermatch that followed.
Although the sweep of Baylor was impressive, it was expected of the team who desperately needed it after dropping so many weekday games throughout the season.
The next biggest win was in Austin to end conference play. After dropping the first game, the Red Raiders came back and won the next two. That series included another complete game gem from Cameron Smith on Saturday and a whole lot of offense from guys like Cory Raley, Eric Gutierrez and Bryant Burleson.
Senior Pitching Staff
If you ask anyone related to Texas Tech baseball in someway they will tell you the strength of this team was the arms. They will then say without a doubt best arms were the seniors Dominic Morneno, Cameron Smith, and Corey Taylor.
Senior righty Dom Morneo has done anything this team needs. He has started 18 games in his two-year stint as a Red Raider and pitched 16 in relief has a total of three saves combined on four shut outs. This season he had 24 appearances and ended with a 1.85 ERA in the 58.1 innings he pitched.
The next guy, the Saturday starter for Texas Tech, Cameron Smith will go out proud of what he’s accomplished this season. As mentioned earlier, he had two complete game gems against No. TCU and Texas. He went 6-5 in his 16 appearances with a 2.83 ERA. Another highlight of his career was a complete game against Miami in the NCAA Tournament last season. He will depart with a career 2.81 ERA in his 39 appearances in Red and Black.
Taylor deserves his own piece of this wrap up. After leading the nation with a 0.31 ERA, he was easily the best arm on the Texas Tech pitching staff and arguably the best player on the team.
“The Big Cat” as he is called had a heck of a season and went 4-0 in his 19 appearances this season. He recently got one of those wins as a starter against TCU in the Big 12 Tournament, where he pitched a total of five shutout innings against the top team in the conference and No. 2 team in the nation.
He only allowed 13 walks this season. He didn’t allow many hits either, trusted his defense to play behind him and Texas Tech allowed a total of five runs, two earned with him on the mound.
As expected, first baseman Eric Gutierrez, outfielders Tyler Neslony and Stephen Smith were a huge part of this offense. They all had their highs and lows throughout the season but overall lead the team at the plate.
Eric Gutierrez and Tyler Neslony are the only two players who made it in the lineup every single game this season. They ended 2015 with .315 and .286 batting averages, respectively. A highlight for this duo was against Sacramento State. Cory Raley was at second in the bottom of the ninth Texas Tech trailing by one. The Hornets intentionally walked Gutierrez and Neslony made them quickly regret that as he hit a walk-off single to win the game.
In addition to that duo, Stephen Smith held the third best average at .291 this season. He hit 10 home runs, which was the second most in the conference behind West Virginia’s Taylor Munden with 11. He also showed incredible discipline at the plate by walking 41 times.
With all three of those guys possibly returning next season the Red Raiders offense could be dangerous.
Newcomers Show Up
Texas Tech had 17 newcomers going into the season, 11 of those which were JUCO transfers, many of those which made their way into the starting lineup. Most notably Cory Raley started 43 of 45 games and leads the team with a .350 batting average and hangs with the three above for top producing on offense.
Raley belted 64 hits, drove in 21 runs and scored 29 times, with a slugger percentage of .486 and on base percentage of .408.
The most promising thing for Texas Tech moving forward is the amount of freshmen who stepped up over the course of the season. Third baseman Orlando Garcia and infielder Michael Davis were keys. They had good offense for experiencing collegiate pitching for the first time with .259 and .252 batting averages respectively.
Those two guys were also a big part of the defense and challenged the seniors for the spot in the lineup. Garcia finished with a total of 80 assists on offense, hardly any errors on the season and ended with a fielding percentage of .964.
Texas Tech Baseball Season Wrap
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