Baseball: Horns Down Tech In Tourney Opener

Texas Tech started off last year's Big 12 Tournament by upsetting the No. 1 seed. The Red Raiders would have no such luck today. Texas shut out the Raiders, 4-0, to begin conference tournament play with a 'W' and move within one win of the 40-win plateau.

Texas (39-18) got three of its four runs in the bottom of the third and then shut Texas Tech (31-24-1) down the rest of the way for the shutout victory. Longhorn starter Kenn Kasparek (4-2) earned the win, giving up five hits and no runs in his six innings of work. Randy Boone and Austin Wood sealed the shutout with three innings of hitless relief. The three Texas pitchers combined for four three-up three-down innings.

"I wasn't trying to do anything fancy," said Kasparek after the game, "I just let them get themselves out."

Longhorns Head Coach Augie Garrido was very impressed with the sophomore right-hander's performance.

"Kasparek was the story for us," said Garrido. "He pitched much the same today as he did in this situation last year."

Miles Morgan (6-7), who beat Texas in Lubbock back in March, took the loss for Tech. The Red Raiders starter gave up four earned runs on five hits in six innings of work.

"We didn't adjust well," said Texas Tech Head Coach Larry Hays. "Miles (Morgan) didn't have his best. Despite his struggling, we could have still won if we would have taken care of business."

Texas plated all the runs it would need in the bottom of the third. The frame started with a pair of groundouts by Preston Clark and Chais Fuller. Then the Longhorns got the runs going with two outs on the board, as they often have this season. Hunter Harris tripled to left center and then Nick Peoples put runners on the corner by taking a pitch off the side of his helmet. When center fielder Drew Stubbs hit a grounder, it looked like the Horns were going to come away from the inning with nothing. But the ball bounced off of the hand of Tech pitcher Morgan, allowing Harris to score. Chance Wheeless followed with an RBI single up the middle, bringing home Peoples. Wheeless was caught trying to steal, but during the rundown, Stubbs made it home before Wheeless was tagged for the third out, giving Texas a 3-0 lead.

The Longhorns other run came in the bottom of the fifth, although it had the potential to be a much bigger inning. With Peoples, Harris and Fuller all on base and no outs, Texas Tech looked to be in a big jam. A Stubbs double play grounder scored Fuller before Wheeless flied out to end the inning with the Horns scoring the one insurance run. It wasn't needed as Texas Tech was unable to garner any runs down the stretch.

Under the tourney's new format, every team in the eight-team field will play three games in a round robin, four-team group format, with the winner of each group advancing on to Sunday's final. Texas plays No. 5 seed Baylor on Thursday at 5 p.m. and No. 4 seed Nebraska on Saturday at 1 p.m. The Horns swept the Bears in mid-April, and lost two of three to the Huskers later that month. No. 2 seed Oklahoma State, No. 3 seed Oklahoma, No. 6 seed Kansas and No. 7 seed Missouri make up the other group. The winner of each group will square off in the championship game on Sunday.

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