LUBBOCK, Texas – The No. 3 Texas Tech baseball team faces its first ranked test of the year, hosting No. 11 South Alabama for a four-game series on March 2-4 at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park.
The Red Raiders (9-0) and the Jaguars (7-2) will begin the set on Friday, March 2, at 6:30 p.m. Saturday is a doubleheader, beginning at noon, with the second game following approximately 30-45 minutes after the conclusion of game one, then Sunday wraps the series with a 1 p.m. first pitch.
Friday’s contest will be the first televised contest of the year for Tech, broadcasting on FOX Sports Southwest Plus. The other three games will stream live on TexasTech.TV with a paid subscription. Friday & Sunday’s games can be heard on the Texas Tech Sports Network on 97.3 FM, the TuneIn app & the 97.3 app. The Saturday doubleheader will air on 100.7 FM & the 100.7 app, with live stats available all four games at Sidearmstats.com/texastech/baseball/.
This year’s series with South Alabama has been named the ninth-annual Brooks Wallace Memorial Series. The set is named after former Red Raider student-athlete and assistant coach Brooks Wallace, who died at the age of 27 on March 24, 1985, after a bout with leukemia.Wallace played at Tech from 1997-80 while earning All-SWC honors and All-District VI recognition. He was twice selected in the MLB Draft by the Texas Rangers (21st Round) in 1980 and also by the New York Mets following his junior season at Tech in 1979. He served as a graduate assistant coach under Kal Segrist in 1983 and as an assistant coach under Gary Ashby in 1984-85. He is one of four Red Raiders to have their jersey number retired (#22).
When the two teams take the field on Friday, they’ll make history, as they’ll be meeting on the baseball field for the first time in the two program’s histories. Overall, Tech is 36-16 against members of the Sun Belt conference.
February went almost as well as it could have for the Red Raiders, as Tech put together a 9-0 record to start the year, the best record to begin a season since 1996. The Red Raiders opened the year with a four-game sweep of Maine in Lubbock, racking up 48 runs on 49 hits in the series. Tech followed it with three-straight shutouts of New Mexico State and the first two games of the road swing at UTSA. The Red Raiders polished off the month with a 10-6 win in game three to sweep the Roadrunners, then a 3-1 battle with UTRGV the next day to cap the South Texas road trip.
The three-shutout week was the first stretch of the kind since the 2014 Tech team accomplished the feat to punch the program’s first ticket to the College World Series. That squad defeated Miami, 4-0, in the final game of the Coral Gables Regional , then posted back-to-back 1-0 wins over College of Charleston in the first-ever Lubbock Super Regional to advance to Omaha.
This year’s shutout period was part of a 37.0 inning scoreless streak put together by the Texas Tech pitching staff & defense. Twelve different Red Raider pitchers made appearances during the longest scoreless streak in school history, combining for 14 hits, 11 walks and 33 strikeouts. The Red Raiders would allow runs in each of the last two games of the road trip, but finished the swing with a 15-strikeout, no-walk day against UTRGV. It was the third time in 2018 Tech did not issue a walk, also doing so in both shutouts at UTSA.
The Jaguars enter the weekend with a 7-2 record, playing in their first true road series of the year in Lubbock. South Alabama opened the year at the Baseball at the Beach tournament, defeating Big 12 foes Kansas State & Oklahoma, as well as Virginia Tech, before dropping the tourney finale against Indiana. Their last five games of the month came at home, putting together a win over ranked Southern Miss, as well as a three-game sweep of Hartford, before falling to Auburn on Tuesday.
South Alabama head to Lubbock hitting .288 as a team, with Michael Sandle leading the way with a .406 clip with 13 hits, 12 RBI and nine runs. Dylan Hardy leads the team with 16 hits, while Wells Davis has driven in the most RBI with 13. Unanimous preseason First Team All-American Travis Swaggerty follows closely with a .367 average, 11 hits, three doubles and three homers, nine RBI and 10 runs scored.
The Jags will send senior RHP Tyler Carr to the mound on Friday, followed by junior righty Zach Greene in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader and junior righty Zach Greene in the second game. Sunday’s starter is TBA. Carr & Greene both head to Lubbock with 1-0 records & sub-2.00 ERA’s, as Carr has a 1.50 clip over 12.0 innings of work & Greene sits with a 1.04 ERA over 8.2 innings pitched. South Alabama has a combined 3.56 ERA entering the weekend, holding opponents to a .247 batting average.
Tech will send out junior right-hander Davis Martin, sophomore righty John McMillon & senior lefty Dylan Dusek to pitch the first three games of the series. Martin & McMillon have both put together 2-0 records with 0.90 & 0.82 ERA’s, respectively, while Dusek picked up a victory over Maine after going 2.2 innings in relief on Feb. 17. Sunday is TBD.
The Tech bats have put together a .312 collective average over the first nine games of the year. Five Red Raider starters are hitting over the team clip heading into the series with South Alabama, with sophomore outfielder Grant Little leading the way with a .455 average, featuring 15 hits, 11 RBI and 13 runs. Freshman & sophomore infielders Gabe Holt (.444) & Josh Jung (.405) follow closely with 16 & 15 hits, respectively, while Jung leads the team in RBI with 12.
The six polls kept the Red Raiders in their same spots for the most part, staying at No. 3 from three publications. Tech moved up one spot to No. 4 in Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s latest rankings, while South Alabama continued their rise in the rankings after their perfect weekend. The Jags are slotted as high as No. 11 in the CB Newspaper poll, with various top-25 rankings scattered throughout four of the other five polls this week.
After this weekend’s series with the Jaguars, the Red Raiders wrap their five-game home stand against New Mexico on March 7, at 2 p.m., at Dan Law Field at Rip Griffin Park.