Free steers No. 21 Tech past Oklahoma
Provided by Texas Tech Athletics
NORMAN, Okla. – No. 21 Texas Tech used early scoring and a dominant relief appearance by Ryan Free on Saturday against Oklahoma to secure a 9-5 win at L. Dale Mitchell Park and clinch the series. Free took the ball in the fifth inning and finished the game by retiring 15 straight batters, striking out nine of them and four straight to end the game.
Free entered the game owning a career-long outing of three innings and a career-high four strikeouts as a Red Raider. He needed just 66 pitches to complete five perfect innings while setting a new career-best for strikeouts. Free has not allowed an earned run since March 28 at New Mexico; over the last 10 2/3 innings in appearances against TCU, North Dakota State, Stanford and Oklahoma, the junior southpaw has allowed zero earned runs, just six hits, struck out 14 batters and walked three.
Texas Tech took control of the game starting in the third inning, posting a five on the scoreboard to grab a 5-2 lead after the Sooners scored single runs in the first and second innings. In the fourth inning, the Red Raiders tacked on three more to grow their lead to 8-2.
The five-run inning in the third represented the 10th time this season that the Red Raiders exploded for five runs or better in a single inning. Ten batters went to the plate during the frame as Tech recorded four of its 13 hits in the game. Kevin Bazzell and Austin Green both knocked in a pair while Dylan Maxcey was responsible for an RBI hit as well in the third.
In the fourth, Bazzell hit a two-out double to plate one run while Gavin Kash followed Bazzell’s at-bat with his third home run of the series to push the lead to 8-2. Oklahoma answered Tech’s three-run top of the fourth with three of its own in the home half of the fourth. Red Raiders’ starter Trendan Parish allowed a pair of singles that was followed by a three-run home run. Parish regrouped and struck out two to end the inning, which set up Free to go to work with an 8-5 cushion.
While Tech only produced one run the remainder of the game, a single run in the sixth, advancing the Red Raiders’ lead to 9-5, it was more than enough with Free’s masterpiece performance.
Bazzell led the Red Raiders in hits, finishing 4-of-5. It was his second career game with four or more hits in a game dating back to his career-best performance at New Mexico on March 28 going 5-for-5. Zac Vooletich matched his single-game career-high, recording three hits, by going 3-of-5 on Saturday. Meanwhile, Kash leads the Oklahoma series with a .625 batting average (5-of-8) with three home runs, nine RBI and a 1.750 slugging percentage.
Saturday’s win, which clinched the series, gives Texas Tech three Big 12 series wins out of four competed. The series win also marks three-straight series wins versus Oklahoma in games played in Norman. Tech has won seven of its last eight games played at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
Texas Tech aims for the series sweep against Oklahoma on Sunday; first pitch is at 2 p.m. A win would mark the Red Raiders’ second sweep of OU in Norman in their last three trips. Right-hander Jacob Rogers is slated for the start on Sunday for Texas Tech while southpaw Braden Carmichael is scheduled to take the bump for the Sooners.
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