Texas Tech takes finale from OU, earns No. 2 seed in Big 12 baseball tournament

·5 min read

If Saturday was the last home baseball game for Jace Jung, Kurt Wilson and Parker Kelly, they each went out by doing something memorable.

Texas Tech fans gave Cody Masters a warm acknowledgement, too.

Jung, Wilson and Kelly all homered Saturday, helping the sixth-ranked Red Raiders beat Oklahoma 10-2 in the regular-season finale at Dan Law Field/Rip Griffin Park. Unless Tech hosts a regional or a super regional in the NCAA postseason — not out of the question, but not the most likely scenario — it was the last home game of the year.

Wilson, Kelly and Masters are fifth-year seniors. So is leadoff batter Easton Murrell, who reached base four times and scored twice. Jung, though not a senior, is projected to be a high pick in this summer's Major League draft and go pro.

"Those guys have been really good players, are going to continue to be good players and I'm awful proud of them," Tech coach Tim Tadlock said. "Don't kid yourself. You think about it, going to the plate like, 'Hey, this could be my last at-bat in this ballpark.' Pretty neat."

Texas Tech left fielder Easton Murrell celebrates a seventh-inning double in the Red Raiders' 10-2 victory Saturday at Dan Law Field/Rip Griffin Park. Murrell, a senior, reached base four times.
Texas Tech left fielder Easton Murrell celebrates a seventh-inning double in the Red Raiders' 10-2 victory Saturday at Dan Law Field/Rip Griffin Park. Murrell, a senior, reached base four times.

Masters, his senior season almost aborted by a serious illness at the start of the year, was sent up to pinch hit in the eighth inning. Second baseman Jackson Nicklaus made a diving stab on Masters' hard one-hopper and threw him out.

The crowd, some standing, gave Masters an ovation before the at-bat, only his 14th of the season, and again after the groundout.

"Really cool moment," Tadlock said. "We just need to get the second baseman to cooperate. ... Really glad we were able to get him in there. He's meant a lot to our program."

Chase Hampton (5-3) struck out nine batters, his career high, for his second start in a row as Tech salvaged the finale of a three-game series that began with the Red Raiders in position to win the Big 12 regular-season championship with a sweep.

Hot-hitting OU dashed those hopes by winning the first two games. Then the Red Raiders denied the Sooners their chance to earn a share of the conference title in the finale. Tech (36-18, 15-9), OU (33-20, 15-9) and No. 10 Oklahoma State (36-18, 15-9) finished tied for second, one game behind No. 24 TCU (35-18, 16-8).

In the three-way tiebreaker — record among the teams in conference series against each other — the Red Raiders were 4-2, the Sooners 3-3 and the Cowboys 2-4, so they will be seeded in that order for next week's Big 12 tournament in Arlington. No. 2 seed Tech will play No. 7 seed Kansas State (27-27, 8-16) at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Globe Life Field.

Tech, 1-5 in the finales of its first six Big 12 series, won the last game each of the past two weekends with Hampton looking strong. In a 6-4 victory Sunday at Oklahoma State, he allowed one run over five innings. Against the Sooners, he allowed two runs over six.

Just the kind of performances the Red Raiders will need in the postseason.

"I guess it's just having the same mindset and not trying to do too much on the mound," Hampton said. "Just go at guys and attack them early in counts and see where it takes me."

OU scored in the top of the first for the third day in a row. Peyton Graham singled, stole second and third and scored on Tanner Tredaway's two-out single. Tredaway stole second and scored on Jimmy Crooks' base hit.

Hampton and relievers Mason Molina and Austin Becker blanked the Sooners the rest of the way. Hampton struck out five his first time through the Sooners' order and four the second time.

"Awful proud of the way Chase Hampton threw the ball today," Tadlock said. "Obviously, that was a shot in the arm, especially when he goes out and they kind of punch him early. He settles in and really pitches, and I thought that's just what the guys needed."

Texas Tech pitcher Chase Hampton struck out nine, his career high, for the second game in a row to help the Red Raiders beat Oklahoma 10-2 on Saturday. It was the regular-season finale for the Red Raiders.
Texas Tech pitcher Chase Hampton struck out nine, his career high, for the second game in a row to help the Red Raiders beat Oklahoma 10-2 on Saturday. It was the regular-season finale for the Red Raiders.

Tech took the lead with five runs in the bottom of the first. Ty Coleman singled home the first run. With two outs, Hudson White and Kelly came through with a two-run single and a two-run double, respectively.

Jung unloaded a two-run homer in the fourth inning, making the score 8-2 and finishing starter Cade Horton (2-2). Wilson homered to left-center with the bases empty in the sixth, and Kelly homered to left leading off the seventh.

Jung was in a 5-for-29 slump after he struck out in the first. In the second, he got a bloop single to fall in. The next time up, he pulled his 14th homer of the season to right.

In the first two games of the series, the Sooners turned three well-struck balls by Wilson into outs, two on catches at the wall by Tredaway in center field and John Spikerman in right. The other was a sinking liner that Kendall Pettis snagged in left.

This time, Wilson hit one too far for anyone to catch.

An inning later, Murrell came up and doubled, aware it could have been his last at-bat at The Law.

"Who knows how everything plays out," Murrell said, "but it was definitely in the back of my mind. I was happy our team put that one together and everybody played good baseball today, so it was a lot of fun."

TEXAS TECH 10, OKLAHOMA 2

Oklahoma    200    000    000    —    2    9    0    

Texas Tech    500    301    10x    —    10    12    0

Horton, Campbell (4), Godman (6), Calhoun (7), Ramos (8) and Crooks; Hampton, Molina (7), Becker (9) and White. W—Hampton (5-3). L—Horton (2-2). 2B—Oklahoma, Robertson (22), Crooks (15); Texas Tech, Kelly (18), Murrell (8). HR—Texas Tech, Jung (14), Wilson (13), Kelly (10). Records: Oklahoma 33-20, 15-9; Texas Tech 36-18, 15-9.

This article originally appeared on Lubbock Avalanche-Journal: Texas Tech baseball beats OU, earns No. 2 seed in Big 12 tournament