HOUSTON — Texas Tech catcher Braxton Fulford is known more for his glove than his bat, but he won the No. 10 Red Raiders their game against Texas State Friday at the plate.
Bobcat starter Zachary Leigh had gone four straight innings without giving up a run, and was one out away from making it five when Fulford struck, launching a fastball off of Minute Maid Park’s exterior wall in left field for a go-ahead, two-run blast in the seventh inning.
An inning later, Fulford drilled a line drive into the left field “Crawford Boxes” for his second two-run shot of the game.
The Red Raiders went on to win the game 8-4, improving to 6-3 on the season. It was their sixth straight victory after they lost their first three games of the season to top-10 ranked SEC teams in the State Farm College Showdown.
Friday’s game was the first of three that Texas Tech will play at the Houston Astros’ home park in the Shriners College Classic. TTU plays Sam Houston State Saturday and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi Sunday.
The game looked precarious for the Red Raiders before Fulford, a Monterey High School product, put them ahead with his home run.
Cody Masters cranked a three-run homer off the right field foul pole in the second inning, but Leigh cruised after that. He struck out eight hitters, and set down 10 straight until Jace Jung led off the bottom of the sixth with a single.
The Bobcats hit two home runs off of Texas Tech starting pitcher Brandon Birdsell, and the game was tied 3-3 when he exited in the fifth inning.
Andrew Devine relieved him, and wiggled out of a bases loaded jam to keep the score tied in the fifth. The Bobcats loaded the bases again in the sixth, and this time they scored the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly.
TTU reliever Hayde Key threw three dominant innings to close the game, retiring nine of the 10 hitters he faced and striking out five. Fulford’s seventh inning homer made him the winning pitcher.
Fulford finished the game with three hits — two home runs and a double — two runs and four RBIs. Nate Rombach is typically Texas Tech’s power bat behind the plate, but Fulford showed Friday that he packs plenty of pop himself.