LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech’s potent offensive lineup flexed its muscles in the 2021 Lubbock Regional opener against Army Friday morning.
The Red Raiders belted three home runs — two of which came from Cal Conley — in a 6-3 win.
Conley’s first bomb was a two-run job in the third inning that gave Texas Tech its first lead. Braxton Fulford followed that with his own two-run shot in the fourth and Conley sent another one over the right field wall in the fifth.
That was the Red Raiders’ sixth and final run of the day, but it proved to be all they needed. Their pitching held Army to one run in the game’s final six innings to nail down the win.
The Black Knights feature far less offensive firepower than Texas Tech, and attempted to compensate for that with small ball.
Clean-up hitter Tim Simoes laid down a drag bunt single to get a run home from third with two outs in the first inning. In the third inning, center fielder Hunter Meade stole second and third base and scored on a Braxton Fulford throwing error.
“It’s not everyday you see a four-hole guy dragging with two outs,” Tim Tadlock said after the game.
That put Army ahead 2-1, but its lineup was not able to do much else against Red Raider starting pitcher Chase Hampton.
The freshman kept the Black Knights off the board from the fourth inning to the end of his day in the sixth. His fastball got up to 95 miles-per-hour, and he finished the game with seven strikeouts in six innings of two-run ball.
“I felt like my 2-seam and my slider were a good mix today,” Hampton said. “I left some across the plate with the 2-seam but the slider was really good.”
The Red Raiders hit their barrage of home runs in the middle innings to go ahead 6-2.
Army nearly scored in the fifth inning when a Meade single went under right fielder Easton Murrell’s glove. Meade attempted to score on the play but Murrell picked up the ball in front of the warning track and started a flawless relay to cut him down at the plate.
Veteran reliever Connor Queen relieved Hampton and allowed one run seventh and eighth innings. Micah Dallas, who spent most of the season in the starting rotation, came on for the save.
“We just felt like going into this postseason that we were at our best when he was down there in the bullpen,” Tadlock said of Dallas. “Just felt like to have the ability to run the table here we need him down there.”
Tech third baseman Parker Kelly contributed to the win with his glove and his bat. He dove to snag a ground ball in the fourth inning, tapped third base for a force-out and fired to first for a double play. He was also responsible for the first Red Raider run of the day, driving in Murrell in the second inning on a ground-rule double.
Kurt Wilson returned to the Red Raiders lineup for the first time since he injured his thumb on April 11 against TCU. He started in center field and delivered a 1-for-4 from the eighth spot in the order.
The win placed Texas Tech in the winner’s side of the bracket. Their next game will be Saturday at 8:00 p.m. against the winner of North Carolina and UCLA.