No. 11 Texas Tech baseball eager for matchup against No. 3 Texas
The bitter taste of a loss is gone.
The No. 11 Texas Tech baseball team claimed a 10-4 midweek victory Wednesday over New Mexico to reset and re-focus before returning to Big 12 Conference play with a top-tier matchup.
The Red Raiders, who put together several good at-bats to the tune of three home runs and nine hits against the Lobos, hope to continue that positive swing when they take on No. 3 Texas at 7 p.m. Thursday in the first of a three-game conference series at UFCU Disch-Falk Field in Austin.
"I think it was very big, you got to have some guys out there swinging the bat," said Texas Tech catcher Braxton Fulford, who went 1-for-4 with three RBI, about the confidence gained from the midweek win. "We got some guys on the mound, they threw well. We got some good at-bats out there.
"Overall, I think it did give us a confidence boost and got us ready to go to UT and play some good baseball."
Texas Tech (28-10, 8-7) will need to put forth its best effort against the Longhorns (34-9, 12-3), who are tied for first in the conference standings with TCU (30-10, 12-3).
Texas has amassed its mark thanks to a pitching rotation that includes all right-handed hurlers: Ty Madden (6-1, 1.68 ERA), Tristan Steven (7-1, 2.74 ERA) and Kolby Kubicheck (5-3, 3.26 ERA).
The UT pitching staff owns the fifth-best ERA nation with a mark of 2.87 — which also leads the conference.
"I tell ya, you're talking about, there's a difference in the type of arms," Tadlock said of facing Baylor's rotation the weekend before the Longhorns. "It's really more what our guys are used to seeing. It's more velocity instead of pitch ability. It's probably arm strength with pitch ability, with Madden, Steven and Kubicheck — all three of those guys and their bullpen arms.
"They're good arms. At the same time, you've gotta keep it simple. I know they've thrown the ball awful well."
The Longhorns have also played well at home, improving to 23-2 after handing a 5-3 loss to UIW on Tuesday night.
The UT offense has been solid, led by Ivan Melendez and Zach Zubia. Melendez has nine home runs and is hitting at a .352 clip with 39 RBI to lead the Longhorns, while Zubia owns a team-leading 40 RBI to go along with six home runs.
With all that in mind, Fulford said he along with the rest of his teammates must keep things simple if they want to be in a position to win against Texas.
"You stick to your approach," Fulford said of facing the Longhorns pitching rotation. "You know, they're still amateurs. You go up there, you see the ball and you hit it. Can't get too much into the analytics I'd say."
Texas Tech counters with lefty Patrick Monteverde (6-2, 3.20 ERA), righty Micah Dallas (1-2, 3.23 ERA) and southpaw Mason Montgomery (2-2, 4.00 ERA).
Monteverde did not have a good outing last weekend against Baylor, yielding seven earned runs — six in the second inning — before he was pulled in the fourth. The Red Raiders lost the series opener 12-4 before dropping two of three to the Bears for the first time in Lubbock since 2010.
Texas Tech coach Tim Tadlock is hopeful his squad learned from last weekend's humbling experience, which included a 13-3 loss to the Bears on Sunday in which the Red Raiders went 0-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
But, one thing is certain, Tadlock knows his squad will prepare to win.
"I don't know how many people have actually beaten the guy on Friday," Tadlock said of Madden when asked about the Texas pitching rotation. "I know we're gonna line it up and try to beat him. I can tell you that. We're going down there to win the game. We're not going down there to say, 'Hey, your pitching's so good.'
"They're going to have to compete with us."
NO. 11 TEXAS TECH VS. NO. 3 TEXAS
When: 7 p.m. Friday, 2:30 p.m. Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: UFCU Disch-Falk Field, Austin
Records: Texas Tech 28-10, 8-7. Texas 34-9, 12-3
Twitter updates: Follow @cmsilvajr
TV: Longhorn Network
Radio: FM 97.3