Texas Tech's season ends in NCAA regional final

No. 24 Texas Tech had its highs and its lows on Sunday as it celebrated its second win in the Statesboro Regional and saw its season come to an end, all on the same day at J.I. Clements Stadium. The Red Raiders were eliminated by No. 17 Notre Dame, falling 2-1 in the evening's regional final after defeating No. 21 Georgia Southern 3-1 earlier in the day. 

It was pitching that ruled the games for the third day in a row at the regional. In the four regional games that Tech went 2-2 in, three runs were the most scored by either side in the four contests. Tech scored a combined eight runs in four regional games and allowed six runs to its opponents over the same span.

June 3: L, 3-2 vs. No. 17 Notre Dame
June 4: W, 2-0 vs. UNC Greensboro
June 5: W, 3-1 vs. No. 21 Georgia Southern
June 5: L, 2-1 vs. No. 17 Notre Dame

Tech did not score through the first seven innings in three of the four regional games, including both games against Notre Dame. On Sunday, the Red Raiders rallied in the eighth inning as it had throughout the weekend, cutting the lead in half, 2-1, against the Irish. Tech scored five of its eight runs in the regional in the eighth inning.

Easton Murrell hit a one-out double and advanced to third on a wild pitch after the second out was recorded on a Cole Stilwell ground out. With a hitter's count, Jace Jung ripped a hard-hit ball to right field that was kept in play by the J.I. Clements Stadium 24-foot-high right field wall known locally as the "Blue Monster." The ball bounced off the wall back to the Irish right-fielder to hold Jung to a single while Murrell trotted home to score (watch).

Ty Coleman kept his regional hot streak going, knocking a single while Kurt Wilson drew a walk to load the bases and threaten to tie the game. Hitting with runners in scoring position was a problem throughout all four games and appeared again as Owen Washburn went down swinging leaving three on-base.

In the ninth, Parker Kelly hit a one-out single to start the Red Raiders' next rally. Cooper Swanson worked a walk to push the tying run into scoring position. Murrell flew out next, but advanced Kelly to third while next in line was Stilwell who faced an 0-2 count and took a ball and then fought off three-straight pitches into foul balls before being hit by a pitch to load the bases. With the bases loaded for the second consecutive inning, Jung grounded out to first base to end the threat and the game. Tech finished Sunday night's game against the Irish 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and 3-for-30 over the four regional games.

Tech's bullpen worked masterfully to hold Notre Dame to two runs. Jamie Hitt was called upon for the game-four start while Brandon Beckel, Josh Sanders, Garrett Crowley and Andrew Devine supported him. The unit that did not see an individual throw more than three innings, and held the Irish to scattering nine hits while striking out nine and walking three. The group produced an out against the leadoff batter in all nine innings and limited Notre Dame to hitting 2-for-10 with runners in scoring position. The bullpen went toe-to-toe with Notre Dame's first-team All-ACC regular Friday night starter John Michael Bertrand who lasted seven and 2/3 innings.

Andrew Morris lifted the Red Raiders to their afternoon win against Georgia Southern. Similar to Bertrand being available for Notre Dame in the evening game, Morris saw his second opportunity to pitch in the regional after being shut down after the near six-hour weather delay during his initial start in Friday's opener. Morris tossed six innings before Austin Becker and Mason Molina closed the door on the game. The one run allowed by Tech was not earned as Georgia Southern scratched across a run off an infield hit fielded by the pitcher in the top of the third. With runners on first and second, the wide throw to first allowed the runner on second to come home and give the Eagles a 1-0 lead.

Tech's offense exploded in the fourth for three runs and three hits. The first six at-bats were all productive at-bats. Led by two hits to lead off the inning by Stilwell and Jung, it put pressure on Georgia Southern for the first time and produced back-to-back walks drawn by Coleman and Wilson. With nowhere to put a runner, Wilson's was an RBI that tied the game 1-1, scoring Stilwell. Washburn connected for a sacrifice fly to center field to score Jung and his freshman counterpart Hudson White singled (watch) next to score Coleman and put the Red Raiders in front 3-1 in the bottom of the fourth. That score held throughout the remainder of the game.

At the conclusion of the evening, the Statesboro All-Regional team was named. Earning spots on the team from Texas Tech was first baseman Stilwell, second baseman Jung and outfielder Murrell.

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