Game 1: Texas Tech 3 – UH 2
Andrew Lantrip was masterful throughout most of the contest for the University of Houston, but a couple of mistakes did him in Friday afternoon.
The Red Raiders got a home run from Stephen Smith in the fourth, and two in the sixth off of Lantrip and UH reliever Aaron Fletcher to seal the game 3-2.
“I was looking for my pitch,” said Smith about his home run. “When I got it, I put a good swing on it. (Lantrip) is a really good pitcher. He attacked the zone with strikes. You just had to get a pitch in the zone you could hit.”
The Cougars got on the board in the opening frame as Connor Hollis came across on a two-out RBI double by freshman first baseman Joe Davis. That would be the only run Houston’s potent offense would get, as the Texas Tech pitching staff was able to bend without breaking all afternoon. Red Raiders starter Ryan Moseley pitched five innings and gave up just the lone run on three hits and he struck out three. Moseley had his fastball sitting anywhere from 91-94 with a good breaking ball.
“(Moseley) is probably pretty frustrating,” said Texas Tech head coach Tim Tadlock. “He’s got that thing coming in there, and you know he’s throwing it. It’s sinking and if you don’t have the right idea about what to do with it, you’re just not going to hit it.”
Houston did scratch a run across in the eighth on a SAC fly by Joe Davis and threatened for more, but TTU reliever Hayden Howard shut the door to get the win.
“I was just throwing strikes and letting my defense play behind me,” Howard said. “I had the confidence to go out there and throw it over the plate. I knew my defense would be there to make the play. It all comes down to throwing strikes, getting ahead, and trusting your stuff.”
For Houston, freshman infielder Joe Davis continued to impress. Though he was only 1-4 on the day, he had both of the UH RBIs in the game.
Game 2: Texas Christian 7 – Louisiana 1
A four run fifth inning was the difference for TCU in a Top-15 matchup Friday afternoon. Dane Steinhagen led off with a double into the right-center-field gap and was the first of the four to come across.
Louisiana scored first, in the third inning, when leadoff hitter Joe Robbins tripled to right field and infielder Brenn Conrad followed up with a base hit of his own: a single that just got past Connor Wanhanen at first base. It looked early on like Louisiana would be able to take advantage of some fielding mishaps by the Horned Frogs, but Brian Howard made the critical pitches when it mattered.
As good as the offense was on the day, the story of the game was the pitching staff of TCU. Brian Howard gave up five hits, but only the single run while striking out seven and walking one.
“He had to make pitches early on,” TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle said of his starter. “He held the velocity that he normally throws at, 90-91, and had his cutter going with an overhand breaking ball just to keep them off-balance a little bit.”
In the top of the ninth, outfielder Dane Steinhagen put an exclamation point on the game with a home run into deep left field that hit the yellow line to make it 7-1 Frogs.
ULL starter Gunner Leger has never been a power lefty, but got some good swings and misses early on in the game. The sophomore pitched 4.2 innings and gave up just two earned runs (five total) with no walks and four strikeouts.
“(Leger) was mixing the fastball and changeup against me,” said Steinhagen. “Staying mostly down-and-away with both his changeup and fastball. We knew he was a crafty guy, it was just a matter of staying in the box and staying behind the baseball.”
Game 3: Arkansas 5 – Rice 2
Arkansas jumped out to an early 2-0 lead after 3.5 innings, but the Rice bats woke up in the fourth to tie the game in the bottom half of the fourth inning.
In fact, through six innings the line score was exactly the same for the two sides (2-5-0-3). It didn’t exactly seem that way though. The Arkansas pitching and defense looked strong throughout most of the night, whereas the Owls were constantly having to put out fires that Arkansas was starting on the basepaths. Credit: Jon Duplantier. The Rice starter was effective in the outing, keeping Arkansas off-balance, moving the fastball high, low, inside, and outside. He was also able to limit the Razorbacks’ movement on the bases. Out of the stretch, the junior right-hander varied his timing to the plate with runners on as well as varying his slide-step and the more traditional leg kick.
“I told our team on (Duplantier) that they just beat a future big leaguer, you won’t face many better than that,” mentioned Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn. “If we got a fastball in the zone, we needed to make contact. When he throws a fastball middle in on righties it runs in a lot. He jammed us a lot.”
In the seventh, as Duplantier got tired, the Razorbacks were able to take advantage with back-to-back hit-by-pitches and a wild pitch netting an Arkansas run and a 3-2 lead over the Owls. Arkansas would strike for two more in the inning. With a new lead, Van Horn decided to go to his workhorse in Zach Jackson who kept Rice silent the rest of the night. Jackson, a 6’3″ 195 lb. righty, worked a dominating fastball with one of the best, if not the best, breaking balls in the country. He pitched three innings and struck out four for the Razorbacks.
“(Zach) Jackson isn’t just a one inning guy, he could be a starter for us if we wanted to use him that way,” added Van Horn. “We’ve been calling him our wildcard. We pitch him three innings on Friday, he probably doesn’t throw on Saturday, then we can close him on Sunday. We felt like. we’d just gotten the lead, our first road game against a really good team, we need to bring in our guy.”