No. 15 Texas Tech split the day to advance to the 2019 Baton Rouge Regional Finals.
BATON ROUGE, La. – The No. 15 Texas Tech softball team had a marathon of a day as it dropped a 13-inning, one-run heartbreaker to No. 10 LSU before bouncing back against Louisiana Tech to advance to the 2019 Baton Rouge Regional Finals.
Tech dropped a 5-4 battle in game one but rallied in game two with a 3-1 win against the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters.
“Our team goes hard,” head coach Adrian Gregory said. “We have been out here for 12 hours and I think that you can see the heart and pride of what we do. I am so excited and proud of these guys. They put their heart out on the line every single day. Today was grueling, and tomorrow will be the same but, we will definitely celebrate the win today.”
The Red Raiders played a total of 20 innings on day two in Baton Rouge – 13 in game one and seven in game two – and limited opponents to six runs and a .208 average at the plate. As a team, Tech collected 16 hits on the day and pushed across seven runs.
With the split, the Red Raiders advance to their fifth-ever regional final and first since 2011. Tech’s 41st victory of the season matches the program’s third-highest win total that was set in the 2011 season.
GAME ONE (13 innings) – No. 10 LSU 5, No. 15 Texas Tech 4
Game one was a 13-inning marathon that began at 1 p.m. and lasted 4 hours and 25 minutes at Tiger Park. The Red Raiders immediately swung the momentum their way and used three hits and an error to take an early lead.
Karli Hamilton drew a leadoff walk to start the game and back-to-back bunts from Heaven Burton and Jessica Hartwell moved runners into scoring position with one out. Proving she could lay down a bunt, Tech’s 2019 home run leader Trenity Edwards squared up and bunted a ball straight back to LSU starter Shelbi Sunseri.
Hamilton came sprinting home on the play and an error on the throw home allowed Burton to score from third. With two outs, Peyton Blythe pushed across another run on an RBI single through the right side and freshman Zoe Jones brought in Tech’s fourth run of the game on an RBI single to left field.
Tech starter Missy Zoch held the 10th ranked Tigers scoreless in the first inning and singles from Hamilton, Burton an Edwards loaded the bases for Tech in the second. However, a hard-hit ball flew straight to LSU’s Amanda Sanchez at third and she made the final out to end the threat.
LSU loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the inning, but Zoch buckled down and used a ground out to Breanna Russell at third to escape the jam.
After she reached on an error in the top of the third, Blythe found herself at third base with two outs but the Red Raiders were unable to bring the freshman home. Zoch fought through two base runners in the bottom frame and held the Tigers off the board for her third straight inning.
Tech was retired in order to start the fourth and the momentum started to shift in the bottom of the inning. LSU used a triple, hit batter and failed fielder’s choice to load the bases with no outs in the bottom of the inning and Zoch walked in LSU’s first run of the game to cut into the Red Raiders’ lead. Gregory turned to lefty hurler Erin Edmoundson after the run and LSU plated two more runs on a sacrifice fly and misthrow from Hamilton in center field.
A walk to Edwards and single from Russell got the Red Raiders rolling in the top of the fifth, but Tech was held off once again.
Edmoundson used a strikeout and two fly balls to hold off LSU in the bottom frame, but two hits and a walk allowed the Tigers to tie up the game, 4-4, in the sixth.
From there, neither team scored for six full innings. Edmoundson allowed five base runners over the next five innings and Tech saw a golden opportunity to score in the top of the 12th inning. Burton scorched a one-out single through the right side and immediately stole second. The sophomore advanced to third on a passed ball, but Tech’s efforts were ended on a scorched ball to third base that went straight to Sanchez.
Tech found itself in a jam when LSU loaded the bases with no outs in the bottom of the inning. Fighting against the heart of the Tiger lineup, Edmoundson and the Red Raider defense buckled down and used a force at the plate, foul out and a grounder to short to escape the bases-loaded threat.
Jones tried to spark a run in the 13th inning of the game but a fly out to left field that did not have enough power behind it ended Tech’s late rally.
LSU used three singles to load the bases in the bottom of the inning and the Tigers ended the marathon with a sacrifice fly that went into center field. The throw home from Hamilton was not in time to catch LSU’s Taryn Antoine and the loss sent Tech into the loser’s side of the bracket.
Edmoundson was dealt the loss in the 5-4 contest and the Red Raiders dropped to 40-15 on the year.
GAME TWO – No. 15 Texas Tech 3, Louisiana Tech 1
The Red Raiders’ second game of the day was another grueling battle where the momentum teetered back and forth. However, Zoch turned the page and dominated a hot Louisiana Tech offense with seven strikeouts and three hits allowed through seven innings.
Both teams went three-up, three down in the opening stanza but Tech collected its first hit of the day on an Edwards single to center field in the top of the second. Miranda Padilla, who stepped in to run for Edwards, made it all the way around to third, but the Red Raiders were unable to bring in a run.
Zoch kept Tech in the fight with a fly out and back-to-back strikeouts in the bottom of the inning. She fanned two more hitters in the third and made way for an early Tech lead in the top of the fourth.
Two consecutive singles from Edwards and Russell put a pair of runners on and a delayed steal to third by Edwards created chaos on the base paths. When Russell got caught in a pickle on the play, Edwards pulled off just enough to elicit a throw and all runners were called safe after everything was said and done.
Jones drew a walk following the ruckus and Louisiana Tech walked in a run thanks to a patient at-bat from sophomore catcher Kelcy Leach.
Another 1-2-3 inning kept Louisiana Tech off the board in the fourth, but one walk, one hit and one error allowed the Lady Techsters to tie up the game, 1-1, in the bottom of the fifth inning.
Timing was everything in the top of the seventh as Burton served as the catalyst for a late offensive surge. On a sharply hit ball in the infield, the Round Rock, Texas, native dove into first and forced an error on the throw. She popped up and took two extra bases to put the Red Raiders in prime scoring position with just one out.
In what seemed like déjà vu, Jessica Hartwell stepped up to the plate and belted an RBI single to give Tech its second run and lead of the day. Edwards mirrored Tech’s scoring efforts from yesterday as well and blasted an RBI double immediately after to give Tech a 3-1 insurance lead.
Zoch, who allowed just three hits in seven full innings, earned out number one via the strikeout and a fielder’s choice marked the second out of the inning. Helping the Red Raiders advance to their fifth-ever appearance in a regional final game, she finished the game with her seventh strikeout and improved to 17-10 with Tech’s 41st victory of the season.