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COLLEGE BASEBALL: Red Raiders survive in Game 1 of Super Regional - Odessa American: Sports

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COLLEGE BASEBALL: Red Raiders survive in Game 1 of Super Regional

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Posted: Friday, June 7, 2019 7:57 pm

LUBBOCK The Texas Tech Red Raiders had to hold on tight at the end.

John McMillon had a very good grip.

McMillon struck out the side in the ninth inning Friday as Texas Tech held off Oklahoma State 8-6 in Game 1 of the Lubbock Super Regional at Dan Law Field, moving the Red Raiders a step closer their fourth trip to the College World Series in the last six years.

Game 2 of the series is scheduled for 5 p.m. today with Texas Tech (43-17) needing one more victory to advance to Omaha for the second year in a row

“Well, it’s better than the alternative,” Texas Tech coach Tim Tadlock said of grabbing the series lead. “It is baseball. We got a lot of respect for Oklahoma State, their team. We understand you got to earn the right to win.

“It doesn’t hurt anything as far as winning Game 1, but you’ve got to show up tomorrow and earn it.”

Oklahoma State coach Josh Holliday said the Cowboys (39-20) showed they can get back in the series by twice getting within a run in the late innings Friday.

“We competed awfully hard,” he said. “I don’t know we played the cleanest game we could play. I know we could play better.

“We did compete pitch to pitch with a great amount of emotion and intensity. I appreciate that from my team a great deal. We’ll come back tomorrow and be ready to play in Game 2.”

McMillon came on in the eighth and recorded the final six outs for his third save. The biggest may have been against Oklahoma State’s Christian Funk in the ninth. With one out and a runner on, Funk, representing the tying run, fouled off five two-strike pitches in an 11-pitch at bat. McMillon won the battle, getting Funk to swing and finally miss, then struck out Colin Simpson looking to end the game.

“In the end, (McMillon) made a couple beautiful pitches to finish the game,” Holliday said. “We have to move on and pick up tomorrow.”

Texas Tech got off to a fast start against Cowboys starter Jensen Elliott, building a 6-2 lead by the fourth inning. Oklahoma State battled back, closing the deficit to 6-5 in the seventh and 7-6 in the eighth.

Texas Tech pitchers recorded 46 strikeouts against the Cowboys in sweeping a three-game Big 12 Conference series in April. On Friday, the Red Raiders pitchers combined for 15 strikeouts.

Freshman starter Micah Dallas (7-0) had a career-high nine strikeouts in going five innings. He allowed two earned runs on four hits and a walk.

Dallas said the key was not leaving balls up for the Cowboys, who hit their 88th homer of the season in the game.

“They’re a great offense,” Dallas said. “If you leave it up, they’ll for sure make you pay. That was the game plan going in, try and miss low, just try to get some groundballs. If they swing and miss, they swing and miss.”

Elliott (10-4) allowed four earned runs on seven hits over four innings. He struck out two and walked four.

Josh Jung and Cody Masters homered for the Red Raiders, who totaled 11 hits, while Dylan Neuse and Brian Klein each drove in two runs. Neuse (2 for 4), Klein (2 for 4), Jung (2 for 5) and Kurt Wilson (2 for 4) each had two hits.

Oklahoma State’s Trevor Boone and Alix Garcia, who homered, each finished 2 for 4 with two RBIs.

Neuse got things going for the Red Raiders with a two-run single in the second and Masters connected for his fifth home run with one out in the third.

The key to the second-inning runs, Tadlock said, was Braxton Fulford and Gabe Holt working consecutive full-count walks to load the bases.

“Any time you can separate balls and strikes, it’s good for the guy behind you,” Tadlock said. “I was really proud of the way those guys handled that today. You’re thankful and you understand it’s baseball. Dylan hit it on the nose, right up the middle. Thankful the ball got through.”

The Cowboys answered when Boone slipped a two-run single through the middle in the fourth, but Texas Tech responded with three runs in the bottom of the inning, getting an RBI single from Kelin and two more runs when Cameron Warren’s two-out blooper was dropped for an error.

Garcia’s home run in the fifth and RBI singles by Garcia and Hueston Morrill in the seventh got the Cowboys within a run, but they left the bases loaded when Neuse pulled in Simpson’s drive to the warning track.

Jung, who was drafted eighth overall by the Texas Rangers on Monday, followed with a series of impactful plays to help Texas Tech keep the lead. He homered off Jake Lyons on the first pitch in the bottom of the seventh, then let his glove do the work in the top of the eighth.

Oklahoma State had runners at second and third with no outs after an error and Boone’s double, which knocked off the glove of Red Raider third baseman Easton Murrell. Jung raced back into left field to pull in Bryce Carter’s popup for the first out. Following Carson McCusker’s sacrifice fly, which made it 7-6, Jung made a diving stop of Garcia’s sharp grounder up the middle in time to make the throw for the third out.

“I guess defensively we just need someone to step up and make a play,” Jung said. “It happened to be me this time. Throughout the season, we’ve had different guys step up and make plays.

“One of the biggest things we pride ourselves on is not giving up too many runs. It seemed like we hit a lapse on defense for a second, two or three errors. We were just looking for that one play. Anyone on the field could have made it.”

Texas Tech tacked on an insurance run in the eighth on Klein’s sacrifice fly.

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