LUBBOCK A loss of control on the mound led to a loss on the scoreboard Saturday for Texas Tech in Game 2 of the Lubbock Super Regional.
Oklahoma State’s Noah Sifrit drew a leadoff walk and came the rest of the way around to score the winning run in the bottom of ninth inning as the Cowboys evened the series with a 6-5 victory over the Red Raiders at Dan Law Field.
It was Oklahoma State’s first win in five tries this season against Texas Tech. All five meetings have been in Lubbock.
It was also the Cowboys’ 21st victory this season after trailing at some point.
"I don’t think it’s an accident," Oklahoma State coach Josh Holliday said. "I don’t think you could be that fortunate to have that many accidents. It’s really a compliment to the kids and their willingness to keep playing. It’s kids like Colin Simpson who have been through these series, faced these great pitchers from Texas Tech, not one year, two years, three years, but four years, who have invested in Oklahoma State.
"Probably one of the reasons we have been able to come back a number of times is because the kids can close the gap with one swing of the bat from time to time. So it’s a little bit of who we are."
Game 3 of the series is scheduled for 5 p.m. Sunday with the winner advancing to the College World Series in Omaha, Nebraska.
"If any of you guys ask us if we could start the year and play one game for an opportunity to go to Omaha, I think we would all sign up for it," said Texas Tech coach Tim Tadlock, whose team is seeking its second consecutive College World Series berth and fourth since 2014. "We’re really looking forward to the opportunity tomorrow.
"These kid, they want to go to Omaha. They want to go so bad they can’t stand it. But it’s a baseball game and baseball is meant to be played one pitch at a time. You have to go out and win innings.
Sifrit, a graduate of Lubbock Coronado who entered the game in the eighth inning as a defensive replacementz, gave the Cowboys (40-20) their fourth lead in a game that saw Texas Tech (43-18) rally behind three times to tie or take the lead.
"Once they tied it up in the last inning, I knew I was the first one to lead off, so my mentality was just to get on base and get my team a chance to win," Sifrit said. "There were passed balls, and I took every opportunity I got."
Sifrit’s walk was issued Texas Tech reliever Clayton Beeter (0-3). Beeter was then lifted with a 2-0 count on Alix Garcia and Taylor Floyd came on to throw two wild pitches, sending Sifrit to third, in completing another walk. After Cade Cabbiness fouled out, Hueston Morrill walked to load the bases before the run scored.
Floyd had thrown just three wild pitches in 51 innings before Saturday.
Ben Leeper (4-3) got the final four outs for the win after surrendering the tying run in the ninth on Brian Klein’s sacrifice fly.
The Cowboys took leads of 3-1 in the fifth and 5-4 in the eighth on two-run homers by Morrill and Colin Simpson. Hueston connected for his second home run of the season off Red Raiders starter Caleb Kilian, while Simpson hit his 16th off Dane Haveman. Morrill finished 3 for 3 and Simpson was 2 for 4 with three RBIs.
Freshman Dru Baker, who was 2 for 3, twice brought Texas Tech from behind, hitting a leadoff homer in the seventh to tie the game at 3, then giving the Red Raiders a 4-3 lead in the eighth with a two-out RBI single.
"He had some pretty good at bats," Tadlock said of Baker. "It’s been pretty much a month (since Baker last started) and he’s been working really hard. His preparation has been really good."
Gabe Holt and Dylan Neuse both went 2 for 5 for Texas Tech, while Braxton Fulford was 2 for 4.
The Cowboys, playing as the home team, struck for a run in the first when Morrill led off with a single, stole second and scored on Simpson’s one-out single to right.
The Red Raiders tied it in the third on Holt’s fielder’s choice. Baker walked with one out and went to third on Braxton Fulford’s single. Holt followed with a bouncer to first and Garcia’s throw home appeared to be in time, but Baker reached around the tag of Cowboys catcher Bryce Carter.
Texas Tech missed a chance for more in the inning when Oklahoma State starter Parker Scott struck out Josh Jung to leave the bases loaded.
"It was just a key moment in the game," Tadlock said. "I think (Scott) would have been fine walking him, to be honest."
Morrill’s homer in the fifth came with two outs on the first pitch after Kilian struck out Cabbiness.
Texas Tech got a run back in the sixth when Klein bounced a leadoff double over the right-field fence, moved up on Jung’s groundout to right side and scored on Cameron Warren’s groundout.
After Baker tied in in the seventh, Jung led off the eighth with a single, but was out trying for second. With two outs, pinch hitter Cody Masters rolled a single up the left arm of Oklahoma State reliever Joe Lienhard and Kurt Wilson walked. Baker then lined a 1-0 pitch to left.
Simpson’s homer in the eighth off Dane Haveman gave Oklahoma State its third lead of the game. Morrill led off the inning with a single.
In the top of the ninth, Holt reached on a two-base error and advanced on Neuse’s infield single. Neuse stole second before Klein lined out to left to tie the game for the third time.
With first base open, Jung was intentionally walked, but Leeper retired Cameron Warren and Masters to set up the finish.