LUBBOCK, Texas - Sophomore right-hander Chad Bettis induced Kevin Gonzalez into a game-ending double play with the bases loaded in the top of the ninth to give the Texas Tech Red Raiders a 4-3 win over No. 11 Texas A&M on Friday night in the series opener at Dan Law Field.
The win moves Texas Tech back to even in the Big 12 Conference as they stand at 5-5 in league play and 13-18 overall. Texas A&M, who entered the series in a first place tie in the league standings, falls to 6-4 in the Big 12 and to 19-10 on the year.
Things got a little hairy for the Red Raiders in the top of the ninth inning as the Aggies got their first two runners on before Luke Anders was retired on a fly ball to center. Designated hitter Brooks Raley (also went six innings as the Aggie starting pitcher) led off the inning and reached on a fielding error by Tech freshman third baseman Justin Berry. Aggie third baseman Caleb Shofner then moved Raley over to second with a single to left. Following the fly ball out by Anders, Tech committed its second error of the inning when shortstop Joey Kenworthy tried to make a play at third on a ground ball by pinch hitter David Alleman. Kenworthy, however, was unable to pick up the ball cleanly and the Aggies suddenly had the bases loaded with just one out. Bettis sealed the game on the very next pitch as Gonzalez grounded into a game-ending double play.
Texas A&M jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning off of senior right-hander Brian Cloud who was making his first career start. Raley hit a solo home run down the left field line with one out in the inning to stake the Aggies to a 1-0 lead. The home run was the first of his career. Tech junior left fielder Michael Reed misplayed a single by Anders two batters later and that allowed Shofner, who reached on a single following Raley's home run, to score all the way from first and gave the Aggies a 2-0 advantage.
Texas Tech came firing back in the bottom half of the third inning and it started with A&M's only fielding error of the evening. Senior second baseman and leadoff hitter Willie Rueda reached on a fielding error by shortstop Adam Smith and quickly moved to third on a double to left by Kenworthy. Junior center fielder Taylor Ashby tied the game at 2-2 with a double to the gap in right-center. Senior first baseman Chris Richburg gave the Red Raiders a 3-2 lead when he scored Ashby from second with a single to left.
Richburg delivered what turned out to the game-winning hit in the bottom of the sixth when he laced an RBI double over the head of A&M center fielder Kyle Colligan. Richburg's double scored Ashby, who reached on a two-out fielder's choice, and gave the Red Raiders a 4-2 lead.
Colligan pulled the Aggies within one in the top of the seventh when he hit a solo home run that bounced in the "Left Field Lounge."
Sophomore left-hander Robbie Kilcrease earned the win with 1 1/3 shutout innings and now stands at 2-0 on the season. Bettis logged the final three innings, allowing one run on five hits, to post his fifth save of the year and his fourth consecutive. Brooks Raley suffered the loss for A&M and falls to 5-1 after giving up all four runs (three earned) on six hits over six innings of work. The loss is the first for Raley since dropping 15-9 decision to Texas in last year's Phillips 66 Big 12 Championships in Oklahoma City.
Texas Tech and Texas A&M will play the second game of this three-game series tomorrow evening at 6:30 p.m. The game was originally scheduled for 5 p.m. but was pushed back in anticipation of strong winds Saturday afternoon.