LUBBOCK, TX – Junior third baseman Nick Popescu went 2-for-4 with three RBIs including the go-ahead run in the seventh to lead Texas Tech to a 9-7 win over Gonzaga on Tuesday night in front of 1,908 fans at Dan Law Field.
The win snaps a three-game losing skid as the Red Raiders improve to 8-5 on the season while Gonzaga drops to 4-5. Texas Tech and Gonzaga will wrap up their two-game series tomorrow with a noon first pitch and left-hander Scott Erzinger will make his first career start for the Red Raiders.
Just as they had done nine previous times this season, the Red Raiders went to work in the bottom of the first and put up two runs to grab the early lead. Nick Popescu drove in the first two of his game-high three RBIs with a bloop double to shallow center field that scored Joey Kenworthy and Barrett Barnes.
The second inning saw the Tech lead evaporate as Brandon Petite walked the first two batters he faced and things quickly went downhill from there. Sean Wilson drove in the first of five Bulldog runs in the inning with an RBI single and then a throwing error by Petite two batters later tied the game at 2-2. The night ended for Petite after he gave up a towering two-run home run to right field by Drew Heid. In all, the Bulldogs racked up five runs on three hits and one Tech error to grab a 5-2 lead into the bottom of the second.
Tech scratched across a single run in the third to pull within two but then regained the lead with a four-run outburst in the fourth. The Red Raiders loaded the bases three different times in the fourth inning and got a key two-RBI single from Garrett Totten, an RBI knock from Kenworthy and an RBI sacrifice fly from Barnes. The four runs in the fourth gave Tech a 7-5 lead.
Gonzaga mounted a two-out rally in the top of the sixth on an RBI double by Ernesto Ortiz and a fielding error by Kenworthy to tie the game up at 7-7.
Popescu's RBI single in the seventh broke the 7-7 tie and senior center fielder Taylor Ashby gave Tech some breathing room with an RBI base hit to right that gave the Red Raiders a two-run cushion at 9-7.
Chad Bettis, who had been Tech's Friday starter all season, entered the game in relief in the eighth and tossed two shutout innings with four strikeouts to pick up his first save of the season. John Neely gave the Red Raiders four strong innings of work and held the Bulldogs to just two runs on three hits and struckout five in a no-decision. Jay Johnson was credited with his first win of the season and now stands at 1-2.
R H E
Gonzaga - 050 002 000 - 7 8 0
Texas Tech - 201 400 20x - 9 13 2
WP = Jay Johnson (1-2)
LP = Billy Moon (1-1)
SV = Chad Bettis (1)