LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Miles Morgan's long awaited return to the mound couldn't have turned out any better for the Red Raiders. Morgan, who hadn't pitched in a collegiate game in over two years, held Southern Utah to just two runs over six innings and fanned 11 batters to lead the Red Raiders to an 8-2 win over the Thunderbirds in front of a crowd of 3,413 this afternoon at Dan Law Field.
The win moves Texas Tech to 3-0 on the season and the Red Raiders will go for their first 4-0 start since 2005, when they host UT-Pan American tomorrow at 3 p.m.
Morgan's first start was wasn't perfect in the first inning as he surrendered both runs in the first frame on three hits and two walks but was able to settle down the rest of the way. Over the next four innings, he would retire 12-straight hitters before Southern Utah's Keli'i Zablan was able to scratch out a single as the lead-off hitter in the top of the sixth.
The five scoreless innings by Morgan gave the offense time to go to work as Tech tacked on three runs in the bottom of the first and built a 5-2 lead in the fifth. In the bottom of the first, Taylor Ashby drove in the first of what turned out to be a game-high four RBI's as he laced an RBI single to center that scored Michael Reed. A balk on Thunderbird starter Kyle Melling tied the game at 2-2 before freshman designated hitter Scott LeJeune plated the go-ahead run on an RBI groundout.
Reed drove in a run in the bottom of the second to give Tech a 4-2 cushion and that lead grew to 5-2 thanks to an Ashby RBI double in the fifth.
Tech put the game away in the bottom of the eighth as the Red Raiders plated three runs, including a two-RBI single from Ashby, that gave them six-run lead.
Senior left-hander Cory Large earned his first career save as he tossed the final three innings and held the Thunderbirds scoreless despite allowing five hits and two walks. Kyle Melling (0-1) suffered the loss for Southern Utah as he gave up five runs on six hits and four walks over 4 2/3 innings.