By Chris Due, Lubbock Christian Athletic Media Relations Director
LUBBOCK, Texas – What a way to salvage a weekend… After falling in four straight games in Oklahoma City against No.2 Oklahoma City, with three of the losses decided by one run, No. 5 Lubbock Christian University (Texas) returned to Lubbock and in less than 24 hours the Chaparrals received a sacrifice fly by Brent Leslie for the go-ahead run in the ninth inning and prevailed with a 6-5 win over Texas Tech University Sunday night at Rip Griffin Park at Dan Law Field.
The win by the Chaparrals should not be much of a shocker. The Chaps claimed their 20th all-time win over the Red Raiders and improved their record to 20-16 in the all-time series. LCU will brag though because the opportunities against the Red Raiders have dwindled over the years. Sunday’s meeting was just the second game between the two programs since 1993 and the win over the Red Raiders was LCU’s first since April 14, 1992… ironically 21 years ago to the day.
Texas Tech struck first in the game, as Jake Barrios hit a single to score Brett Bell, who had led off the bottom of the first inning with a double. Chaps starting pitcher Dalton Silva settled down and got a double-play ball to get out of the first inning. He faced the next 11 Red Raiders without allowing a hit. Meanwhile, the Chaps offense collected a trio of runs. Joel Lutz ended an 0-for 11 drought with a single in the second inning and he scored on a triple hit by Brennyn Smith, who hit the top of the wall with a drive to left-centerfield. Smith would score on a two-out single by Brett Kauten, which ended his 0-for-10 dry spell to give LCU a 2-1 lead. In the third inning, LCU made it 3-1 with Smith producing a two-out RBI with a single. Devon Conley hit a triple in the fourth inning leading to a run for Texas Tech and the Chaps lead was cut to 3-2. Tech loaded the bases with one out in the fifth inning, but Chaps reliever Hunter Flake forced Eric Gutierrez into hitting into a 3-6-1 double play to hold the Chaps lead.
The Chaps extended their lead to 5-2 in the seventh inning with Brandon Wilson and Lutz producing back-to-back home runs. Wilson’s home run into the left field bullpen was his second of the season and his first since Feb. 9. Lutz’s mammoth blast over the left field wall was his 11th of the season to move him into the top-five in the NAIA in home runs. Tech answered in the bottom half of the inning, as Flake could not adapt to a shrinking strike zone. Flake walked the first three batters before being replaced and the Red Raiders first five batters in the inning walked. Blake Bass pinch hit and hit into a fielder’s choice to tie the game at 5-5. Monty McCasland eventually pitched LCU out of the jam and Tech left the bases loaded.
Christian Vazquez led off the ninth inning with a double and advanced to third base on an error by centerfielder Conley. Leslie would hit the first pitch of the at-bat to left field and Vazquez beat the throw home for a 6-5 lead. It was Leslie’s team-leading sixth sacrifice fly of the season. Kyle Forsyth, who made 18 relief appearances last season, made his second of the season in the ninth inning and he claimed his first save of the season and third of his career.
It was fitting that the game was decided by one run, as one-run losses have plagued both squads. The win improved LCU to 7-8 in one-run games, while the loss dropped Tech to 3-8 in games decided by one run.
Barrios led Tech at the plate in the loss, going 2-for-3 with two RBI. Wilson went 3-for-5 with a homer for the Chaps. They also had multi hit performances by Lutz (2-for-5), Smith (2-for-4 with two RBI) and Kauten (2-for-3). McCasland claimed the win (2-1) in relief allowing one hit over two scoreless innings pitched. Jerad McCrummen suffered the loss for Tech and fell to 1-5. Tech stranded 12 runners in the game.
LCU ends their first four-game losing streak since 2007 with the win and improves to 32-13. The 32 wins surpasses last season’s win total. Tech drops to 17-19 and their losing streak extends to six games. The Chaps return to Hays Field Friday to open a four-game Sooner Athletic Conference series with Rogers State University.