OMAHA – The No. 9 Texas Tech baseball team owned the middle innings to open the 2018 College World Series with a 6-3 victory over No. 1 Florida on Sunday night at TD Ameritrade Park.
The Red Raiders (45-18) struck for five of their six runs and seven of their 12 hits in the fourth-through-sixth innings against the Gators (47-20). Four Tech hitters produced multi-hit bids at the plate, with sophomore Grant Little accounting for three.
Tech's six runs marked the most in school history in a CWS game, besting the June 23, 2016 contest vs. Coastal Carolina, while the 12 hits passed the previous high of nine from that matchup.
Senior left-handed pitcher Dylan Dusek got the start in Tech's first game of the 2018 College World Series. The Sugar Land native went 2.0+ innings, allowed one hit and two walks, was charged with a run and had a strikeout.
He was relieved by junior RHP Ryan Shetter, who tossed 4.1 frames, allowing one run on three hits, walking one with seven strikeouts, the most strikeouts in a CWS game by a Red Raider. Shetter improved to 2-0 in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, allowing a total of three runs on nine hits with 15 strikeouts in 14.0 innings pitched.
The Gators plated the first run of the night after two scoreless innings. Florida's Liput scored on a balk with one out in the frame, after he walked and moved around the bases on a wild pitch and stolen base.
However, Tech answered back with a run of its own in the next trip to the plate to tie the game at one. Sophomore Josh Jung smoked a one-out single to right field, then moved to second on a balk and to third on a passed ball, setting up Little for a sacrifice fly to left field to bring him home.
Sparked by a 14-pitch at bat from junior Cameron Warren, the Red Raiders followed in the fifth inning with a pair of two-out runs to build a 3-1 lead. Sophomore Cody Farhat kept the inning alive with a single to left field, then a throwing error by the shortstop on a grounder from freshman Braxton Fulford put the duo in scoring position. Enter freshman Gabe Holt, who took advantage of the E6 with a two-RBI single through the right side of the infield to take the lead.
Tech repeated it in the sixth to make it three-straight innings with a run for a 5-1 advantage. Little kicked off the frame with a single and stolen base to get into scoring position, then was easily brought in by a Zach Rheamsdouble off the right field wall for the first run of the frame. Another single from senior Michael Davis shortly after to right-center field sent Rheams across home for back-to-back two run innings.
In the bottom of the seventh, Florida countered with a two-run homer from Maldonado to make it a two-run game.
The Red Raiders manufactured an insurance run in the top of the ninth as Farhat led off reaching base and moving to second on a sac bunt from Fulford. Holt followed with a base hit through the right side, allowing Farhat to score and make it a 6-3 ballgame.
Junior right-handed pitcher Ty Harpenau tossed the final 2.2 innings to close out the win for Tech. He struck out three Gators while surrendering just one run on one hit with a pair of walks. As a staff, Tech's trio fanned 11 Florida batters, marking the most strikeouts for the Red Raiders in a CWS game.
Holt finished 2-for-5 on the day with three RBI, matching Stephen Smith in 2016 with the most RBI in a CWS game for a Red Raider. Holt has now hit safely in 15-consecutive games, marking the longest streak by a Red Raider this season.
Little turned in a 3-for-3 day with two doubles, an RBI and two stolen bases. He became the first Red Raider in program history to compile three hits in a CWS game and the second Red Raider to steal two bases in a CWS game. It marked his 27th multi-hit game of the season and eighth game with three or more hits this season.
Jung and Farhat also turned in multi-hit games. For Jung, it marked his team-leading 34th of the season and his fifth through seven games in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. Farhat, meanwhile, tallied his 17th multi-hit game this season, and has hit safely in every game of the NCAA Tournament.
Texas Tech (45-18) moves on to face Arkansas (45-19) Tuesday night at 6 p.m. CT on ESPN.