HOUSTON – The No. 17 Texas Tech baseball team battled on a sun-splashed Saturday afternoon for a gritty 3-2 win against Rice at Reckling Park. The Owls tied the game, 2-2, in the bottom of the eighth, just to see the Red Raiders regain the lead in the top of the ninth.
The Red Raiders (13-3) carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning, spearheaded by a career day from starter Brandon Birdsell. The Houston area native was lifted after six complete innings, allowing zero hits, zero runs, and struck out a career-high 15 while walking zero in front of friends and family.
Birdsell’s 15 strikeouts were the most by a Red Raider since Bobby Doran’s 16 versus Missouri on May 1, 2010. The school record is 18, owned by Monty Ward (1998) and Buddy Hampton (1968).
After 90 pitches from Birdsell, Brendan Girton entered in the seventh and maintained the no-hitter until the eighth when the no-hit bid was broken up after 7.1 IP. Rice was able to score its first run on its first hit, having a runner in scoring position after a leadoff walk set the Owls’ offense up. Girton retired one in the inning, and Derek Bridges entered to record the second out of the eighth but also allowed one hit that scored the Owls’ second run. Trendan Parish picked up the last out of the inning and closed the game in the ninth (watch) to earn his first win of the season.
Texas Tech jumped out to a 1-0 lead in the first, as Rice paid for a first-inning error allowing Cole Stilwell to reach base on a pop-up in the infield. Ty Coleman hit a two-out RBI double to left-center field to bring Stilwell around (watch). Coleman was again involved in the Red Raiders’ scoring in the fourth, as he drew a leadoff walk. Tech capitalized on a Rice error that allowed Coleman to advance to third – a sharply hit ball by Kurt Wilson in the infield that was ruled an error. Owen Washburn brought Coleman home from third thanks to a sacrifice fly (watch) to put Texas Tech in the lead, 2-0.
After Rice tied the game in the eighth, Wilson led off the ninth with a single to advance his hitting streak to nine games. Parker Kelly, who’s recorded six home runs since last Saturday, hit a two-out double to the left-center warning track (watch) to score Wilson all the way from first base to ultimately decide the game.
The Red Raiders were limited to five hits on the day, two of the five were doubles while the other three were singles. Rice managed three hits despite being no-hit into the eighth.
The Red Raiders’ series finale versus Rice in Houston is on Sunday at 1 p.m. Texas Tech returns home to host New Mexico on Tuesday and Wednesday before going back on the road next weekend for a series at Iowa.