The Texas Tech Red Raiders were in the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic this weekend in what proved to be an awesome weekend of baseball -- not just for Texas Tech, but the Big 12 and college baseball as a whole.
With five of the six teams participating ranked in the top 15, there was some great, high-level action you would expect from the elite programs involved.
TCU, LSU, Texas A&M and Ole Miss have long been known as College Baseball powerhouses, but Texas Tech showed this weekend that they belong in the conversation as one of the top programs in the country.
Texas Tech has another chance to add to their impressive resume tonight as 9th ranked Arizona comes to town.
They have been to Starkville. They have played New Mexico.
All of this opportunity just provided us with some lessons as to why the Texas Tech baseball is so good this year. Here's what we've learned:
There has not been a lot of adversity in the 2017 season for the Texas Tech baseball season. But when adversity has been presented, this team has responded positively.
After getting shut out 9-0 against Texas A&M, Texas Tech responded by beating Ole Miss 5-1 the next day.
When LSU tied the game at 4 in the the top of the 9th, Texas Tech responded with a walk-off infield single in the bottom of the 9th.
Texas Tech beat Cal in the bottom of the 11th.
Tim Tadlock has such strong character that it has permeated this team in the best way.
The Pitching Staff Is Deep
The Texas Tech pitching staff is really solid.
The weekend starters are all sophomores and are 5-1 on the season, with the only loss coming against Texas A&M. Despite that loss, Davis Martin still has a 3.72 ERA. Steven Gingery and Ryan Shetter are the other two weekend starters both have sub-2 ERAs.
The staff as a whole is allowing a .214 opponents batting average through 117 innings of baseball. Impressive.
And it's not just the usual suspects in from the bullpen every game. The Red Raiders have used 12 bullpen arms in 13 games, and five of those arms have ERAs lower than two, including three relievers who have yet to allow a run.
There's also a litany of freshman doing work out of the bullpen -- more on that in a second.
Texas Tech Is a Top 10 Team
Yes, I know -- Captain Obvious.
According to d1baseball.com, Texas Tech was ranked 10th last week, and now after the weekend the Red Raiders are ranked 6th in the nation.
It's just that early in the year rankings are baseless because there is nothing to quantify what rank you are. But Texas Tech beating two other top 10 teams over the weekend lends credibility to Texas Tech being in the top 10.
There Is Veteran Leadership in the Lineup
Junior Tanner Gardner was the Texas Tech catalyst last year, along with all the senior bats that got drafted. But this year, Gardner got off to a slow start.
Gardner hit .379 last year. In 2017, he's hitting just .200. Don't expect the junior center fielder to stay there much longer, though. Over the weekend in Houston, Gardner was 5-13 with 5 RBIs, two doubles and a walk-off single against LSU.
He's heating up.
Senior Hunter Hargrove and Junior Orlando Garcia are in the top 10 of nearly every batting category the Big 12 offers. Hargrove is batting .370 with a slugging percentage of .700.
The Texas Tech Freshman Class Is Really Good
Freshman Grant Little is in the top 10 in the Big 12 batting .394 with an on-base percentage close to .500. But he's not the only impact freshman on this Texas Tech squad.
Josh Jung has been the starter since Day 1 at 3rd base. They have several freshmen behind the dish.
Texas Tech freshmen have put in over 20 innings on the mound through the first 13 games, mostly through the bullpen, though John Henry Gonzalez has two starts with a 3.72 ERA, a win and 9.2 innings logged. He'll likely start today against 9th ranked Arizona.