GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Texas Tech defeated No. 10 UConn 3-2 in the opening round game of the Gainesville Regional on Friday afternoon at Condron Ballpark. The win marks the seventh in eight postseasons that the Red Raiders won an opening-round game of an NCAA regional under head coach Tim Tadlock.
A rock-solid start from sophomore southpaw Mason Molina and timely hitting from veteran fifth-year senior Zac Vooletech set the stage for the win. Molina limited the Huskies to one hit over six innings while striking out 10. Vooletich provided a pair of hits, none greater than a two-RBI single with two outs in the fifth that gave the Red Raiders much-needed run support.
“I thought these two guys were outstanding,” said head coach Tim Tadlock in the postgame press conference as Vooletich and Molina were sitting to his left and right. “I mean the way Zac put together some really good at-bats and when you get a starting pitcher to go out there and establish the way Mason did today, it sure makes it a lot easier to play baseball. I thought he was outstanding.”
Molina was in-sync from the start, needing just 13 pitches, 11 being strikes to push through the first inning. Molina mowed down five over the first two innings en route to his 10 strikeouts. He remained efficient through five innings, needing just 62 pitches and had just one baserunner who reached on an error in the span.
The only hit UConn scratched across against Molina was on a 3-2 pitch with two outs in the bottom of the sixth, which was snapped back at the pitcher’s mound, and Molina he could not field it as it went for an infield single. Molina’s stellar start came to an end in the bottom of the seventh after walking the first two batters to lead off the inning, his only two walks of the game. He was lifted in favor of bullpen arm Brandon Beckel. Both batters Molina walked scored on Beckel’s watch, tightening the game to 3-2 after seven innings.
“Got a little tired at the end and walked two guys I didn’t want to,” said Molina. “But pretty proud of the way I threw the ball.”
Beckel kept Tech in line for the win in the eighth, stranding a leadoff baserunner that was on second with no outs and on third with just one out. For the second out, a short flyout was fielded by Gage Harrelson in shallow right field that he fired to home plate, forcing the runner to retreat to third base. The third out was another flyout to right field to end the inning.
Josh Sanders recorded his first save of the season, tossing a 3-up, 3-down ninth to secure the 3-2 win.
The Red Raiders’ outhit UConn eight to three. But recorded all eight hits of their hits, and three runs, over the first five innings. Tech had at least one hit in each of the first five innings before being shut down over the final four.
Back-to-back base hits by a pair of freshmen in the first inning scored the game’s first run for Tech. Harrelson singled in his first career postseason at-bat and then an RBI double thanks to Kevin Bazzell, another first career postseason at-bat, gave Tech a 1-0 lead. Tech left the bases loaded in the top of the fifth but did cash in on a bases-loaded situation earlier in the frame to open a 3-0 lead. With Gavin Kash due up with one out and the bases full, UConn pulled its starter. Kash went down swinging versus the new arm but Vooletich’s hot bat connected for a two-run RBI single on a two-out, 0-2 pitch.
“I was just trying to put a good swing on something and help us win,” said Vooletich. “I wasn’t trying to get too big. I just wanted to stay simple. I knew the guy on the mound was a good arm and that’s their guy out the pen. So, just stay simple and try to help the team win.”
Texas Tech advances into the winner’s bracket of the Gainesville Regional. Tech will play next on Saturday at 5 p.m. CT versus the winner of Friday night’s Florida vs. Florida A&M contest.
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Straight Up Facts:
- Texas Tech advances into the winner’s bracket of the Gainesville Regional
- Tech will play next on Saturday at 5 p.m. CT versus the winner of Friday night’s Florida vs. Florida A&M contest
- TV broadcast details have yet to be released whether linear or ESPN+
- For the seventh time in eight postseasons under Tim Tadlock, the Red Raiders won the opening round game of the NCAA regionals
- Tadlock improves to 32-19 in the NCAA tournament
- The win marks the 40th for the Red Raiders
- Tadlock owns six 40-win seasons in 10 full seasons at the helm at Tech.
- The win over No. 10 UConn moves Tech’s record vs. Top 25 opponents to 8-8 in 2023
- Texas Tech improves to 5-1 all-time versus UConn.
- Starter Mason Molina moved to 6-2 this season; the Red Raiders are 11-5 overall this season in his 16 starts
- Molina allowed one hit and struck out 10 in 6.0 IP
- It was his fourth double-digit strikeout game of the season; it was the third in his last seven starts
- The Red Raiders move to 10-0 this season when holding an opponent to two or fewer runs
- The Red Raiders move to 19-3 this season when scoring in the first inning
- Three Red Raiders had multiple hits (Harrelson, Bazzell, Vooletich) as Tech out-hit UConn 8 to 3
- Vooletich owns 14 multi-hit games over the last 20 games he’s played in
- Nolen Hester extended his Big 12 best on-base streak to 47 games by drawing a walk in the 8th inning
- Josh Sanders finished the game in the ninth, 3-up, 3-down
- It earned his second career save but his first in high-leverage as the first was a 4.0 IP appearance to finish a 10-1 game at Rice on March 11, 2022
- It was his second career game against UConn dating back to freshman season vs. UConn (3/15/21)
- He allowed one hit in 2.0 IP in 2021 to the Huskies
Release provided by MATT BURKHOLDER Texas Tech Athletics