After nearly five hours of baseball on Saturday, one more afternoon will decide whether Texas Tech or East Carolina makes the College World Series.
The winner will dogpile and celebrate its spot in the College World Series. The loser, especially if it is East Carolina after picking up its first-ever super regional victory on Friday night and squandering some late chances on Saturday, will have to deal with the angst of finishing one win away from a trip to Omaha, Neb.
Texas Tech created the Sunday winner-take-all scenario for the best-of-three series in dramatic fashion with a 3-1 victory in 13 innings in a game that took four hours and 56 minutes.
All-American first baseman Eric Gutierrez came to the plate against ECU freshman pitcher Sam Lanier in the top of the 13th with the bases loaded and two outs and smacked a two-run single up the middle to make it 3-1. Gutierrez, the Red Raiders’ No. 2 hitter who came in with 12 home runs and 53 RBIs for the season, had been hitless in his previous 16 at-bats.
Now, one afternoon will decide both teams’ fates. First pitch is at 3 p.m. (EST).
“You can’t go through the back door to get to Omaha,” Pirates coach Cliff Godwin said. “You have to go through the front door and tell everybody you’re coming.”
The Pirates (38-22-1) managed to load the bases with two outs in the bottom of the 12th inning, and freshman substitute Brady Lloyd came up for his second at-bat. He made good contact to produce a grounder right of second base, but Michael Davis scooped it and stepped on the bag to send the game to the 13th frame.
Pirates closer Joe Ingle allowed one hit, struck out six and walked five in five scoreless innings, but Lanier replaced him to start the 13th. Godwin said Ingle, who threw 82 pitches, will not be available to pitch in Game 3.
Lanier got the first two outs in the Texas Tech 13th, but that was followed by a walk, single and walk to set up Gutierrez’s winning hit.
“The last pitch was a fastball outside, and he got a good swing off of it,” Lanier said. “He’s a good hitter. … Coach Godwin just talked to me and said I have to be ready tomorrow, so I’m going to be ready.”
Gutierrez was 1-for-6 in the game with a walk. His big hit came on a 1-0 pitch with many of the 4,817 fans on their feet.
“It was great, and I just got a good pitch to hit,” he said.
Texas Tech nearly took a 2-1 lead in the top of the ninth, but a close call went the Pirates’ way. With two outs, baserunner Tyler Floyd headed for home as Pirates first baseman Bryce Harman went after the ball after a single. The throw to catcher Travis Watkins beat Floyd, but Watkins missed at his first attempt at a tag and then recollected for a very close play at the play that was called an out.
ECU then had a quality chance in the bottom of the frame, sparked by a leadoff single and walk. But Texas Tech’s Robert Dugger induced two straight flyouts and struck out Charlie Yorgen for the final out of the ninth.
Dugger got the win, tossing the final five scoreless innings. Pirates starter Jimmy Boyd, a Raleigh native, gave up one run in 5 1/3 frames.