For a program that hadn’t played in the NCAA tournament since 2004, Texas Tech appeared to have the poise under pressure of an experienced College World Series mainstay.
Eric Gutierrez, the cleanup-hitting first baseman who was hitless in his previous four at-bats, delivered a walk-off double to left-center to score the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth as the 23rd-ranked Red Raiders earned a 3-2 victory over Columbia in the first game of the Coral Gables Regional on Friday afternoon at Alex Rodriguez Park.
Texas Tech (41-18), the No. 2 seed in the regional, will face host Miami on Saturday night in a winner’s bracket game at 7 p.m.
Texas Tech designated hitter and FIU transfer Adam Kirsch put his team up 2-1 with a two-run home run off the scoreboard beyond the left-field wall in the fifth.
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“He started me off with a fastball. After that pitch, I thought to myself that he wasn’t going to beat me with that pitch again,” Kirsch said.
“I got to it, and I got barrel.”
With a 2-for-5 performance, left fielder Tyler Neslony extended his hitting streak to 19 games and notched his 19th multi-hit game of the season.
Jonny Drozd improved his spotless record in relief to 7-0 with 3 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up just two hits, striking out one and retiring the last seven Lions he faced.
Columbia starter George Thanopoulos — starting in place of usual ace David Speer, who was out after having emergency appendectomy surgery on Monday — left the game with a 1-0 lead.
But he only lasted four innings after walking four and having to get out of two bases-loaded jams.
Columbia (29-19) is bumped to a loser’s bracket game against Bethune-Cookman at 2 p.m.
Sam Howard tossed a two-hitter and struck out 10 as Georgia Southern stunned Florida State 7-0 in the Tallahassee Regional.
Howard (7-6) retired 15 in a row for the Eagles (40-21) during one stretch. The left-hander walked two and threw 137 pitches.
Dalton Busby went 3 for 3 with a two-run homer and a double, and Garrett Chapman had a solo home run and a double as Georgia Southern pounded out 16 hits.
Florida State (43-16) had won 19 consecutive NCAA regional games.
Georgia Southern will play Kennesaw State on Saturday, and the Seminoles will play Alabama in an elimination game.
Florida State had as many hits as it did errors.
Georgia Southern chased right-hander Mike Compton (7-3) in the second inning, and the Seminoles used four relievers to finish the game.
The loss snapped FSU’s 19-game winning streak in regional play, as it marked the Seminoles first setback in the NCAA regionals since falling to Bucknell in the opening game of the 2008 Tallahassee Regional.
The shutout on Friday night was just the second time the Seminoles were held without a run this season.