June 2, 2014

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Red Raiders Reach First Supers

By David Furones

Special to CollegeBaseballInsider.com



CORAL GABLES, Fla. — To say it was David defeating Goliath would be a stretch with how evenly matched Texas Tech and No. 11 Miami were, but historically speaking, the biblical reference would serve as an accurate assessment.


Second-seeded Texas Tech, behind a complete-game shutout from Cameron Smith in its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2004, won the Coral Gables Regional against four-time national champion and owner of the nation’s longest active streak of 42 consecutive tournament appearances, top-seeded Miami, with a 4-0 victory in the decisive game Monday night at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field.


The Red Raiders (43-19) are Regional champions for the first time in program history. They will host College of Charleston, champion of the Gainesville Regional, in the Super Regionals.


“For me, being my senior year, this is amazing,” said senior center fielder Devon Conley, who went 2 for 2 with a walk and a run in the clinching win. “To be able to just play with my team, Texas Tech University — they’re family and this will be a memory forever for me.”


Added shortstop Tim Proudfoot: “This is just one stop for us on our total goal, so we’re excited. We’re going to be looking to the future and not the past now, so we’re going to go into Super Regionals hopefully swing the bats hot and doing the same thing on the mound.”


The Hurricanes (44-19) fell to Texas Tech for both of their losses in the Regional — two shutouts. Despite an inspired comeback earlier Monday to force Game 7, they only mustered two earned runs in the four games outside of a 10-0 Bethune-Cookman rout.


“That’s a hard thing to explain at any level — high school to Major Leagues and everywhere in between,” Miami coach Jim Morris said. “We just didn’t score a lot of runs. [Their pitching staff] just ate our lunch.”


At one point this season, Miami lost twice in a 27-game stretch. Between the ACC Tournament and the Regional, the Hurricanes went 4-4 to finish off the year. The powerhouse program does not make it past Regionals for the fourth consecutive season, two of which the Canes hosted.


Smith, the New Mexico Junior College transfer with three starts under his belt with the Red Raiders entering Monday, was sensational. The long, lanky lefty allowed just three hits and five walks while striking out three over the course of his 114 pitches in his nine scoreless innings.


“I just tried to do my job to keep us in the game,” said Smith, who joined Dylan Dusek and Ryan Moseley with superb pitching performances against Miami. “We all just tried to pitch our butts off, tried to get ahead in the count and tried to make them put it in play.


“It just so happened that they couldn’t score a run against us.”


Second-year Texas Tech coach Tim Tadlock had planned to start sophomore right-hander Johnathon Tripp if it reached the Regional final, but Smith, who was dealing with soreness in his arm earlier in the weekend, approached Tadlock before the game to tell him to entrust him with the ball.


“We don’t need to play him in golf because he’s a really good sandbagger. He might be that guy that’ll take your money,” Tadlock said. “He really pitched his tail off.”


The one time he got into trouble, with two on and one out in the bottom of the seventh, he induced a 5-4-3 double play to get out of the jam.


Freshman Miami starter Derik Beauprez, making the fourth start of his career, shut down the Red Raiders, leaders in nearly every offensive category in the Big 12, through his four scoreless innings, which matched his longest outing.


Beauprez gave up just one hit, walked two and struck out another pair.


He was replaced, despite throwing just 60 pitches, in favor of Cooper Hammond. Hammond was able to evade trouble in the fifth but gave up two runs in the seventh.


After allowing the first two batters to reach, a throw to first by catcher Garrett Kennedy on a sacrifice bunt attempt was airmailed, allowing Ryan Long to score and Proudfoot to reach third.


“I thought it was a mental mistake because the throw should’ve been going to third,” Morris said.


Proudfoot later scored on a sacrifice fly from pinch-hitter Alec Humphreys.


Hammond gave up two runs — one of them earned — on four hits in 2.1 innings.

Outfielders Dale Carey and Tyler Palmer and pitcher Javi Salas, all seniors for Miami, put their Hurricane careers in perspective postgame.


“I’m obviously sad we didn’t go where we wanted to go, but the last three-four years with these guys have just been unbelievable,” Carey said. “They’re like my brothers.”


Said Salas, “I’m a homegrown kid, so playing here — I lived two blocks away — was a dream.”


Palmer wrapped it up by saying, “Definitely not how we wanted to end the season, but I think the program’s going in the right direction. I’m proud to say that we, as seniors, started that.”


Game Notes

  •       Four Red Raiders made the Coral Gables All-Regional Team: first baseman Eric Gutierrez and third baseman Ryan Long joined Dusek and Proudfoot. Dusek was Most Outstanding Player for his eight shutout innings in a win against Miami that sent the Canes to the losers’ bracket. It was clear most of the ballots were turned in before Smith’s complete-game shutout in the Regional-clinching victory.

  •       Miami also had four players on the All-Regional Team: Kennedy, Palmer, catcher/designated hitter Zack Collins and pitcher Bryan Radziewski.

  •       Rounding out the All-Regional Team, Bethune-Cookman had second baseman Matt Noble and outfielder Josh Johnson make it while Columbia’s Robb Paller was also honored.

  •       Gutierrez, who was ejected in Sunday’s game for taunting Miami’s David Thompson by dropping the ball on him when he was on the ground after a collision at first, was booed by Miami fans every time he stepped to the plate. Gutierrez went 1 for 4, and was picked off his one time on base.