Jan. 27, 1998
Weekly Baseball Release
Following the Alumni game on Saturday, Jan. 31, Texas Tech begins its 1998 baseball season with a two-game series at New Mexico (in Albuquerque) on Feb. 3-4. The Red Raiders then return home for a three-game weekend series vs. West Texas A&M.
New Mexico returns 14 letterwinners and eight starters from a 25-32 1997 squad.
Texas Tech is 23-9-1 against New Mexico with the last game being played in 1995. The series dates back to the first game in 1962. Head coach Larry Hays is 17-6-1 against the Lobos. Texas Tech has played West Texas A&M 49 times since 1926. The Red Raiders are 41-7 against the Buffaloes, while Hays sports an undefeated 10-0 record.
Big 12 Baseball Media Teleconference The Big 12 Conference will conduct a preseason baseball teleconference with head baseball coaches of the member schools beginning at 10:30 a.m. on Thursday, Jan. 29. The number will be released at a later date or by calling the Bo Carter in the Big 12 Conference office at (214) 742-1212. Here is the coaches schedule: 10:30- Baylor coach Steve Smith; 10:35- Iowa State coach Lyle Smith; 10:40- Kansas coach Bobby Randall; 10:45- Kansas State coach Mike Clark; 10:50- Missouri coach Tim Jamieson; 10:55- Nebraska coach Dave Van Horn; 11:00- Oklahoma coach Larry Cochell; 11:05- Oklahoma State coach Tom Holliday; 11:10- Texas coach Augie Garrido; 11:15- Texas A&M- coach Mark Johnson; 11:20- Texas Tech coach Larry Hays. Head coaches may join the call when they wish. Coaches will have a 2-3 minute overview period then allow media questions by pressing “1.”
1998 Alumni Game The annual Texas Tech alumni game will be played on January 31st at 1 p.m. at Dan Law Field. Admission is free for all fans and press passes are not needed. See Greg Hotchkiss if you have not received your press pass for the 1998 season.
The Big 12 in the polls The preseason polls have yielded some diverse results as several of the Big 12 Conference teams were among the nation’s leaders. Tech was ranked in three different spots- 8th, 10th and 17th. Oklahoma State was ranked in the 7th, 8th and 16th slots while Oklahoma was slated in the 12th, 13th and 22nd spots. Polls couldn’t agree on Baylor as the Bears were ranked as high as 13th in Baseball America and 25th in Collegiate Baseball but were not among the Sporting News’ top-25. Texas A&M was included in only one ranking service- No. 24 by Collegiate Baseball, while Texas grabbed a No. 31 spot in Collegiate Baseball’s Fab-40.
Long Beach State, Tech’s opponent from Feb. 13-15 was ranked No. 26 in Collegiate Baseball’s Fab-40.
Baseball America: 8. TEXAS TECH; 13. Baylor; 16. Oklahoma State; 22. Oklahoma.
The Sporting News: 8. Oklahoma State; 10. TEXAS TECH; 13. Oklahoma.
Collegiate Baseball: 7. Oklahoma State; 12. Oklahoma; 17. TEXAS TECH; 24. Texas A&M; 25. Baylor; 31. Texas
Tech’s Preseason Honors:
• Keith Ginter- Collegiate Baseball First Team All America ... The Sporting News All America Second Team; Collegiate Baseball projected Player of the Year; Baseball America “Player to Watch”; Collegiate Baseball “Player to Watch”
• Josh Bard- The Sporting News All America Second Team; Collegiate Baseball All America Third Team; Baseball America “Player to Watch”; Collegiate Baseball “Player to Watch”; USA Baseball invitee
• Jason Landreth- Collegiate Baseball “Player to Watch”
• Monty Ward- Baseball America “Player to Watch”; Collegiate Baseball “Player to Watch”
• Brad Ralston- Collegiate Baseball “Player to Watch”
• Miles Durham- USA Baseball invitee
• Winning a game at Dan Law Field against head coach Larry Hays has been a difficult feat for opponents to accomplish. Hays boasts a 245-51 record in 11 seasons at Dan Law Field. Those victories give him an .828 winning percentage at the Raiders’ home field.
• Texas Tech is currently on a three-game losing streak after losing to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship, Southwest Texas State and Southwest Missouri State in succession. Even though Tech has occasionally gone on three-game losing streaks, the last time the Red Raiders have lost four games in a row was in 1992 (4/10-4/14, 3 games to TCU, one game to Lubbock Christian).
• Texas Tech is 26-23 all-time in season openers. Head coach Larry Hays is 6-5 in season openers. Opening games have proven to prove little as far as how the Raiders finish the season out. Last year, the Red Raiders lost 10-1 to Texas Christian at Dan Law Field but finished 46-14 on the season. In 1995, Tech lost a 6-3 decision at Arizona State but finished the season at 51-14.
NEED AN ANGLE TO COVER TEXAS TECH BASEBALL?
•Texas Tech Baseball: approaching 1,000 total victories and 50th year anniversary
The Texas Tech baseball program is approaching its 1,000th career victory. From the beginning of the season, Texas Tech needs only 33 more victories to surpass the 1,000-victory mark. Next year, the Texas Tech baseball program will celebrate its 50th year anniversary.
•Pitching staff only 8 deep with loss of righthander Chad Reynolds
Junior Chad Reynolds went down in the fall with a season-ending injury and several other pitchers transferred or graduated. Texas Tech added four new pitchers in Cade Allison, Eric Cooper, Jesse Cornejo and Steve Watkins. With four returning pitchers- Brad Ralston, Zach Stewart, Monty Ward and Shane Wright- that leaves Texas Tech with only eight pitchers, the fewest pitchers the Red Raiders have ever had since Anderson took over as pitching coach in 1991. How will the Red Raiders deal and manage with only eight pitchers? Here are the years and breakdown of how many pitchers each team had in the Anderson Era- 1991-12, 1992-11, 1993-11, 1994-12, 1995-12, 1996-12, 1997-10, 1998-8.
•Texas Tech and Speed
Ever since head coach Larry Hays inserted the turf infield at Dan Law Field to recruit speed to Texas Tech, the Red Raiders have been a quick crew. But this year’s team may have the best overall team speed a Red Raider squad has ever had. They’ll need to be quicker in order to fill the void left by power hitters Joe Dillon (33 home runs) and Brandon Toro (10 home runs). Hays and the players have talked about how much quicker the Red Raiders are this year, both on defense (especially in the outfield) and on the basepaths. Several of the 13 Texas Tech newcomers have outstanding speed. Among them are outfielders Ryan Ruiz (pronounced REESE) and Miles Durham. Both will help with team speed. Combine those two newcomers with three returning Raiders who stole over 10 bases last year- Ginter (29), Landreth (20) and Huth (14)- and the Red Raiders have a formidable “gang of thieves.”
•Outfielder Jason Landreth could be in for even bigger season...
Senior Jason Landreth is in his final season of collegiate baseball. It could be his best year yet. In comparing Landreth’s 1997 numbers to 1997 senior Joe Dillon’s 1996 statistics, the comparison is intriguing. Dillon broke out with a big year in 1997 after his 1996 season with 33 home runs, 89 RBI, a .939 slugging percentage and a .393 batting average. Dillon earned consensus All America honors. Landreth will probably be batting in the No. 3 spot, the same as Dillon last year. Could this be Landreth’s breakout year?
•The new catcher’s helmet Catchers Josh Bard and Brandon Buckley will be sporting a new catchers helmet in 1998. The black helmet has a red Red Raider logo and Double T on the top. It doesn’t look like a baseball catchers helmet, it looks like an aerodynamic hockey goalkeeper’s helmet. As far as weight goes, it is very light. How do the catchers (Bard and Buckley) feel about the new helmet? How does it compare to other helmets worn in the past? Is it easier to pull off when going for a foul ball?
•Keith Ginter and the pros Second baseman Keith Ginter had an amazing season last year in his first year at Texas Tech. But why didn’t he get drafted with those type of numbers? Most players who were drafted in the top two or three rounds would love to have those statistics. Is it size, politics, etc.? Again, two publications selected Ginter for Preseason All America honors. What is Keith hoping for this year?
•Chad Reynolds out for season Junior righthanded pitcher Chad Reynolds (Wolfforth, Texas) is out for the season with a shoulder injury. The injury required surgery in the fall. Reynolds has had time to think about the injury- about three months- and has developed an optimistic attitude about it. He figures that he has two years of eligibility remaining so he can return next year in top form. He did not play as a freshman because of an injury. The coaches were counting on Reynolds being a big part of the team’s pitching success in 1998. How much would Reynolds’ pitching been an impact on the season?
•USA Baseball experience and how it helped this year’s team Josh Bard, Monty Ward and head coach Larry Hays all played/coached with USA Baseball this summer. Bard will most likely play with the team again. How has that experience helped them in this season? How is the competition level different than in the United States and how is the game of baseball different? Other angles you can use with this one.
•Ward and Ralston: successful Lubbock pitching duo Junior pitchers Monty Ward and Brad Ralston both hail from Lubbock, Texas. They are best friends and roommates and pitched against each other at rival high schools. Both have been extremely successful while continuing their careers at Texas Tech. Ward has established himself as one of Texas Tech’s best all-time starters after two years. He ranks among the top-10 Red Raiders in winning percentage and strikeouts. Even though Ralston would rather be a starting pitcher, he has already broken the career saves record at Texas Tech after only two seasons. Other possible feature angles with this one.
•First base: how will Red Raiders replace Dillon- the hot corner Who will replace Joe Dillon at first base? Dillon hit 33 home runs and drove in 89 RBI as a senior last year. He had an incredible season? How will the Red Raiders replace such a long-ball threat. Tech has several players to accomplish that task. Freshman Scooter Martines is fresh out high school from Honolulu, Hawaii, junior Brandon Buckley may see action over at first when he’s not catching, sophomore Coastal Carolina transfer and lefthander Mark Austry is also competing for the position. Freshman David Tuley could also see playing time.
•Jose Alvarez, the starter at third base? In preseason, senior Jose Alvarez is the frontrunner to start at third base. Alvarez had a disappointing season last year after hitting only .241 in his first year at Texas Tech but could have an impact season at Texas Tech. He definitely has the ability. He batted .347 with six home runs, 32 RBI and 16 doubles as a freshman at Cerritos J.C. Could this be Alvarez’ year.
•Texas Tech-California pipeline Ten of Texas Tech’s players are from the state of California. How does Texas Tech recruit so many players from the Golden State?
•Duane Price plays two sports for Texas Tech, 1998 baseball season his last at Tech... Senior baseball/football player Duane Price is beginning his final season as an athlete at Texas Tech. The outfielder from College Station, Texas has had an outstanding two-sport career at Tech. How is he approaching his future without Texas Tech athletics? What are his plans for the future? How has playing two sports and balancing his homelife helped him at Texas Tech? What has he learned from his experience? What would he do differently?
•Red Raider Baseball Connections
-Cornejo-Wright: Jesse Cornejo (Wellington, Kansas) and Shane Wright pitched against each other three times for the Kansas Baseball State championships. They pitched against each other head-to-head two times in high school for the state championship and another time for the Junior College title. The pitching duo is roommates here at Texas Tech.
-Ginter-Rodriguez: Second baseman Keith Ginter and new transfer shortstop Junior Rodriguez both played middle infield for Cypress J.C. in California two years ago. The two led Cypress to some outstanding seasons in their two years. Ginter transferred after his second year to Texas Tech while Rodriguez still had one year to play at Cypress. The infield duo are roommates.
-Bard-Huth: Jason Huth and Josh Bard both played together at the same high school, Cherry Creek High School in Colorado. Bard and Huth won the Colorado State High School Championships together.
-Bard-Hays: Josh Bard’s brother Mike Bard coached as an assistant at Texas Tech for four years from 1992-95. Mike Bard is currently coaching at Texas Tech’s Big 12 rival Kansas as an assistant coach.
-Stewart-Ward-Ralston: Played for same Dallas Mustangs team that won Connie Mack World Series.
-Ralston-Ward: Juniors Brad Ralston and Monty Ward are both Lubbock natives. They pitched against each other in high school for four years and at rival schools- Ralston for Coronado and Ward for Monterey. They are also best friends off the field and roommates.
-Buckley-Cooper: Eric Cooper has made it quite clear why he transferred to Texas Tech. His major reason was because his catcher at Chabot J.C. during his freshman season, Brandon Buckley, is also a catcher at Texas Tech. Cooper claims that it was Buckley’s catching ability during his freshman season at Chabot that led him to a successful season and 1.50 ERA..
-Watkins-Hays: Sophomore transfer Steve Watkins played for head coach Larry Hays’ son, Shanon, at Lubbock Christian last year. He is the second player to transfer from Lubbock Christian in two years as Chris Shuffield completed that move last year. In fact, Watkins has the unique distinction of playing for three different members of the Hays family- Larry (at Texas Tech), Daren (at Lubbock Christian University) and Shanon (at Lubbock Christian High School).
-Smith-Ruiz: Outfielders Joe Smith and newly transfer Ryan Ruiz played together at El Toro High School.
•Texas Tech’s Pro Relative Connections
Cade Allison- brother Cody Allison played for Cleveland Indians; relative Bob Allison pitched for the Minnesota Twins; father Roy Allison played in the NFL for the Chicago Bears.
Mark Austry- father played professional baseball and brother Michael, played professional hockey.
Josh Bard- brother Mike coached with Larry Hays (1992-95), now coaches at Kansas.
Brandon Buckley- father played in Chicago Cubs minor league organization.
Brennan Burns- uncle Whip Walton played in the NFL for the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants between 1977 and 1983.
Jesse Cornejo- father played in the Major Leagues with the New York Mets in the 1970s and in the minor leagues for seven years.