The harsh winds whipped through UFCU Disch-Falk field as Texas pitcher Pat McCrory stood on the mound. The lights in the stadium went dead with one out remaining and the rains soon followed. The game was officially suspended until Saturday, when the final out will be played just prior to the second game of the series, which starts at 2 p.m.
In a game where the fans were looking for a record-setter from right fielder Kyle Russell, the best performance came from another Russell.
Junior left hander James Russell, whose record will move to 8-2 when the game officially ends, pitched six and two-thirds strong innings for the Longhorns, striking out a career best 11 Texas Tech batters while giving up two earned on nine hits.
“I think that always helps to have your pitcher stay in a comfort zone,” Texas head coach Augie Garrido told Inside Texas in the Texas dugout as the rain poured down. “(James Russell) battled in a couple of innings, but he stayed in his comfort zone.”
Kyle Russell, currently tied with the Texas single-season homerun record at 20, did not homer on Friday night, but first baseman Chance Wheeless went 2-for-5 with one RBI to extend his hitting streak to 16 games, putting him 10th all-time at Texas.
“This is crazy,” said Kyle Russell as he watched the rain fall. “But it’s a great way to start the series. The bats were really working and the pitching was great.”
Barring the greatest comeback in the history of baseball, the No. 6 Longhorns will remain atop the Big 12 with a 10-3 conference record and 29-10 overall. Texas Tech would fall to 22-14 and 5-7 in the Big 12.
Texas jumped out to a 4-0 lead early in the ball game off a Bradley Suttle RBI single in the first and three runs in the second thanks to RBI from Preston Clark, Jordan Danks and Wheeless. James Russell was dialed in from the start, striking out the side in the top of the first and keeping the Red Raiders scoreless until the top of the third, when Texas Tech scored on a Kyle Martin RBI single. The Longhorns still led 4-1 and extended their lead to 5-1 on a homerun from Suttle in the bottom half of the inning.
Of course, you wouldn’t know it if you just showed up to the ballpark at this point, as a scoreboard malfunction caused a temporary delay in the action. The game continued despite the display issues, which lasted into the fourth inning as stadium staff struggled to get the proper score to show up. During the third inning and on into the fourth, the board was restarted a number of times and the scores displayed as follows: 5-0 Texas Tech, 5-4 Texas Tech, 4-0 Texas, 1-1 tie, 1-0 Texas Tech, 1-0 Texas, 1-0 Texas, 1-1 tie, 5-1 Texas (correct score, but all the runs were in the wrong inning), 5-2 Texas and finally the correct score of 5-1 with the runs in the proper places, evoking cheers from the Texas fans in attendance.
Texas Tech picked up another run in the top of the fifth on a solo shot from Roger Kieschnick, but the Longhorns answered with two more in the bottom half of the inning to take their lead out to 7-2.
The score remained scoreless the rest of the way as Keith Shinaberry and Pat McCrory came on in relief of James Russell to finish out the game, which ended one out short as a large thunderstorm arrived in Austin.
The Longhorns’ will finish the game against Tech is at 2 p.m. on Saturday and then play the second game of the series. Texas will send staff ace Adrian Alaniz (8-2, 2.41 ERA) to the mound to face Texas Tech’s Josh Scofield (0-1, 6.23 ERA).