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No. 8 Red Raiders Beat Kansas State to Begin Big 12 Championship Run

A career-best outing from starter Mason Molina paced No. 8 Texas Tech on Wednesday
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The No. 8 Texas Tech Red Raiders won their opening game in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship 5-3 over Kansas State on Wednesday at Globe Life Field. It's Tech's third-straight opening-round win in the Big 12 Championship.

The story for the Red Raiders was freshman starting pitcher Mason Molina as his career-best outing came at the most opportune time. The left-hander struck out 10 Wildcats and didn't allow a hit until there was one out in the seventh inning.

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Tech head coach Tim Tadlock said Molina's pitches were located perfectly. "He pitched ahead in the count," Tadlock said after the game. "It was strike one for most of the day. He was ahead of most hitters. He commanded the fastball and both off-speed pitches. He's always had mound presence, but when he pitches ahead in the count it makes it tough on guys."

But the Tech offense was not to be outshined and offered instant run support for Molina by scoring three runs in the second inning. Kurt Wilson started the second with a double, followed by base hits by Hudson White and Parker Kelly that plated three runs thanks to a pair of Wildcat fielding errors. 

The Red Raiders almost broke the game open in the fifth inning with a two-out rally as Easton Murrell and Cole Stilwell each singled and Jace Jung was intentionally walked. But Ty Coleman's team-best 20-game on-base streak was ended as he flied out.

Tech's offense made up for it in the sixth inning as Dillon Carter hit a two-out triple with Wilson and Kelly on base for a 5-0 lead.

"Again, our focus needs to be getting a little bit better each day and respecting the game," Tadlock said. "We know Oklahoma and West Virginia are playing at a high level. I think West Virginia just beat the team we just played. We just played Oklahoma. So, we know we have our work cut out for us. We have to show up and play tomorrow."

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Molina retired 18 of the first 19 batters over the first six innings and allowed just one walk. Molina allowed a leadoff walk in the seventh before allowing his first hit of the game, a double. He then allowed an RBI single before his 10th strikeout. But with two outs, the Wildcats hit a bases-clearing double that ended Molina's night.

Andrew Devine, Derek Bridges, and Austin Becker finished the game on the mound to earn the Red Raiders' win in the opening game of the championship.

Next up for the Red Raiders is the winner's bracket game Thursday at 7:30 p.m. against Oklahoma.

You can follow Timm Hamm on Twitter at @IndyCarTim

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