Texas Tech rolls past New Mexico State, 9-2, at Lubbock Regional

Zach Rheams smashed a two-run homer in a three-run first inning Friday afternoon, and the Texas Tech Red Raiders rolled to an easy 9-2 victory over New Mexico State in the NCAA Lubbock Regional.

It was the team-leading 14th home run of the season for Rheams, a senior from Brazoswood.

“That was huge,” said San Antonio’s Josh Jung, a Texas Tech infielder. “Rheams hitting that home run really helped us settle in, just have fun. You can come into these games a little antsy, a little back on your heels, but with that home run, it got us going.”

With the victory in the tournament opener, Tech remains in the winners’ bracket and will play Saturday against either Louisville or Kent State.

Asked if he felt any sense of relief as the top seed in the regional to win the first game, Jung brushed off that suggestion, saying, “I wouldn’t say it’s a sense of relief.

“We came in here pretty confident we were going to get after it today,” he said. “Just get through the first round, put up a good game like we did today, to get going, get it rolling.”

Caleb Kilian (8-1 2.30) is scheduled to start on the mound for the Red Raiders on Saturday.

Against New Mexico State, Tech suffered some adversity early when starting pitcher Dylan Dusek had to come out after two innings because of a blister on his throwing hand.

Ryan Shetter came in to relieve starting in the third.

After getting two out, he gave up a solo home run to Joey Ortiz, cutting the Tech lead to 3-1.

But he settled down to keep the Aggies scoreless on two hits the rest of the way in his five-inning stint.

The Red Raiders scored two more runs in the third, pushing the lead to 5-1. The No. 1 seeds and tournament hosts were never seriously threatened again.

San Antonio’s Josh Jung figured into Tech outbursts in both the first and third innings.

Jung, a sophomore from MacArthur who entered the game batting .381, singled and scored in both innings.

Connor Queen, a sophomore from Boerne, also figured into Tech’s victory. He pitched two innings scoreless innings to close the game.

Queen, Tech’s fourth pitcher of the day, yielded three straight singles in the eighth but he got out of a bases-loaded jam with a double-play ground ball.