The series finale is Sunday during Middle Tennessee’s Senior Day. First pitch is set for a noon CT/11 a.m. MT start.
LUBBOCK, Texas – Cortney Smith connected on two more home runs and Kaitlin Ryder hit her first long ball of 2017, but it wasn’t enough as UTEP fell, 7-5, to Wichita State in the early game and Texas Tech, 12-4 , in the late game on a windy Saturday at Rocky Johnson Field.
The Miners (3-14) recorded 20 hits (.370 avg.) on the day, while Smith and Ryder each tallied three RBI. The Orange and Blue also registered eight extra base hits as Kiki Pepi, Pamala Baber, Courtney Clayton and Smith each had doubles and Ryder raced out a triple.
UTEP’s rally against Wichita State fell short. After the Shockers took a 7-0 lead, the Miners answered with five runs of their own. Texas Tech took a 9-1 lead, but the Miners showed some fight to get within five runs. But UTEP pitchers struggled, walking nine batters on the day and only striking out one.
UTEP 5, Wichita State 7
The Shockers took a commanding 7-0 lead after a two-run top fourth inning. The Miners, however, made a contest into it as Smith crushed her fifth dinger on the season on a 0-1 pitch over left in the bottom fourth and Kaitlin Ryder connected on her first long ball of the season, a two-run shot over left center in the sixth inning to make the score 7-3.
To keep momentum going, Mallorie Cross was hit by a pitch and Pamala Baber came up with a single to center, setting up Bryanna Molina in a pinch-hit situation. Molina was patient at the plate to draw a 3-1 count, but Baber was picked off at first to end the sixth.
Wichita State would get a pair of runners on in the top seventh on a double by Kennedy Long and Katie Malone being hit by a pitch. But Taylor Grohmann threw a solid 3.0 frames, while she forced a pop out to second, a fly out to left and a fly out to center to keep the score within four runs.
In the bottom seventh, Taylor Sargent led off with a single to center and Clayton connected on a one-out single to right. After the Shockers recorded another out, Smith came up with an RBI double to deep center that plated Sargent.
Clayton made it to third base on Smith’s knock and would eventually cross the dish on a wild pitch to make the score 7-5; Smith advanced to third. Pepi followed with a walk on a 3-1 pitch to put runners at the corners, while Brianna Red was inserted as a pinch runner for Pepi. But Ryder struck swinging out to end the contest on a 2-2 pitch.
The Miners recorded 10 hits, in which six were tallied in the last two innings. Smith finished 2-for-4 and Pepi went 2-for-3 with a run scored. Freshman Macey Brown made her first collegiate start, registering three putouts at first base.
UTEP 4, Texas Tech 12 
The Red Raiders scored six runs in the first inning and another three in the third inning to take a 9-1 lead. Clayton used her first double of 2017 to plate Baber in the top third for the Miners’ first run of the contest. Baber led off the third with her second double of the season.
UTEP would cut the deficit to 9-4 in the fourth after Smith crushed her sixth homer of the season over left center, Ryder tripled in Pepi and Cross singled in Ryder. Cross recorded her second career RBI. The Miners tried to keep the rally going, as Baber reached on a fielder’s choice (Cross was thrown out at second), Taylor Sargent singled, advanced to second, but Baber was thrown out at third for the second out.
Transfer sophomore Brianna Red recorded her first hit in a UTEP uniform, advancing Sargent to third. But Clayton flied out to the catcher in the foul territory to end the top fourth.
The Red Raiders would score two more in the home fourth and Kassidy Scott hit a walk-off solo home run to run rule the Miners in six frames.
UTEP tallied 10 more hits, as Smith led the way on a 2-for-3 effort.
UTEP will conclude the Texas Tech Invitational against Wichita State on Sunday morning with first pitch scheduled at 10:30 a.m. CT.