Photos Courtesy of John Wearth

LUBBOCK, Tex.  --   In baseball, a pitch or two can make all the difference, and that was certainly the case in the University of Delaware's NCAA Baseball Tournament 5-2 setback to fifth ranked Texas Tech Friday afternoon at Rip Griffin Park.

In the sixth inning, with Delaware runners on first and second base, nobody out, and the Hens trailing just 3-2, Blue Hen shortstop Jeremy Ake (below left) rocketed a line drive in the direction of third base.

Texas Tech third baseman Josh Jung snared the line-drive and had the mental aptitude to lightly toss the ball in the direction of second base. Red Raiders infielder Brian Klein calmly caught it and tagged the base for a double play. 

Two innings later, Orlando Garcia belted a two-run homer to leftfield to push the Red Raider lead to 5-2 and put the game away.

“This was a heck of a ballgame,” said Delaware head coach Jim Sherman. “Almost 300 (275) pitches in that game and it really came down to two of them. Ake smoked that ball down to third and if he doesn't catch it, it probably goes down to the corner and we tie the game up. That might have deflated us a little bit. Then we pitch that hanging breaking ball to Garcia and he hits it out. Other than that, I thought we played well. Ronny (Marinaccio) pitched well. I tip my hat to Texas Tech. It was a good college baseball game.”

The Colonial Athletic Association champion Blue Hens (34-22) held the No. 6/5 ranked Red Raiders to just four hits over the first seven inning thanks to an impressive outing by starter Marinaccio, but the offense hit into some bad luck time and time again and the result was just their second loss in the last 12 outings.

Delaware, appearing in the NCAA Regionals for the first time since 2001 but for the 17th time overall, will now look to regroup and advance in the double elimination tournament on Saturday at 3 p.m. (EST) when the Hens face #16 ranked and No. 2 seed Arizona.

The Hens have not lost consecutive games since the first week of May.

Texas Tech (44-15), the two-time defending Big 12 regular season champions and a 2016 College World Series participant, advanced to the winner's bracket game Saturday at 7 p.m. The Red Raiders won at home for the sixth straight time and improved to 24-5 on their home turf this spring.

Playing before a raucous sellout crowd and shaking off a 90 minute weather delay, the Blue Hens held their own and then some. Delaware trailed just 3-2 in the sixth inning before Ake was robbed on the sharp liner, just one pitch after he showed bunt. Texas Tech then pulled off the pivotal double play and Hen designated hitter Doug Trimble struck out to end the threat.

The Red Raiders then got some breathing room in the eighth when Garcia went deep off UD reliever Burk FitzPatrick to push the lead to 5-2.

Marinaccio, the Hens' starter-turned-closer-turned starter, was outstanding once again. He came back out after the weather delay in the second inning and didn't skip a beat, battling for 6.1 innings and allowing just four hits and three earned runs.

He entered the game having gone 4-1 with an 0.92 ERA over 38 innings in his previous seven starts.

After setting down the side in the first inning, he found some trouble in the second inning after the delay and allowed two runs as he walked two batters and hit another to bring in a run.

“I felt good coming back (out of the delay),” said Marinaccio, a junior who was a starter in 2016, moved to the bullpen to start the 2017 season, and then rejoined the rotation due to an injury to ace left-hander Brandon Walter at mid-season. “My arm was fine but I struggled with the zone a little bit.”

After going down 2-0, the Hens finally got on the board in the fourth inning on an RBI groundout by Trimble to cut the lead to 2-1. The Red Raiders then got it back in the bottom half and went up 3-1 on a fielder's choice by Cody Farhat.

Delaware got closer once again in that pivotal fifth, pulling to within 3-2 on Nick Patten's RBI single to the left side to put runners on first and second. Ake then delivered his rocket shot that unfortunately found the glove of Jung.

“Like Coach Sherman said, a couple of plays go the opposite way and its the difference in the game,” said Delaware All-CAA outfielder Jordan Glover, who delivered two hits and stole two bases in the game to up his league-leading total to 22 in 23 attempts. “Both teams played well but it just came down to those little plays that could have gone either way. We just needed to get some hits in some spots but when you face good pitching, you know its going to be a battle.”

The Blue Hens return to action against 16th-ranked Arizona in an elimination game Saturday at 3PM EST.

 • Delaware falls to 1-9 this season when scoring two runs or fewer in a game and to 10-14 when the opponent scores first
• The Blue Hens recorded less than eight hits for the first time since May 7 against North Carolina State
Calvin Scott (above left) reached base for a team-high 26th consecutive game
• Glover has reached base in 15 consecutive games
• Delaware was appearing in the NCAA Tournament for the first time since going 1-2 at Ohio State in 2001
• Delaware is playing in the state of Texas for only the second time in school history and for the first time since 2012
• Hens were looking for their first win over a Top 10 team since downing #9 Arizona State in 2011

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