Comes up big down the stretch of college baseball season
Things couldn’t have turned out better for Bryce Bonnin.
The Barbers Hill alum from 2017 made his way to the University of Arkansas in hopes of continuing his baseball playing journey for one of the best teams in the SEC for the sport at the NCAA Division I level.
Things didn’t go as planned and Bonnin found his way to Lubbock and a new home at Texas Tech.
Home sweet home for that matter.
Bonnin’s sophomore season would end up being a breakout one as he helped push the Red Raiders into the College World Series where they would ultimately finish in the top four nationally and one win short of the national championship series.
“It was great, it was fun, but the ending wasn’t that fun,” Bonnin said. “I had a great time with the best team I could ask for. You want to win the whole thing; you don’t want a participation trophy. We just came up short. It happens. It’s baseball.
“We lost a lot of great guys, but we have a lot coming back and a lot coming in, so I am really looking forward to next year.”
Tech pitching coach Matt Gardner saw Bonnin elevate his game as the season wore on. Bonnin finished 7-1 with 15 appearances including 13 starts. He finished with a 4.08 ERA in 64 innings with 65 strikeouts while giving up only one homer despite throwing high heat.
“Bryce really came into his own and that was our plan to run him out there on Tuesdays,” Gardner said. “We were very fortunate to run a guy like him out on Tuesday because his stuff is going to be better than most anybody in the country – throwing 94 to 97 miles per hour with a hard slider. He had a good opportunity to get out there to pitch. The more command he had the more of a pitcher he became.
“His growth was mentally and physically pretty good and we saw it heading in that direction.”
The direction ended up where Bonnin was becoming a Red Raider leader.
“He has always been a big-time competitor,” Gardner said. “He was probably our best starter down the stretch. The last month and a half was pretty special. He beats TCU to help us win the Big 12 title. He beats Dallas Baptist to win the regional. Then he beats Oklahoma State to win the super regional. Then he beats Florida State in the World Series. His last four starts were a pretty big deal.
“Next year he has an opportunity to pitch game one of series and we expect him to pitch on the weekends and be really good.”
Tech didn’t recruit Bonnin coming out of high school since the Barbers Hill pitcher had committed early to Arkansas. But they were a part of the mix once he was leaving Fayetteville.
“Their recruiting coordinator knew about me and when he heard I wasn’t going back to Arkansas, the next morning after that came out I had a voice mail from him,” Bonnin said. “I went there and fell in love with it.”
Considering that he was essentially cut from the Arkansas program, Bonnin’s landing and end result of his first year in Lubbock couldn’t have been any better.
“I thought I was going to go to a JUCO, but Tech brought me on board, and I was able to play,” Bonnin said. “A teammate, he did the same thing, he transferred from Arkansas and now he is at Tech.”
That teammate, Easton Murrell, hit a key homerun in a win against Arkansas at the World Series that kept Tech alive while eliminating the Razorbacks.
“I was excited to beat them, but I really lost it when Easton hit the home run to tie the game,” Bonnin said. “They did him the same way and handled his situation just like mine. For it to come full circle was just awesome.”
Bonnin and Murrell were essentially removed from the Arkansas program a month before school started while essentially battling some physical ailments, according to Bonnin.
Bonnin essentially left a disconnected atmosphere at Arkansas while finding what he really needed with the Red Raiders.
“I wouldn’t change a thing,” Bonnin said. “I love Tech. I love my teammates. I love my coaches. I love the school. I love Lubbock. There is something about Lubbock and Tech that is very different. We are very close as a team and we care for each other. We are always doing something together.
“It worked out for me.”