Seven-Run Eighth Lifts Jayhawks Past Nevada, 11-4
Feb. 15, 2013
MESA, Ariz. – Senior shortstop Kevin Kuntz went 3-for-5, including a two-run single that highlighted a seven-run eighth inning as Kansas routed Nevada, 11-4 in its season-opener Friday afternoon at Hohokam Park.
Kansas used the big inning to break open a 4-4 tie in the eighth inning.
Sophomore Dakota Smith collected the go-ahead RBI with a single to center field after junior Tucker Tharp and senior Alex DeLeon reached base ahead of him. After a walk to sophomore Michael Suiter, freshman Jacob Boylan gave KU a 6-4 lead with a base hit through the left side of the infield.
The Jayhawks were just getting started. Junior Ka’iana Eldredge drew a bases loaded walk to force in KU’s seventh run of the game, setting the stage for Kuntz’s one-out single to right-center that plated Suiter and pinch runner Joe Luvisi.
Senior Jordan Dreiling drove in KU’s sixth run of the inning with his second double of the afternoon, while Kuntz capped the rally by scoring on an errant throw back to the pitcher during Tharp’s second at bat of the nightmare inning for the Wolf Pack.
All told, the Jayhawks sent 11 men to the plate to score seven runs on five hits with the help of a walk and a hit by pitch.
Sophomore Robert Kahana was the beneficiary of the run support. After entering the game in the top of the eighth with the score tied at four, Kahana stranded runners on first and second by inducing a fly out off the bat of Nevada catcher Ryan Teel to keep the game tied. The second-year righty clinched his first victory of the season by setting the Wolf Pack down in order in the ninth.
Junior right-handed pitcher Frank Duncan pitched six innings and allowed three earned runs on eight hits with two walks and five strikeouts. He looked dominant early, retiring nine of the first 10 men he faced, but ran into trouble in the fourth inning.
Nevada erased an early 3-0 deficit with three runs of their own in the fourth, collecting five hits off the Jayhawk starter. Brad Gerig delivered the big blow, a two-run double into the left field corner, while Scott Kaplan’s RBI single tied the game at three.
The Wolf Pack took the lead in the sixth inning on a passed ball, which essentially ended Duncan’s day. However, KU tied the game again on a clutch two-out RBI single by Suiter.
Kuntz led the offensive effort with three hits, two RBIs and a stolen base, while Suiter and Dreiling each collected two hits and combined for three runs batted in.
Freshman Tyler Watson made his Kansas debut, pitching in relief of Duncan in the seventh and eighth, and retired all four men he faced.
The Jayhawks’ seven-run inning was their biggest since an eight-run second inning against Minnesota on March 10 of last season, while the team’s 11 runs scored were its highest since May 1, 2012 at UALR.
The Jayhawks start the 2013 season with a victory, marking the seventh time KU has won on opening day under head coach Ritch Price and for the second year in a row.
The teams will meet again on Saturday in game two of the four-game series at Hohokam Park. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m. CST.
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