KU Baseball Takes a Pair from Northwestern
March 6, 2009
LAWRENCE, Kan. –
Kansas used some clutch hitting and timely pitching to sweep a Friday doubleheader from Northwestern, 9-8 and 7-3 at Hoglund Ballpark. Robby Price, Buck Afenir and Casey Lytle all had a pair of hits for the Jayhawks in the second game of the twinbill to back the pitching of sophomore T.J. Walz.
The Jayhawks win their fourth straight and improve to 6-3 overall, while the Wildcats fall to 2-8 on the season.
Kansas used a pair of home runs – one conventional, one unconventional – to stake Walz to a five run lead in the nightcap.
In the bottom of the first, Robby Price hit a ball that bounced in front of a diving Quentin Williams and kicked into the left field corner for a two-run inside the park home run by the Kansas junior. It marked the first inside-the-park homer by a KU player since Gus Milner turned the trick in 2005.
Kansas added two more runs in the third inning on Buck Afenir’s first home run of the season. With Price on first after a lead-off single, Afenir tagged a fastball into the trees over the left field fence to give the Jayhawks a 4-0 lead.
That was more than enough support for Walz, who retired the first 10 men he faced before Tommy Finn’s one out single in the top of the fourth. Walz exited the game after Northwestern scored two runs in the fifth inning. The sophomore scattered six hits over five innings with one walk and six strikeouts.
Leading 5-2 in the seventh, Kansas tacked on a pair of insurance runs as Tony Thompson extended his hitting streak to 18 straight games with a double to left field. The Kansas third baseman’s 18-game run, which includes the final nine games of last season and the first nine of this season, is tied for the fifth-longest in school history. It is also the longest hitting streak by a Jayhawk since Jared Schweitzer set the Kansas record by hitting safely in 24 straight games.
After Walz left prior to the sixth, freshmen Kevin Burk and Colton Murray came on to shut the door, and allowed just one run on one hit over the final four innings.
Kansas needed a five-run rally to earn the victory in game one of the doubleheader.
Trailing 8-4 going into the bottom of the eighth, KU sent nine men to the plate, scoring five times. The Jayhawks scored the tying run on an error and the go-ahead run on a passed ball.
With two outs in the eighth, freshman Jake Marasco put runners on first and second when he reached first on a wild pitch strikeout. Pinch hitter Buck Afenir loaded the bases by wearing a pitch, setting the stage for freshman Zac Elgie.
Elgie had the only hit of the inning, a two-strike single to left which brought Kansas within 8-5. Center fielder Nick Faunce then forced in KU’s sixth run by drawing a bases loaded walk.
With two outs, Brian Heere hit a ground ball to second that was bobbled and thrown wide of first base allowing the tying runs to score. Just three pitches later, KU took the lead on a passed ball.
Brett Bochy picked up the win in relief of starting pitcher Shaeffer Hall, while Paul Smyth pitched a perfect ninth for his second save of the season.
Hall took a no-decision despite pitching well enough to win for a second straight start. The junior lefty went 7 1/3 innings and allowed five runs on seven hits, however, four of those runs were unearned. Hall walked one and fanned six.
The freshman tandem of Marasco and Elgie combined to go 4-for-8 with a pair of RBIs, while shortstop David Narodowski had two hits and scored three runs.
Kansas will return to action Saturday when it hosts Northwestern in the third game of the four-game set at Hoglund Ballpark. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m.