Utah Long Ball Stuns Jayhawks, 5-1

Final Box (.pdf) | Notes (.pdf)

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Sophomore right hander Sean Rackoski’s career day on the bump wasn’t enough, as the Kansas baseball team dropped game two of the series to Utah, Saturday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark. Rackoski (0-2) tossed a career-high six and one-third innings for the Jayhawks (6-9) and allowed two runs off three hits.

However, late-inning long balls by the Utes’ (3-11) bats and a complete game from hurler Dalton Carroll (2-2) held KU at bay and knotted the series up with one win a piece.

“I think it was all Carroll today,” head coach Ritch Price said. “He was 92-94 MPH all day and we weren’t able to get his pitch count up enough to get him out of the game. I compliment him – he threw first pitch strike to almost every single hitter that went up there.”

Six different players recorded at least one hit, with senior left fielder Connor McKay scoring the Jayhawks’ lone run off a booted ball by Utah shortstop Cody Scaggari. The quality start by Rackoski gave KU a chance, but a three-run bomb in the eighth off the Kansas bullpen knocked the game out of reach.

“It was a step forward for Rackoski,” Price said. “This is the deepest he has pitched into a game. He gave us a good performance and we look forward to him getting better each week.”

Goose eggs filled the scoreboard for the quiet Jayhawk bats as their offense failed to get things going throughout most of the game. Kansas mustered a run after McKay delivered the first base-knock of the game with a single to left center. Sophomore catcher Michael Tinsley did his part to advance McKay to second with a sacrifice bunt and senior first baseman Blair Beck followed with a single to short. It was the fielding error after the base hit by Scaggari that allowed McKay to score and give KU the early lead, 1-0.

Rackoski matched the effort for Carroll through the first five innings, holding the Utes scoreless until a solo shot in the sixth broke open the scoring for Utah to tie the game up, 1-1.

“Week-by-week, I’m starting to get into a rhythm,” Rackoski said. “I’m starting to get things worked out mechanically and delivery wise. I’m becoming more comfortable on the mound.”

The top-notch performance by Rackoski was the best seen by any pitcher this season. The righty allowed just three hits and two runs in a career high six and one-third innings pitched; his previous record was four and one-third innings pitched. 

“His command was better and he was able to mix his breaking ball,” Price said. “As a result, he was able to get into the seventh inning and I think it was a huge step for him.”

A KU pitching change in the seventh brought junior righty Sam Gilbert in for relief for Rackoski who had been the bright spot on the day for the Jayhawks with the struggle offense. The Utes capitalized off of Gilbert with two hits and one run, taking the lead 2-1 in the top of the seventh. 

The seventh inning proved to be the same ol’ song and dance for the struggling Kansas offense as it had two hits and no runs stranding two runners on first and second.
Another pitching change in the eighth for the brought in senior righty Colin Toalson to the bump only to give up a three-run bomb to Scaggari to left field in the top of the eighth to give Utah the momentum and the lead, 5-1, and close the door on a KU comeback.

Kansas returns to the field for game three, a Sunday rubber-match between the two squads. First pitch is slated for 1 p.m. and can be seen live on ESPN3. Fans can also tune into a live audio broadcast on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio.

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