Hugo, Kansas Walk Off Against No. 21/14 Baylor, 6-5
April 27, 2013
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Alex Hugo erased Baylor’s four-run rally just two pitches into the bottom of the seventh. Her second home run of the game powered Kansas to a 6-5 walk-off victory, tying the series with Baylor Saturday afternoon at Arrocha Ballpark.
The offense Kansas (30-14, 5-6) needed in game one was unleashed in game two. Hugo put the Jayhawks on the board with a solo homer in the bottom of the third and junior second baseman Ashley Newman piled onto the lead with a bases-clearing triple in the fourth to catapult Kansas to a 4-0 advantage.
After No. 21/14 Baylor (36-13, 7-6) scored a run in the fifth, KU immediately answered with a solo home run by freshman Chaley Brickey to all but seal the game with three outs remaining – but Baylor responded.
When a two-out error lengthened the inning and allowed a run to score in the top of the seventh, the nationally-ranked Bears predictably took advantage. Trailing 5-2, left fielder Linsey Hays drilled a three-run homer to turn a game the Jayhawks had controlled throughout into a tied contest, 5-5.
Hugo wouldn’t give the Bears much time to celebrate. She saw one pitch in the bottom of the seventh before turning on the next one and sending a no-doubt blast over the scoreboard in left field.
“We had confidence that our team was going to pull it out, number one, but when she steps up I always have confidence that she’s going to do something special,” head coach Megan Smith said of Hugo. “My goodness that was unbelievable.”
The walk-off win gives Kansas (30-14, 5-6) three-consecutive 30-win seasons in Smith’s four years and gives KU at least one upset over a top-25 team in each of her seasons.
Hugo’s pair of home runs led the offense and broke the KU freshman hit record in the process. The Olathe, Kan., native entered the weekend with 58 hits and her three total in Saturday’s doubleheader moved her past former Jayhawk Shelly Musser (59, 1999) for the most all-time by a KU rookie.
Freshman shortstop Chaley Brickey also enjoyed a big day at the plate, cranking a home run in each game, while robbing speedy Baylor runners of base hits to the hole at short.
In the circle, fellow rookie Kelsey Kessler (8-5) went the distance by giving up five runs, only one earned, in the win. Until the Bears’ four-run rally in the top of the seventh, Kessler had allowed only seven hits and one walk over six innings.
“Our freshmen looked good today,” Smith said. “That’s a great thing. I’ve got to smile when I say that. All three of them did extremely well today and we’re very proud of them.”
The freshmen weren’t the only ones playing well in game two.
After suffering a 6-1 loss to the Bears in the series opener, the Jayhawks needed to set the tone early in the nightcap. Newman did exactly that, slamming her three-run triple to the left field wall in the bottom of the fourth and providing run support that proved to be crucial.
“Coach always says, don’t wait for somebody else to do it. Step up and do it,” Newman said. “At that time, I was thinking `I want to do it, I’m going to do it.’ So I went with that and it was great.”
In addition, sophomore right fielder Cassen Salamone went 2-for-2, while fellow outfielders Maggie Hull and Alex Jones tracked down eight fly balls combined.
Baylor’s freshman starter Heather Stearns was replaced by Courtney Repka (5-2) following Newman’s triple. Although Stearns was charged with four runs in her 3.1 innings, Repka gave up the home runs to Brickey and Hugo to take the loss.
Hays led the Baylor offense, going 3-for-4 with three RBIs. Right fielder Kaitlyn Thumann and third baseman Sarah Smith each posted two hits apiece.
Kansas and Baylor will decide the series on Sunday at noon. The weekend finale also marks the Jayhawks for a Cure Orange Game event to honor fighters, survivors and victims of kidney cancer, including Paul Buske, the late husband of head coach Megan Smith. Fans wearing orange will be admitted for $3.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.