Kansas Heats Up Late to Down Baker, 8-0
May 1, 2013
LAWRENCE, Kan. – A two-run shot off the bat of Alex DeLeon easily cleared the centerfield wall and sealed a late offensive surge that powered Kansas past Baker, 8-0, at Hoglund Ballpark Wednesday night.
Predicted inclement weather caused Kansas (27-18) and Baker (6-39) to move the originally-scheduled 6 p.m. game time to 4:40 p.m., avoiding the storms forecasted for Wednesday evening. Both teams stayed scoreless through the first five innings, but the Jayhawk offense caught up to the advanced start time by the bottom of the sixth.
The Jayhawks broke the scoreless tie that made for a quick first half of the game with two runs in the sixth and three in the seventh and three more in the eighth to back a solid start for senior Tanner Poppe (3-3).
Poppe was rolling out of the gate, cruising to a 1-2-3 inning in the top of the first and nabbing a sharp groundball behind his back in the second to kick off his stellar outing. He sat the Wildcats in order five different times in his seven innings of work, surrendering just one hit. The senior right-hander struck out seven, walked none and used only 70 pitches to earn the victory.
DeLeon was the driving force behind Poppe’s offensive support, going 3-for-5 with three RBIs. His RBI double in the seventh broke up the shutout and his no-doubt homer to center brought the game to its final score, 8-0.
Freshman first baseman Marcus Wheeler also posted a successful day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with two RBIs. The Jayhawks got two hits apiece from sophomore left fielder Michael Suiter and senior shortstop Kevin Kuntz, as well.
In the opposing dugout, sophomore starter Caleb Lee (1-7) took the loss. The first two runs of the game were charged to him after he kept KU scoreless through the first five innings. At the plate, junior right fielder Brett Lechien was all that stood between Poppe and a no-hitter as he led off the fourth with the Wildcats’ only hit.
DeLeon and fellow senior Jordan Dreiling collected back-to-back singles in the bottom of the second for the first hits of the game. The Jayhawks put two more on in the third and loaded the bases in the fourth, but sent the game to the fifth still scoreless.
After shortstop Kevin Kuntz led off the bottom of the fifth with a single, a wild pitch and a groundout to the right side moved him to third looking to break the 0-0 tie. Baker’s defense stepped up as second baseman Tevin Thompson ran down a fly ball in foul territory. When Kuntz tagged and took off for home, Thompson turned and threw him out at home for the double play that ended the inning.
Patiently waiting for his offense to back him up, Poppe answered with a 1-2-3 top of the sixth to send the Jayhawks back to the plate to break up the shutout. Dreiling got it started, drawing a leadoff walk and was immediately joined by right fielder Connor McKay’s base hit. A well-executed sac bunt moved the pair into scoring position, leaving Wheeler the opportunity to break the scoring drought.
Wheeler’s double clung to the left field line, driving home Dreiling and McKay to hand the Jayhawks the 2-0 lead. Relief pitcher Ryan Lasneske came in and recorded the next two outs to end the inning, but Kansas was right back at it in the seventh.
DeLeon slammed a double off the right field wall to drive in a run and McKay added an RBI single to push KU’s lead to 5-0 by the end of the seventh. With two outs against them in the eighth, the Jayhawks put together one last offensive display thanks to an RBI double from Suiter and DeLeon’s blast to end the evening’s scoring.
Colin Toalson and Jordan Luvisi teamed up for a 1-2-3 ninth inning to seal the 8-0 victory and give the Jayhawks their eighth shutout of the season, one shy of the program’s single season mark.
The Jayhawks stay in town to host a three-game series against the Baylor Bears, May 3-5.
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