Big Eighth Inning Helps Price Collect 200th Win

May 2, 2008

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Catcher Buck Afenir picked a good time to collect his only hit of the night Friday. The junior backstop collected a two-out single in the bottom of the eighth inning to plate the go-ahead runs as Kansas rallied from a six-run deficit to knock off Oklahoma, 17-15, Friday evening at Hoglund Ballpark.<?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

The win was a historic one for Kansas head coach Ritch Price. The sixth-year skipper picked up his 200th victory with the Jayhawks, becoming the third coach to reach that plateau at KU.

Price’s team improved to 27-22 overall and 6-13 in the Big 12, while OU falls to 29-18-1 and 6-12-1 in conference play. With KU’s win and K-State’s loss at Missouri Friday, the Jayhawks move into an eighth-place tie in the Big 12 standings with the Wildcats and sit one-half game behind the Sooners.

Friday night was a memorable one for both teams as KU and Oklahoma combined for 32 runs, the most in a Big 12 game involving Kansas since a 1998 meeting with Oklahoma State.

Afenir capped a six-run rally by the Jayhawks in the eighth, singling in Casey Larson and John Allman with two outs. Trailing by four run entering the inning, the Jayhawks rallied to tie the game on a two-run double by Jimmy Waters, an RBI double by Larson and an RBI ground out by Robby Price to tie the game. After John Allman walked and moved to second on a wild pitch, Afenir delivered the final blow with a single to center to give KU a two-run cushion.

The ninth inning wasn’t without drama, however. After Paul Smyth retired the first two hitters routinely, Mike Gosse kept OU’s hopes alive with a double to right field. After working the count to 2-2, Sooner first baseman Aaron Baker hammered a fly ball to center field which defensive replacement Nick Faunce caught on the warning track to end the game.

The Jayhawks erased a four-run deficit in their half of the eighth inning and ultimately, a six-run deficit after 4 ½ innings. On the strength of a Spencer Selby grand slam, and a seven-run fifth inning, Oklahoma took an 11-5 lead into the bottom of the fifth.

However, KU fought back. Freshman Tony Thompson – one of three Jayhawks with three hits in the game – homered to left center with Preston Land on first to cut the deficit to 11-7. After OU scored a run in the sixth, KU crawled back to within one on a three-run homer by Waters and an RBI triple by Larson.

Oklahoma scored three runs off the Kansas bullpen in the eighth on a bases loaded double by Matt Harughty with two outs in the inning. However, the OU rally set the stage for one of KU’s greatest comebacks in team history.

Coming back from a six-run deficit marks the fourth time this year that the Jayhawks have rallied from being down by four runs or more to win a game.

KU had plenty of offensive heroes as Larson finished a home run shy of hitting for the cycle, while teammate, Waters homered, doubled, singled and drove in five runs. Thompson was 3-for-3 with three runs batted in, while Erik Morrison had three hits and three runs scored.

KU will look to claim a series win Saturday with a 2 p.m. game against the Sooners at Hoglund Ballpark.