⚾️ Ahuna, Upshaw Home Runs Propel Jayhawks to 10-7 Win
MINNEAPOLIS — Seven runs courtesy of the long ball helped lift Kansas to a 10-7 victory Sunday afternoon against Illinois in the final game of the Cambria College Classic at U.S. Bank Stadium. Sophomore shortstop Maui Ahuna and redshirt senior outfielder Caleb Upshaw each homered in the win.
Tied 7-7 with one out and runners on first and third in the bottom of the eighth, Upshaw hit a ball to center field that went off the batter’s eye for a three-run homer. The home run set up redshirt senior closer Jonah Ulane to come in and get the final three outs of the contest for his second save of the season.
Kansas entered Sunday’s game on a four-game skid and fell behind 1-0 after two innings. In the third, Ahuna came up to the plate with the bases loaded and no outs. He continued his hot hitting by launching a grand slam to center field and giving KU a 4-1 advantage.
Illinois (3-6) answered right back, however, with a four-run fourth inning that included a bases-clearing triple off the bat of reigning Big Ten batting champion Justin Janas.
In the bottom of the fourth, trailing 5-4, another bases-loaded opportunity presented itself for Kansas. Redshirt senior Nolan Metcalf was at the plate this time and he drove a two-run single back up the middle to give KU a 6-5 lead.
The Fighting Illini scored another pair of runs in the sixth to go up 7-6. Redshirt junior infielder Dylan Ditzenberger was able to neutralize that with an RBI fielder’s choice in the bottom of the seventh to even up the score at 7-7. Upshaw’s go-ahead home run in the eighth would then seal the game for the Jayhawks.
On the mound, redshirt senior lefty Daniel Hegarty earned the win after throwing four effective innings in relief. He allowed two runs on four hits, while striking out two. Ulane earned his second save of the season.
Following the conclusion of the final game, Ahuna was selected to the Cambria College Classic All-Tournament Team. Ahuna hit .600/.667/1.100 (6-for-10), with a triple, grand slam and four RBIs on the weekend.
Kansas (4-6) will continue its 11-day, eight-game trip with a two-game midweek series in Charleston, S.C. against Charleston Southern. Both games will be live streamed on ESPN+ and the Jayhawk Sports Network.
• Maui Ahuna finished 3-for-5 with a grand slam and four RBIs. His four RBIs tied a career high and the grand slam was the first of his career.
• The grand slam was the first by a Jayhawk since Brett Vosik hit a grand slam at Furman on April 26, 2019.
• Caleb Upshaw went 3-for-4 with a double, home run, three RBIs and two runs scored. The home run was his first in a Jayhawks uniform. His three hits and three RBIs were each season highs.
• Daniel Hegarty threw a season-high four innings out of the bullpen.
• Jonah Ulane recorded his second save of the season and 24th career save. Ulane currently ranks fourth in all-time saves at KU. He trails Stephen Villines (40), Don Czyz (31) and Paul Smyth (27).