Big inning costly for Kansas at No. 23 Stanford

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STANFORD, Calif. – A five-run Stanford fifth inning plagued the Jayhawks Friday night at Klein Field at Sunken Diamond, as Kansas fell to the No. 23-ranked Cardinal, 6-0.
With cold weather that made it seem we should be playing this contest in October, the game itself had all the makings of a Kansas (2-3) and Stanford (3-2) pitcher’s duel early on. Junior righty Sean Rackoski and Cardinal lefty Andrew Summerville duked it out on the mound and kept both offenses silent until the fifth inning.
“When you walk in to play a power five team and a national power, you know you have to match the opponent zero for zero,” head coach Ritch Price said. “For four innings, Rackoski was as good as he has ever been at the University of Kansas. He had a lot of strikeouts.”
Rackoski (1-1) cruised through the first four frames unscathed allowing just one hit while striking out five batters. However, in the fifth, a leadoff single by Stanford third baseman Mikey Diekroeger interrupted Rackoski’s rhythm and he began to fall behind in the count.
“In the fifth inning, Rackoski got behind in the count and elevated the ball – and they were on time,” Price said. “It ended up being the turning point in the ballgame.”
Turning point indeed. The Cardinal connected for six hits off the towering righty in the fifth inning, and plated five runs to knock Rackoski out of the game after four and 2/3 innings pitched. He struck out five batters in the process and threw four wild pitches.
That five-spot sucked out any life that was left in the Kansas dugout and paved the way for Summerville (1-0) to continue to dominate a young Kansas lineup. The southpaw pitched six innings of no-hit baseball before he exited the game after tossing 97 pitches. He allowed four walks while striking out eight of the 21 batters he faced.
“He (Summerville) did a really nice job with his three-pitch mix,” Price said. “He wasn’t overpowering like the guys we saw last Sunday from Virginia. We know there are going to be some growing pains with such a young team and coming in here to play a national power. We are going to be better for it when the weekend is over.”
Stanford tasked reliever Will Mattheissen to close out the final three innings for the save and try to preserve both the no-hit bid and shutout – only one of those stood.
It took eight innings, but Kansas finally broke-up the no-hit bid after freshman second baseman James Cosentino led off the frame with a single to right field. That spark by the rookie quickly extinguished itself, however, when sophomore right fielder Ty Denzer grounded into the four-six-three double play.
“We had a lot of young players today with a lot of bad at bats,” Price said. “There is no way to sugarcoat it. That was a really bad performance offensively from our club. We showed our inexperience tonight. To their credit, they have good pitching and dominated our young hitters tonight.”
Junior shortstop Matt McLaughlin had the best day at the plate, seeing a total of 24 pitches in four trips to the dish – he walked two times. He was the only starter in the lineup that didn’t strikeout as the Cardinal combined to punch out the Jayhawks 10 times on the night.
Kansas returns to action at Sunken Diamond for game two of the three-game series against the Cardinal, Saturday, Feb. 25 at 4 p.m. (CST). Fans can watch the game live on the Pac-12 Digital Network or tune into the audio broadcast at or on the official “Kansas Jayhawks” mobile app.
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