Denzer’s Grand Slam Upends Samford, 9-5
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – With bases loaded and no outs in the top of the ninth inning, freshman pinch-hitter Ty Denzer carried the Kansas baseball team to victory with his second-career grand slam, as the Jayhawks defeated Samford, 9-5, Sunday afternoon at Joe Lee Griffin Field.
Never trailing in the game, Kansas (17-22) skipper Ritch Price needed some magic in the top of the ninth. That burden fell to the switch-hitting Denzer, who entered the day with just three hits in 11 at bats. On the third pitch of the at bat, Denzer smoked the ball deep over the wall in right field for his second grand slam in as many at bats this week.
“I was just trying to find something I could hit to the outfield and try not to do too much,” Denzer said. “There was a lot more pressure with the at bat today, but I felt calm up there. I got a good pitch to hit and put a good swing on it.”
Denzer’s grand slam may have been the difference maker, but senior right fielder Joe Moroney gave the Jayhawks breathing room in the second inning with his own home run – a three-run bomb to left field. Moroney finished the game 3-for-6 with three RBIs and two runs scored.
Seven of the KU’s nine runs came by way of the home run and for the fourth time this season – second time this week – Kansas blasted multiple home runs in game
“I was just trying to be aggressive,” Moroney said. “Samford’s pitcher left one up and I was able to elevate it enough to go over the fence. That allowed our pitching staff to relax and throw up some zeroes.”
Scoreless innings is what Kansas needed after senior lefty Ben Krauth, officially making his second start this weekend, didn’t look himself from the very first Samford (23-18) hitter he faced. He walked the leadoff hitter on five pitches and couldn’t quite find his rhythm on the mound.
The Bulldogs rung up three runs against the Kansas ace, before Krauth took a line drive off the foot and exited the game after just one and 2/3 innings. To his credit, he battled to give the Jayhawks all he had, but Price didn’t want to take any chances and called to lefty Blake Weiman out of the bullpen.
“We were debating whether or not to use Krauth today,” Price said. “He wanted to pitch and felt he needed to get out there to find his rhythm after only throwing one inning Friday night. We wanted to use him three innings and then they got to him there in the second. His fastball wasn’t firm and left some balls up and they were on time. Then Weiman goes out there today and gives us a chance to win.”
Weiman worked three scoreless frames until the sixth inning where he left a fastball belt high for Samford catcher Richard Greene, who took him deep to left field for the two-run jack. Weiman faced 18 batters and gave up two runs off five hits in the 62-pitch effort. He exited the game after that sixth inning with the game tied, 5-5.
Kansas turned the game over to its veteran closer in the seventh in junior Stephen Villines (5-2). The sidearm hurler scattered five hits through the final three innings, working out of a jam in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, to preserve the KU victory, 9-5.
The Jayhawks are back in action Tuesday, April 26, as the Jayhawks play host to Grand Canyon before taking part in the College Baseball Hall of Fame Game at Kauffman Stadium Wednesday, April 27, against Nebraska. First pitch for both contests are set for 6 p.m.
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