Early Gopher Offense Outlasts Jayhawks, 12-7

Box Score Final Box (.pdf)

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – Minnesota scored nine runs in the first two innings as the Kansas baseball team dropped game two of the midweek set to the No. 19 Gophers, 12-7, Wednesday afternoon at Siebert Field.
The Jayhawks (19-26-1) scored three runs in the top of the first inning before starter sophomore lefty Blake Weiman (2-5) gave up a two-run home run that ignited the Minnesota offense. The Gophers (29-13) roughed up the southpaw in the second inning for five runs before Kansas turned it over to its bullpen in freshman Jackson Goddard, who failed to record an out and gave up another two runs.
“They beat us up pretty good,” head coach Ritch Price said. “This may be the best offensive club we see all season long. They are very physical with the bat. That banged out 23 hits last night and another 18 hits today.”
KU found its answer to silence the hot Minnesota bats in redshirt-sophomore Tyler Davis. The righty entered the game in the second inning with one out after Goddard faced five batters. The California native proceeded to throw three and 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball, facing 18 batters in the process. The three zeroes allowed Kansas to chip away and pull itself within two runs of the Gophers, 9-7.
The Jayhawks answered with three runs in the third inning thanks three-straight singles to lead off the frame by junior catcher Michael Tinsley, senior second baseman Colby Wright and junior centerfielder Joven Afenir. A Minnesota balk and a sacrifice fly by freshman designated hitter David Kyriacou cut the UM lead in half, 9-6.
“Great job by Davis,” Price said. “He goes out and puts the three zeroes up and stops the bleeding. He gave us a chance to get back in it and we did. We cut the lead, 9-7.”
Kansas tacked on a run in the fourth after play was suspended for 45 minutes when home plate umpire Andy Fulton was forced to exit the game after being hit in the face by the ball. It took two hours to complete three and 1/2 innings of play before action resumed and the Jayhawks found themselves trailing by just two runs.
“We were concerned there on how long we were going to have to wait,” Price said. “I hope Fulton is ok. The catcher completely missed the ball and it hit him right dead in the jaw. He was seeing stars and spots, I just hope he is ok.”
After Davis closed out the fifth inning, KU called to senior righty Sam Gilbert for the sixth. Minnesota took advantage of the hard-throwing reliever and hit him up for two runs off the Gophers’ third home run of the game – a two-run shot by designated hitter Matt Fiedler. That dagger came after Kansas loaded the bases in the top half of the inning but failed to score and cut into UM’s two-run lead.
“We had the bases loaded with Afenir up and a chance to tie the game,” Price said. “We did some good things but just couldn’t get the clutch hit we needed toward the end of the game.”
Tinsley led Kansas with a 3-for-5 effort at the plate with a RBI and two runs scored. Afenir finished the day with two hits, two RBIs and a run scored while Wright extended his hitting streak to 13 games after a multi-hit day (2-for-4) with a RBI and a run scored. Sophomore shortstop Matt McLaughlin and senior first baseman Ryan Pidhaichuk drew a game-high two walks apiece.
“Overall, it was a good offensive performance,” Price said. “If we would have done a little better job in the backend of our lineup it could have been an even better showing. Now we are going to go home and play one of the top-10 ranked teams in the country.”
Kansas returns to Big 12 play May 6-8, as the Jayhawks play host to No. 8 Texas Tech at Hoglund Ballpark. All three games of the weekend series can be seen on ESPN3 with Saturday and Sunday’s contests also on the Jayhawk Television Network. Visit KUAthletics.com/JTV for more information on affiliates.
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