Early home run dooms Kansas at No. 23 Stanford
STANFORD, Calif. – A three-run home run proved the difference maker as the Kansas baseball team dropped the series finale at No. 23 Stanford, 4-2, Sunday afternoon at Klein Field at Sunken Diamond.
Cardinal (5-2) right fielder Brandon Wulff connected on an elevated pitch by the Jayhawks’ (2-5) left-handed starter Taylor Turski, and sent it over the wall in left field to build an early 3-0 lead in the second inning. That swing didn’t deter the southpaw and he went back out and shut down the Stanford offense for the next four frames.
Turski (0-1) pitched six complete innings and gave up three runs, two earned, off five hits. He struck out a career-high six batters and did not surrender a walk in the 84-pitch effort. Of the 24 Cardinal hitters he faced, he threw 19 first-pitch strikes, and that home run in the second inning was the lone extra-base hit he allowed.
“He grinded that game,” head coach Ritch Price said. “He did a nice job mixing his pitches and was able to elevate the fastball when they were sitting off-speed. It was good to see him add that to his pitching plan. He competed and it ended up being a solid outing.”
Much like the rest of the weekend, Stanford’s starting pitching kept the Jayhawks’ bats at bay. Junior shortstop Matt McLaughlin started the game with a single off Cardinal lefty Chris Castellanos (1-0), but that would be it for Kansas until the sixth inning when freshman second baseman James Cosentino and McLaughlin hit back-to-back one-out singles.
However, it took one more inning for KU to score its first run of the weekend. Sophomore right fielder Devin Foyle roped a double down the left-field line with one out, and advanced to third on a groundout. The pressure of snapping a 24-inning scoreless streak fell in the hands of freshman catcher Jaxx Groshans.
The rookie backstop recorded just one hit prior to his seventh-inning at bat, but no one would have known that by his presence at the plate. Groshans fell behind early, 1-2, before taking two balls in a row to push the count full. Four foul balls later, and he found the left-field line for the RBI-double and end all hopes of a third-consecutive shutout.
“It was a tough series for our club,” Price said. “We fought and found a way to score a run in the seventh inning. Then we had the tying run at the plate in the eighth inning and the tying run at the plate in the ninth inning. That is one of the things you preach to young players is that you have to fight your way back in it. If you get the tying run to the dish, you have a chance to do something special.”
In the eighth inning, McLaughlin smoked a one-out triple to left center and scored on a RBI-groundout to cut the Stanford lead in half, 4-2. Sophomore centerfielder Rudy Karre then walked with two outs and brought KU’s leading hitter to the plate in sophomore third baseman David Kyriacou, who struck out.
Then in the ninth, Foyle led off the frame with a single and Kansas had three chances to do something special, but was unable to connect and fell, 4-2.
McLaughlin led all hitters with a 3-for-4 effort at the plate, including two singles, a triple and a run scored. Foyle boasted two hits, a single and a double, drew a walk and touched home once. Two freshmen drove in the duo in Groshans and left fielder Kaimana Souza-Paaluhi for their first-career RBIs and the only two runs for Kansas on the weekend.
“We need to just keep getting better,” Price said. “Stanford has physical guys in the middle of its lineup and speed at the top and bottom. We didn’t see their two aces and every arm they ran out there was quality. It is a good learning experience and hopefully we got better and took a step forward.”
The Jayhawks return to Lawrence to open up an eight-game homestand beginning with Oral Roberts, Tuesday, Feb. 28. First pitch for that contest is slated for 3 p.m., and can be seen on ESPN3.
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