Early Innings Doom Jayhawks at No. 12 Oklahoma State, 9-2
STILLWATER, Okla. – Senior lefty Ben Krauth eclipsed the 100-strikeout mark as the Kansas baseball team dropped the night cap of a Friday doubleheader to No. 12 Oklahoma State, 9-2, at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
Krauth (5-6) started off the fourth inning by striking out Cowboy (34-18, 15-8 Big 12) right fielder Corey Hassel to become just the sixth player since 1955 – first since 2012 – in Kansas history to punch out 100 or more batters in a single season. If that was not enough, Krauth finished the day with six strikeouts to bring his season total to 103, ranking him fifth all-time in the KU record book.
“Krauth has been the one constant,” head coach Ritch Price said. “Each time he walked out there he has given us a good performance. You can make a case that he is as good as anybody in our conference and should be first team all-league with the numbers he has.”
Even with six strikeouts, Krauth’s start for Kansas (20-34-1, 6-17 Big 12) wasn’t of his usual caliber. Oklahoma State hit up the southpaw for three runs in the first inning thanks to a two-run home run by shortstop Donnie Walton. The Cowboys then added a run by way of a RBI-single and the Jayhawks found themselves in a 3-0 hole.
A little bad luck in the second scored another OSU run when a routine ball up the middle kicked off of second base with two outs eliminating any chance to get out of the inning unscathed. Krauth then left a ball elevated to Cowboy first baseman Dustin Williams in the third and he took him deep to right center for his Big 12 leading 14th home run of the season and dig a 6-0 hole for Kansas to climb out of.
“That is a culmination of the last several weeks have been like,” Price said. “He has been 115-120 pitches for eight consecutive weeks now. The one great thing about what a great competitor he is, is that he bounces back and puts up the three zeroes up after giving up the early runs.”
Krauth settled in during the fourth after the Jayhawks scored its first run of the contest in the top half of the frame. He retired nine of the last 10 batters he faced to throw three zeroes on the scoreboard and exited the game after a six-inning performance.
Krauth gave up season-high six runs off nine hits including the two home runs. His six strikeouts pushed his career total to 187 and ranks him fifth all-time at KU with 9.18 strikeouts per nine innings. In addition, his 103 strikeouts were the most by a Kansas player since Mike Zagurski fanned a school-record 112 batters in 2005.
KU had two prime opportunities to do damage after it loaded the bases in the seventh and eighth innings, respectively. In the seventh, the Jayhawks loaded the bases with two outs when freshman left fielder Devin Foyle drew the RBI-walk to bring up junior Michael Tinsley, the Big 12 leader in batting average. The lefty bat worked a 2-1 count, but OSU reliever Carson Teel forced Tinsley to pop it up on the infield and strand all three runners on base.
In the eighth, senior second baseman Colby Wright led off with a double and sophomore shortstop Matt McLaughlin singled before senior first baseman Ryan Pidhaichuk loaded them when he forced OSU to make an error. However, with bases loaded and no outs, Kansas failed to score a run.
“We had opportunities with our best players up,” Price said. “If we gap a ball, it is a different game. We walked in here knowing how hard it was going to beat the top pitching staff in the league and we gave it all we had.”
With the loss, the Jayhawks have been eliminated from the Big 12 Baseball Championship held May 25-29 at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, as only the top-eight teams in the league standings qualify.
Kansas wraps up its season against the Cowboys Saturday, May 21, with a 3 p.m. tilt. Fans can watch the game live on Fox Sports Oklahoma or tune into an audio broadcast on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio.
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