Goddard’s career day lifts Jayhawks to series win over OSU

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – On the heels of a career outing from sophomore Jackson Goddard, the Kansas baseball team claimed its second conference series win of the season after defeating Oklahoma State, 4-2, Saturday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark.
Goddard (3-2) pitched the Jayhawks (17-18, 6-6 Big 12) to victory with a career-high 13 strikeouts without surrendering a walk in the 111-pitch effort. He beat his previous personal mark (7) by six strikeouts and allowed just one earned run en route to picking up his third win on the season.
“I wasn’t as efficient as I would have liked to have been,” Goddard said. “I was only able to get through the sixth inning because my pitch count was so high, but I had great guys behind me that were able to close it out.”
Those guys Goddard referred to were freshman righty Ryan Zeferjahn, junior lefty Blake Weiman and senior closer Stephen Villines, who pitched the seventh, eighth and ninth innings, respectively. The trio combined to face 10 batters, and retired all but two – five by way of the strikeout.
Zeferjahn gave up a single to Oklahoma State’s (20-15, 4-8 Big 12) Ryan Sluder to lead off the seventh inning, but then struck out the next hitter he faced before inducing the double play to get out of the frame. Weiman tossed a perfect eighth and recorded one strikeout, while Villines (10) struck out three hitters in the ninth to continue a perfect 5-for-5 streak in save opportunities.
“What can I say about those three guys,” head coach Ritch Price said. “I was really proud of Zeferjahn with another good outing on back-to-back days. He set it up for us to go to Weiman and then obviously Villines.”
Even with the trio of arms in his back pocket, Goddard could have pitched deeper in the game had Kansas been able to have a clean first inning. Goddard struck out four hitters in the first frame, but allowed an unearned run when a wild pitch, passed ball and fielding error by junior shortstop Matt McLaughlin plated the game’s first run.
Kansas erased that with a run in the bottom half of the frame and then scored one run in each of the next two innings to take a 3-1 lead. Goddard’s only blemish on the day came in the top of the sixth when he gave up a leadoff home run to OSU catcher Colin Simpson. That didn’t faze him as he retired the next three batters with the final two going down swinging.
“We needed a great effort from Goddard today,” Price said. “When Goddard is on, he is as special as anybody in the country. If we catch the ball, he could have pitched deeper into the game. We gave them six outs in the first inning and because of that, we had to take him out after six with 13 strikeouts.”
Goddard’s 13 strikeouts ties for the second-most in the Ritch Price era as Mike Zagurski fanned 13 against Northern Colorado on Feb. 25, 2005. Frank Duncan holds that top spot in the 15-year tenure of the Kansas skipper after he struck out 14 against Mississippi Valley State on Feb. 23, 2014.
Four different Jayhawks accounted for eight of the team’s nine hits as they each posted two-hit performances. Sophomore centerfielder Rudy Karre (2-for-4), freshman right fielder Brett Vosik (2-for-4), senior first baseman Marcus Wheeler (2-for-2) and McLaughlin (2-for-4) joined in on that effort with Karre, Vosik and Wheeler each scoring a run.
Six-out first: Kansas gave Oklahoma State six outs in the first inning after a missed block on strike three in the dirt allowed the lead-off man aboard. A passed ball on a strike right down the middle by junior catcher Tanner Gragg advanced him to second before he ended up scoring after an error on a routine double play ball to McLaughlin at short. Goddard recorded four strikeouts in the inning, but Kansas went to bat in the home half trailing, 1-0.
Wheels: Senior first baseman Marcus Wheeler roped a double down the left-field line to get things started for the Jayhawks in the bottom of the second inning with the game tied, 1-1. Wheeler made his way to touch home plate for just the ninth time in his career after a ground out moved him to third and a sacrifice fly brought him in.
RBI on a hit-by-pitch: After Oklahoma State cut the Kansas lead to one, 3-2, in the sixth inning, the Jayhawks went out in the home half of the seventh and loaded the bases with two outs off Cowboy reliever Blake Battenfield. Karre was up to bat and wore his 17th pitch of the season to bring in a run and give the Jayhawks a two-run cushion, 4-2.
Kansas takes a brief hiatus before heading down to Wichita State on Wednesday, April 19, before continuing south to Oklahoma for a three-game conference matchup against the Sooners on April 21-23.
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