Jayhawks blast past Bears in series finale
LAWRENCE, Kan.– An offensive explosion and a stellar starting pitching effort boosted the Kansas baseball team in a 12-7 victory over the Baylor Bears in the series finale at Hoglund Ballpark on Sunday afternoon.
The Jayhawks (15-12, 1-5 Big 12) used 15 hits on the day to fuel its 12-run output that included crooked numbers in the third, sixth and seventh innings, respectively. That run support gave rookie lefty starter Eli Davis (3-3) all he needed in his six and 1/3 innings pitched.
Davis worked around a tough Baylor (20-7, 5-1 Big 12) lineup to strand six runners on base and gave up just one run through six innings. The southpaw went on to strike out five batters while allowing just one walk. However, it was the seventh inning where the Bears tagged him for two runs that ended his day.
The Jayhawk offense came alive in the bottom of the third inning off Baylor reliever Blake Helton (1-1). Junior catcher Jaxx Groshans started the rally with a solo home run to lead off the frame. Kansas scored two more runs off of an error and a double by sophomore third baseman Skyler Messinger to make it 3-0.
The Jayhawks’ offense continued to produce in the fourth inning, scoring another run off of two hits and another Baylor error, 4-0.
Kansas broke the game open in the bottom of the sixth with a five-run rally to answer a Baylor run in the top-half of the frame. An RBI-single from senior Rudy Karre, a two-run single from sophomore designated hitter Tom Lichty, and a two-run double by Messinger increased the Jayhawks’ advantage, 9-1.
The Bears put up a three-run seventh inning to slim the Jayhawks’ lead to five. However, Kansas countered with a three-run slot of its’ own in the bottom of the inning.
In his first at-bat of the day, redshirt-freshman Dylan Ditzenberger roped a two-run double down the third-base line to add two runs. Ditzenberger then scored on an error to give Kansas a 12-4 lead that they never relinquished.
- Kansas starting pitcher Eli Davis has now pitched in the sixth inning four times this season, with the last time coming in a 2-1 victory over Ball State on March 10.
- Junior catcher Jaxx Groshans blasted his 10th home run of the season, which leads the Big 12. Groshans’ 10 home runs also rank second among catchers in the NCAA, trailing only Georgia Tech’s Kyle McCann, who has 12.
- Kansas has now had back-to-back seasons with a player hitting at least 10 home runs, dating back to last season when junior outfielder Devin Foyle hit 10 home runs.
- Junior outfielder Brett Vosik hit a season-high two doubles while going 3-4 on the day with a walk.
- Sophomore third baseman Skyler Messinger hit a season-high two doubles and tied his season-high in both hits and RBI’s with two and three, respectively.
- Sophomore designated hitter Tom Lichty notched a career-high two hits and a season-high two RBI’s.
- Kansas’ seven doubles on the day are a new season-high, beating the previous season-high of four, which came in an 8-1 victory over Northern Illinois on March 1.
Redshirt-freshman pitcher Eli Davis
On getting his first home win:
“It felt pretty great, it’s been a long time coming. It’s just great to get back on the home field and have a little bit of an advantage going our way.”
Junior catcher Jaxx Groshans
On the offensive performance:
“Skip (Ritch Price) fired us up before the game. It’s all about Sunday. In this league, if you get swept, you have to make up three games to get to .500. We had to keep it simple today. Just do what we could do, control things we could control.”
Head coach Ritch Price
On Eli Davis’ performance:
“It was special. To be the Oklahoma high school pitcher of the year as a senior and then miss your first year of college, that was by far his best performance of the year and obviously the biggest game of the year for us.”
On getting the first home win:
“It seems like we haven’t played here since last year, basically, the way it’s been. Obviously it was a grinded out win today, we needed a really good starting performance from Eli Davis, luckily he pitched one of his best games of the year for us against a team that is just red-hot with a bat.”
On finally getting production from the offense:
“I think it was crucial that we got the chance to get the bats going and scored some runs and took some pressure off the guys in the dugout. All of us that have played this game for a long time know, they talk about hitting being contagious and when you’re struggling, the whole lineup can struggle at times. Once we got it going one-through-nine, it was a pretty good today. It was nice to see our impact players clutch up. I told our guys in our game notes session this morning, they’ve got five pro-prospects in that dugout that are juniors and seniors and they’re swinging the bats at a really high level and today, our upperclassmen stepped up big-time.”
Kansas continues its homestand Tuesday, April 2, when the Jayhawks play host to in-state rival Wichita State at 6 p.m.
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