Jayhawks’ comeback stuns Omaha

PAPILLION, Neb. – Down to its final out in the top of the ninth inning, the Kansas baseball team erased a four-run deficit with an eight-run, two-out rally to sweep the season series against Omaha, 9-5, Tuesday night at Werner Park.
The Jayhawks (19-13) stranded nine base runners heading into that final frame and couldn’t buy a clutch hit all night off of Omaha (11-18) pitching. However, it was a pinch-hit single by junior Rudy Karre followed by a single up the middle by junior third baseman David Kyriacou that set the table for the two-out rally.
Sophomore designated hitter Jaxx Groshans drove one through the right side for the RBI to get the scoring started. Sophomore right fielder Brett Vosik then roped a two-run double into the left center gap. Redshirt-sophomore center fielder Brendt Citta followed with a flare job to right to drive in another run and then the Mavericks’ shortstop Keil Krumwiede kicked a Benjamin Sems ground ball to extend the inning to senior first baseman Owen Taylor.
Taylor had two rough at bats earlier in the game where he struck out looking, including one to lead off the ninth. However, the switch hitter finally found that pitch he was eyeing his second time up in the frame and drove a deep three-run shot to the opposite field for his fifth home run of the year and give the Jayhawks a four-run advantage, 9-5.
“I thought we had good at bats and opportunities earlier in the game to score,” head coach Ritch Price said. “We had runners on base it seemed in every inning, but couldn’t punch one across. Obviously, that ninth inning is one of the most special innings I have seen played in my entire coaching career. To see that eight-spot put up – what a great comeback.”
That comeback came after Kansas used four different pitchers with junior closer Zack Leban (2-0) recording the final eight outs for his second win of the season. Sophomore Gabriel Sotomayor started on the bump and lasted just one and 1/3 innings giving up a run. Senior Tyler Davis came on in relief and pitched three and 2/3 innings of two run ball before redshirt-freshman Jonah Ulane tossed a scoreless one and 1/3 innings.
The Jayhawks trailed 3-1 when Leban entered in the seventh. He got out of that frame unscathed, but fell into trouble in the eighth. After back-to-back strikeouts to start the inning, Leban walked the next hitter he faced and then gave up a two-run shot to Omaha catcher Adam Caniglia. That swing deflated the KU dugout as the squad found itself in a four-run hole with just three outs remaining in the game.
“That is why they say it is never over until it is over,” Price said. “We kept grinding out at bats and eventually, we found some holes there in the ninth.”
The hometown kid Vosik found three of those holes throughout the game as he led the Jayhawks with a 3-for-5 effort at the dish with a double, two RBIs and a run scored. Citta finished the day 2-for-4 with a RBI and a run scored while Kyriacou posted two hits. Taylor was the hero of the contest with that three-run home run accounting for three RBIs and a run scored.
The Jayhawks continue its two-day road trip in Omaha, Nebraska, as they take on Creighton at TD Ameritrade Park. Fans can watch the game live on the CBS Sports Network, or tune into the audio broadcast on the Jayhawk Radio Network.
Oppo bomb: Senior Owen Taylor showed his power to the opposite field connecting for his fifth home run on the season. That number is more than he had hit in his previous three years (3) with Kansas and ranks him first on the squad in that category. Additionally, that gives the Jayhawks 23 on the season for an average of 0.72 home runs per game.
Big innings: On Sunday, April 8, against then-No. 5 Texas Tech, KU scored five runs in the second, six runs in the fourth and six runs in the sixth. Those two six-run frames were the most the Jayhawks scored in one inning all season until tonight when they put up an eight-spot in the top of the ninth. The last time Kansas recorded eight or more runs in a single inning came May 5, 2017, when it plated 11 runs in the fourth inning against Texas Southern.

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