Jayhawks Drop Series Finale to No. 8 Texas Tech, 6-3
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Junior closer Stephen Villines pitched a career-high six shutout innings as the Kansas baseball team fell short to No. 8 Texas Tech, 6-3, Sunday at Hoglund Ballpark.
The sidearm slinger entered the game in the fourth inning after the Red Raiders (37-13, 17-4 Big 12) hit up Kansas (19-29-1, 5-12 Big 12) starter Blake Weiman for six runs off nine hits, including back-to-back home runs in the third. Villines faced 21 batters of the red-hot TTU offense and allowed just two hits in the 80-pitch effort. His six scoreless innings not only dropped his ERA to 1.76, but gave KU a chance in those frames to get back in the ballgame.
“Villines gave us an unbelievable performance after Weiman got knocked around,” head coach Ritch Price said. “He put up six zeroes and we fought it back to 6-3. We had chances to tie the ballgame and take the lead if we could have just got a clutch hit.”
That clutch hit never came. Kansas hit into a season-high four double plays including one in the ninth to end the game. KU loaded the bases two times but couldn’t connect. In the fourth, the Jayhawks got its first three hitters on with no outs before Texas Tech reliever Robert Dugger induced a pop out and a six-four-three double play.
Then in the fifth inning, Kansas had the bases loaded with two outs before senior first baseman Ryan Pidhaichuk grounded one back to the pitcher to strand all three on base. In total, KU left 10 runners on base and couldn’t keep pace with the Red Raiders offense that had 11 hits including six extra-base hits.
“We hit into four double plays,” Price said. “We had the bases loaded twice and couldn’t score. When you play a team ranked in the top-10 in the country and you get guys on base, you have to score. That is the only way you can win.”
Weiman (2-6) cruised through the first inning before taking the mound in the second with the Jayhawks’ first lead of the weekend, 1-0. TTU then loaded the bases with no outs with a little help from a KU error in the top of the second. Weiman got a strikeout and a fly out on the next two hitters, before TTU’s Stephen Smith roped a two-run double down the left field line to take the lead, 2-1.
In the third, Weiman gave up a leadoff double and a one-out RBI-single before Texas Tech’s Eric Gutierrez and Hunter Hargrove hit back-to-back home runs to put up a four spot and take the four-run lead, 6-2.
“It has been really tough,” Price said. “Weiman is competitive and out there giving us his best effort. The only way you can beat a team ranked in the top-10 is you have to pitch well. You can’t expect to score six or more runs against a team that is ranked that high in pitching.”
Kansas tallied 10 hits on the day with multi-hit efforts from sophomore shortstop Matt McLaughlin (2-for-5), junior catcher Michael Tinsley (2-for-4) and seniors Tommy Mirabelli (2-for-4) and Colby Wright (2-for-3). Wright added two RBIs while Mirabelli had the lone extra-base hit for the Jayhawks with a double in the second inning.
“I tip my cap to our guys, they keep grinding,” Price said. “Villines gave us a chance to get back in it, but we just couldn’t get that one hit.”
The Jayhawks are back on the field May 13-15, as they travel to Manhattan for a three-game series against in-state rival Kansas State. All three games can be seen on Cox Kansas and ESPN3 while fans can also tune into an audio broadcast on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio.
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