Jayhawks earn series win over No. 20 St. John's
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Bookend three-spots and stellar pitching paced the Kansas baseball team to a series win over No. 20 St. John’s, 6-1, Saturday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark.
The Jayhawks (10-4) stifled the Red Storm’s (8-3) lineup with a quality start from senior lefty Taylor Turski and three and 2/3 innings of scoreless relief from senior righty Tyler Davis.
“Today was a typical outing from Turski,” head coach Ritch Price said. “He got ahead in the count and mixed his four pitches for strikes, got in and out of trouble, and let his defense play. It is nice to see him command the strike zone the way he did. It was a solid outing for him.”
The southpaw was near perfect through four and 2/3 of an inning, allowing just one runner to reach base via the walk. It would be that 15th out where Turski (1-2) found himself in a little trouble after giving up back-to-back doubles in the fifth. Those two knocks in the frame led to St. John’s lone run of the contest.
Turski settled in and managed to close out the fifth and record one out into the sixth to pick up his first win of the season. He finished the day with two strikeouts and allowed just the one run off four hits and a walk.
Davis took over in the sixth and closed out the game for his first-career save. Davis faced just one batter over the minimum, while tying a personal-best four strikeouts.
Davis’ save opportunity came about after the Jayhawks picked up three insurance runs in the eighth inning. Kansas used three hits to score three runs, including a two-run single from sophomore designated hitter Jaxx Groshans. Those two RBIs by Groshans extends his streak to eight-straight games driving in at least one baserunner. That clutch hit also gave Price the confidence to stick with Davis and save his bullpen for a Sunday sweep.
“We needed that outing from Davis,” Price said. “He was special, absolutely special today. He saved our bullpen so we are fresh for tomorrow.”
The Jayhawks broke open the scoring in the first inning with three runs off of two hits and a little help form a St. John’s error. KU put presser on the Red Storm defense with a bunt and two infield singles to shortstop leading to the three-spot on the scoreboard.
“Since I have been here, we have been one of the best short game teams in the country,” Price said. “When the pitching is as good as they have, you have to execute your short game assignments and manufacture runs. We did some really good things handling the bat.”
Groshans and redshirt-sophomore right fielder Brendt Citta both handled the bat exceptionally well, combining for five of the team’s nine hits. Citta finished with a perfect 3-for-3 mark with a walk, while Groshans ended 2-for-5 with two RBIs. The duo also extended their hitting streaks to 10 and 11 games, respectively.
“We have a really good baseball team,” Price said. “It’s an experienced club. We have impact guys in that lineup. We have good starting pitching and an impact bullpen. When you have all of that, you have a chance to be really good, and right now, we are playing at a high level.”
Kansas goes for its second-consecutive weekend sweep on Sunday, March 11, for a 12 p.m. first pitch. Fans unable to attend can watch the game on ESPN3, available at WatchESPN.com or streaming live on multiple devices via the ESPN app. In addition to a video broadcast, the contest can also be heard on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Kick save: Senior lefty Taylor Turski cruised through four and 2/3 innings without allowing a hit. However, on that 14th out, Turski wore a hard shot off his foot up the middle. After that play, the southpaw surrendered back-to-back doubles to break open the scoring for St. John’s. Turski gave up another single and a double before he exited the game after five and 1/3 innings pitched.
Double-digit streaks: In the bottom of the third inning, sophomore designated hitter Jaxx Groshans and redshirt-sophomore right fielder Brendt Citta led off with back-to-back hits to extend their hitting streaks to 11 and 10 games, respectively. Groshan’s 11-game hit streak is the longest for a KU player since Matt McLaughlin strung together an 11-gamer in 2017 (March 10 – March 31).
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