Jayhawks Fall Short Against No. 5 Oregon State, 3-1
SURPRISE, Ariz. – Behind outstanding pitching from freshmen righties Jackson Goddard and Zack Leban, the Kansas baseball team played to the wire against No. 5 Oregon State, only to fall, 3-1, Sunday afternoon at Surprise Stadium.
Goddard and Leban combined to throw eight innings, virtually shutting down a Beavers’ (7-1) team that hadn’t scored less than seven runs in a game all season until today. The duo gave up just four hits and showed toughness, pitching in and out of trouble all day
“I am really proud of Goddard,” Price said. “He was really nervous in his first start and didn’t have a really good outing. Today he walks in against the No. 5 team in the country that has seven guys batting over .350 in their lineup – he was really special.”
Special may have been an understatement. Goddard hung up four zeroes in the first five innings, giving up just one unearned run in the third after a Kansas (2-4) error extended the frame. However, he pitched himself into trouble in the sixth and with runners on first and second, head coach Ritch Price called to Leban to get it done.
“I couldn’t have gotten a better pitching performance out of two guys,” Price said. “It was a great college baseball game. [Oregon State] played like a top-10 team in the country and we have a chance to play at that level if we keep improving.”
Leban took the ball and gave up a two-strike, two-out, two-run single to give Oregon State the 3-0 advantage.
“The game comes down to a two-out RBI,” Price said. “Their guy has a great at bat with two strikes and two outs and lines the ball to right field for the two-run single. We have the bases loaded and one out and get a strikeout and a pop out and don’t score. To their credit, their guy was really good out of the bullpen as well.”
Kansas had its opportunity to tie the game in the eighth after scoring a run and loading the bases with one out. However, senior second baseman Colby Wright flied out to shallow right and sophomore Owen Taylor struck out in the pinch-hit situation to strand all three runners on base.
“We couldn’t get that clutch hit,” Price said. “At the same time, we have gotten a lot better offensively since we have been here. You would like to have more than seven hits, but I also have to compliment Oregon State’s defense. They took a lot of hits away.”
The Jayhawks have made great strides since their season opener nearly a week ago. Goddard pitched deeper into the game than he did in his first start, and managed to mix his pitches well to keep the Beavers off balance.
Goddard (0-1) finished the game after five and 1/3 innings and was credited with all three runs, two of them earned. He gave up three hits, struck out three and hit two batters in the 92-pitch effort.
“You have to tip your hat to Goddard today,” sophomore shortstop Matt McLaughlin said. “Doing what he did against a top-10 team in the country as a freshman – it was impressive to see. We are going to play a lot of young guys and if we can build off that momentum – we are one big hit away from being a really good team.”
That one big hit has been the storyline all season. Kansas is hitting just .138 (9-for-65) with runners in scoring position and can’t seem to muster that timely hit. Today was no different. The Jayhawks stranded 10 baserunners, including bases loaded in the eighth and two on in the ninth.
Six different players managed to get on base with McLaughlin leading the way with a 2-for-3 effort and the game’s lone RBI for the Jayhawks. The only extra-base hit for KU came in the ninth when senior right fielder Joe Moroney hit one into the right-center gap. However, with runners at second and third and one out, freshman designated hitter Rudy Karre and sophomore centerfielder Joven Afenir posted back-to-back strikeouts.
The Jayhawks wrap up their trip Monday, Feb. 29, as they take on Utah at Goodyear Ballpark in Goodyear, Arizona. First pitch is slated for 12 p.m. (CT) and can be heard on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio.
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