Jayhawks Fall to Murray State, 14-9

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Plagued by three big Murray State innings, the Kansas baseball team couldn’t find its rhythm on the mound and dropped the first of a two-game midweek set to the Racers, 14-9, Tuesday night at Hoglund Ballpark.
The Jayhawks (6-8) had all the momentum in the first inning after scoring two quick runs and getting the bases loaded with two outs. However, lightning found its way to the area and play was suspended in the bottom of the first inning.
“The enthusiasm in our dugout when the game started was off the charts,” head coach Ritch Price said. “We came out of the gates banging the baseball, and were ready to play and get after them.”
One hour and 44 minutes later, the game resumed and all that enthusiasm exhibited was all but lost.
“We came back out onto the field and they took it to us,” Price said. “They hit us in the mouth and then we got hit in the mouth again. The next thing you know, we are buried. What I preached to our guys is that when it is go time you have to walk back through the dugout with the same energy you had two hours previous.”
Murray State (8-10) stole that energy and used it to score five runs off freshman righty Black Goldsberry (0-1) in the second inning. The rookie hurler pitched 2/3 of an inning and faced seven batters, giving up five hits. Then it was back to the bullpen to try and find someone to stop the bleeding.
It took Kansas four different pitchers to find the right matchup in sophomore righty Casey Douglas, who was the only hurler to keep Murray State off the scoreboard. Douglas tossed the seventh and eighth innings, respectively, giving up just one walk and striking out two batters. The five other pitchers that saw action combined to give up 14 runs off 15 hits and six walks.
“It has been tough trying to find a bullpen,” Price said. “(Associate head coach) Ryan Graves is trying everything he can to find combinations that will work for us right now. It is a glaring weakness for us – there is no doubt about it. I still like the guys we are running out there, they just can’t find the rhythm they need to be successful.”
Murray State’s starter Austin Dubsky (1-2) found his rhythm quickly after giving up two runs in the first inning. The righty tossed six and 1/3 innings until a seventh-inning rally by Kansas knocked him out of the game. The Jayhawks sprung for four runs in the frame thanks to three hits, including triples by junior centerfielder Joven Afenir and freshman left fielder Devin Foyle.
Those three base knocks amounted to a quarter of KU’s hits on the day as the Jayhawks connected for 12. Sophomore shortstop Matt McLaughlin paced the team with a 2-for-3 effort at the plate with two RBIs and two runs scored. Junior catcher Michael Tinsley connected for two base knocks, while senior first baseman Ryan Pidhaichuk and Foyle each drove in two runs.
“I still really like this team,” Price said. “I like how competitive and resilient we are. I have young guys playing who are going to get better and I am going to keep being positive and push them to see if I can get us going in the right direction. We need to take care of business tomorrow. We have to flush this, bounce back and show some maturity to find a way to get the momentum back in the right direction.”
Kansas wraps up its homestand Wednesday, March 16, in one final game against Murray State, before hitting the road to play three games at Stanford (March 18-20).  The game against the Racers can be seen on ESPN3. Fans can also tune into the Jayhawk Radio Network for a live audio broadcast via KUAthletics.com/Radio.
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