Jayhawks grind out 4-2 win over Northwestern
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas baseball team used two long balls Friday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark to take the first of a three-game series against Northwestern, 4-2.
Sophomore catcher Jaxx Groshans started it in the first inning with a solo shot to left field and junior left fielder Devin Foyle kept it going in the fourth with a two-run bomb to left center. The duo exceeded expectations on a cold day where no one thought the ball would fly out of the park.
“We fought through adversity and found a way to win the game,” head coach Ritch Price said. “It was a great team win. The players really busted their rears for us yesterday to get the ballpark ready to play and I am so proud of the toughness they showed today.”
Temperatures hovered in the mid-30s throughout the course of the game and Kansas (3-1) used a solid outing from starter junior righty Jackson Goddard (2-0) to keep Northwestern at bay. Goddard tossed five and 1/3 innings allowing two runs off five hits while racking up four strikeouts in the 84-pitch effort.
It seemed every time Goddard found himself in trouble, his defense, mainly sophomore second baseman James Cosentino, was there to bail him out. Cosentino made two big defensive plays up the middle with runners on to keep the Wildcats (1-3) from a big inning – the type of plays that are difference makers in a two-run game.
“It starts with starting pitching,” Price said. “Goddard pounded the strike zone today and we made some big-time plays behind him. If Cosentino doesn’t make those two plays up the middle, it could have been a different game.”
Price used redshirt-sophomore Ryan Cyr and closer Zack Leban to get through the final three and 2/3 innings. Cyr pitched in and out of trouble for two and 2/3, while Leban went one-two-three in the ninth with two strikeouts for his third save in as many tries this season.
“Both of those men are competitors,” Price said. “Both of them pound the strike zone and give you everything they have. We are thrilled to have them in our bullpen.”
The two teams are back on the diamond Saturday, Feb. 24 for a 2 p.m. tilt. 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
Jack for Jaxx: It took sophomore catcher Jaxx Groshans 187 at bats to hit his first career home run as a rookie. Fast forward to this season, and he did it 20-times faster, just nine at bats into 2018. That first inning home run also extended a streak of four-straight games where the Jayhawks scored in the first frame.
Four bagger for Foyle: Junior left fielder Devin Foyle hit all of one home run in 204 at bats as a sophomore in 2017. Just four games into this season, and he has already matched the number from a year ago and leads the team in hits (8) and RBIs (5).
Three up, three down: After a rocky start, junior righty Jackson Goddard settled in and retired six-straight batters across the fourth and fifth innings, including two strikeouts. That momentum carried into the dugout where the offense used it to fuel a two-run fourth and a one-run fifth to solidify KU’s victory.
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