Jayhawks' offense rallies to beat Omaha

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Trailing 6-0 after two innings, the Kansas baseball team scored eight-unanswered runs to defeat Omaha, 8-6, Wednesday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark.
The Jayhawks’ (12-4) lineup sat quiet the first time through the order until the third inning when they threw up a three-spot. Two of those three runs came from the bat of sophomore catcher Jaxx Groshans, who smoked his third home run of the season to extend his hitting streak to 13 games.
“Groshans has become one the best offensive players in our conference,” head coach Ritch Price said. “He is growing and maturing, and is as good as a hitter as I have had at KU.”
Groshans’ two-run bomb cut the Mavericks (4-12) lead in half, 6-3, after that third frame, and sent a spark into the Kansas dugout. That spark lit a fire under sophomore reliever Gabriel Sotomayor, and he dealt for three and 1/3 innings, striking out a career-high four batters.
Sotomayor’s performance gave way to redshirt-sophomore Ryan Cyr (3-1) and then to junior closer Zack Leban (8) to lock up the victory, 8-6.
Four relievers combined to throw seven and 1/3 scoreless innings, while the staff as a whole struck out 12 hitters.
“You look at the board after the first two innings and you are down six runs,” Price said. “One of the things you preach to your team is that whoever comes out of the bullpen has to put zeroes up to give your team a chance to win. To put seven zeroes up after how bad the start was – it ends up being a great team win.”
That team win came on the heels of a 10-hit performance from the offense, highlighted by that Groshans home run and a two-run triple by sophomore shortstop Benjamin Sems.
Three Jayhawks finished the game with double-digit hits including junior centerfielder Rudy Karre (2-for-4), sophomore second baseman James Cosentino (2-for-5) and Sems (2-for-3), who led the squad with three RBIs on the day.
“Our goal is to score seven runs a game,” Price said. “You look at the scoreboard and we kept chipping away and had good at bats. In the end, we were able to pull away with the win.”
Kansas opens up conference play at Texas on Friday, March 16, for the first of a three-game set. All three games can be seen on the Longhorn Network and streaming live on WatchESPN.com or on multiple devices via the ESPN app. In addition to the video broadcast, the contests can also be heard on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio.
Leban for the save: Junior closer Zack Leban picked up his nation-leading eighth save of the season to seal up KU’s victory over Omaha. On the season, Leban is a perfect 8-for-8 in save opportunities in nine appearances on the year. He has struck out nine batters in 10 and 2/3 innings of work.
Power-up: Sophomore catcher Jaxx Groshans hit his third home run of the season to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. That home run marks the 12th for the Jayhawks this season. Kansas hit all of 18 home runs in 58 games a year ago, and in 2018, is averaging 0.8 home runs per contest. In addition, comparing the first 16 games from 2017 to 2018, KU’s power numbers have increased as the team is slugging .433 – .133 more than this point a season ago.redshirt-sophomore right fielder Brendt Citta extended their hitting streaks to 12 and 11 games, respectively. They are the first tandem to hold 10-plus-game hitting streaks at the same time since Colby Wright (14) and Michael Tinsley (10) accomplished that feat on May 6, 2016.

FOLLOW /KansasBaseball

KUAthletics.com:  The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.