Jayhawks out-dueled on the mound at K-State
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Sophomore righty Ryan Zeferjahn was good, but Kansas State’s Jared Marolf was just a little better, and the Kansas baseball team fell in the second game of the Sunflower Showdown, 1-0, Saturday night at Tointon Family Stadium.
Both hurlers pitched complete games with Zeferjahn (7-4) taking the loss after eight innings of one-run baseball where he struck out nine Wildcats (19-30, 4-19 Big 12). His only blemish came in the seventh inning when he gave up a leadoff walk who ended up coming around to score on a sacrifice fly.
“It was one of the better played games I have seen throughout this 2018 season,” head coach Ritch Price said. “Both pitchers were completely in command and dominating both sides of the plate. It was a tremendous college baseball game.”
That one-run inning for Kansas State came after Zeferjahn allowed just two baserunners through the first six frames.
K-State shortstop Cam Thompson led off that seventh inning with a five-pitch walk and reached second base on a single by Drew Mount. Then with no outs, Zeferjahn spiked a ball in the dirt and it rolled to the backstop, allowing Thompson and Mount to move up 90 feet. Thompson then scored on a sacrifice fly by Trent McMaster – the only run of the game.
“That wild pitch was huge,” Price said. “We needed to get a glove or a chest on the ball, it went right to the backstop. When it is a scoreless game, you can’t let guys move up 90 feet without them executing, and unfortunately, that is the one bad pitch that Zeferjahn threw that we were unable to control.”
Kansas (23-26, 6-13 Big 12) had its chances to score after getting the leadoff runner aboard in five of its nine trips to the plate. The Jayhawks’ best opportunity came in the fifth inning when they had runners at second and third and one out.
Freshman third baseman Skyler Messinger hit a hard ground ball to third base and redshirt-sophomore right fielder Brendt Citta got caught in a rundown between third and home, and was eventually tagged out on the play. A groundout later, and KU came up empty on a prime scoring chance.
“The only thing I was disappointed in was that we had a runner on third and less than two outs and didn’t put the ball in play,” Price said. “That is the difference between winning and losing. You lose a one-run game where if you hit a 60-40 ground ball, you score a run and you might have won 2-1.”
Marolf kept Kansas off balance all night through his second complete game in as many starts. He faced 31 batters and allowed just five hits while recording three strikeouts. The Jayhawks’ lack of discipline at the plate resulted in no free passes other than a ninth-inning hit-by-pitch worn by sophomore second baseman James Cosentino.
“I was really disappointed that once we got guys on base, we lacked discipline at the plate,” Price said. “Marolf had really good movement on his pitches and our guys weren’t able to make the adjustments it took to be successful and chased the ball out of the zone.”
The Dillons Sunflower Showdown will be decided on national television Sunday, May 13 with a 12 p.m. first pitch on Fox Sports 1. Fans can also tune into an audio broadcast of the contest on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio or on the dial on KCTE.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Thirteen straight: Junior left fielder Devin Foyle hit a single in his first plate appearance of the night to extend his hitting streak to 13 games, tying Jaxx Groshans for the longest of the season. During the 13-game span, Foyle is batting .380 (19-for-50) with three doubles, four home runs, 11 runs scored and nine RBIs.
On patrol: Junior center fielder Rudy Karre recorded a season-high six putouts roaming the outfield grass. Of those six, four of them were plus-plays where he either had to dive or make an over-the-shoulder catch on the run to record the out.
“Karre made four phenomenal catches in the outfield,” Price said. “That might be the best game he has played since he has been out the University of Kansas.”
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