Jayhawks split in abbreviated games
11/23 – Arrive in DR
11/24 – vs. San Francisco
11/24 – vs. MLB All-Stars
11/24 – Community Service
11/25 – vs. Philadelphia
11/25 – vs. Kansas City
11/25 – Community Service
11/26 – vs. Kansas City
11/27 – Return to Kansas
BOCA CHICA, Dominican Republic – The Kansas baseball team posted a record of 1-1 in split-squad action Thursday morning in the Dominican Republic as the Jayhawks battled against the San Francisco Giants affiliated team and a local youth all-star squad.
Both games ended in the eighth inning, but for different reasons. At the Giants complex, heavy rains hit the area and left the field unplayable with bases loaded and no outs with the Jayhawks fighting from a 4-1 deficit. In the city ballpark an hour away, the youth squad ran out of pitching and the game was called in favor of KU.
“I thought we performed better as the game went on,” head coach Ritch Price said of his squad against the Giants. “Some of the guys that had really bad at bats earlier in the game came back and had really good at bats there in the eighth inning, and I really believe that if the rain didn’t come, we had a chance to win it.”
Redshirt-junior Sean Rackoski started on the bump for Kansas against San Francisco and lasted four innings. The righty faced 21 batters, gave up six hits and three walks, and recorded one strikeout. He left the game trailing 4-0 after giving up three earned runs. Sophomore reliever Blake Goldsberry closed out the final three innings and gave up two hits against 11 batters, striking out two.
“I have an expectation of (Rackoski) that every time we hand him the ball, he has to pitch like he is a legitimate Friday night guy,” Price said. “Unfortunately today, he didn’t have his best stuff.”
Rackoski wasn’t the only Jayhawk with a slow start, in fact, the team itself was sluggish through the first three frames. Maybe the 6:30 a.m. (4:30 a.m. CT) wake-up call played a factor after Kansas jumped two time zones to get to the Dominican Republic.
However, junior shortstop Matt McLaughlin doesn’t think it played a huge factor.
“There is a lot of excitement when you know you are going to play somebody else,” McLaughlin said. “You could tell through the first few innings some of the guys were tired – we didn’t have the best energy in the dugout. As the game went on, we strung some hits together and the energy picked up. It is tough to travel, but you can’t let that dictate how you play.”
Travel didn’t hurt McLaughlin as he came right out of the gates to give Kansas its first hit of the game in the first inning, and later was part of the eighth-inning rally where he had a base knock and a run scored. He was the only Jayhawk with a multi-hit performance with second baseman James Cosentino, left fielder Devin Foyle, right fielder Brett Vosik and catcher Tanner Gragg recording one hit apiece.
“Overall I thought it was a good performance, and that is what we came here for,” Price said. “We didn’t play real well early, but we rallied together late and put ourselves in a position to win before the rain hit. That is all you can ask.”
At the other site, the Jayhawks faced an all-star team comprised of Dominican youth players who are waiting to sign with professional academies. Over 50 scouts, including former Major League All-Star and Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar, were there to watch the all-star squad.
Kansas defeated the all-star team 2-0 thanks in part by Owen Taylor and MJ Farthing. Taylor finished with a base knock and two walks while Farthing drove in one of the two runs.
Fans can follow along with daily updates on KUAthletics.com, or by following the “Baseball Tours the Dominican Republic” blog.
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