Kansas bats salvage weekend series against Baylor
LAWRENCE, Kan. – In the night cap of a Sunday doubleheader at Hoglund Ballpark, the Kansas baseball team erupted for seven extra-base hits, including two home runs, to defeat Baylor, 6-1, in an abbreviated seven-inning game.
Kansas (22-22, 9-9 Big 12) boasted five doubles and two home runs off four different Baylor (27-17, 8-10 Big 12) pitchers, tallying nine total hits on the day. Freshman second baseman James Cosentino and sophomore left fielder Devin Foyle each blasted a two-run home run, while junior shortstop Matt McLaughlin finished the day with two doubles.
“After the way we struggled Friday night and in game one today, it was nice to see some of our players clutch up and score early,” head coach Ritch Price said. “I think that takes the pressure off a young team like we have. You can almost feel the sense of relief that we are over the hump and we can relax and have good at bats.”
In the first two games combined, the Jayhawks tallied just two extra-base hits – two doubles – and five runs, all while striking out 10 times in each contest. Through Sunday evenings’ seven-inning game – it was called due to Baylor’s travel schedule – KU more than tripled that number in an effort to avoid being swept.
“If you drop that game today, you have to win the last two series of the year to get back to .500 in the league,” Price said. “By salvaging that game today, we control our own destiny – it is absolutely crucial to find a way to avoid being swept.”
Freshman righty Ryan Zeferjahn toed the rubber and gave Price and his ball club four solid innings of scoreless baseball before turning the game over to the bullpen. Junior lefty Blake Weiman (2-1) pitched two scoreless frames before sophomore Zack Leban and senior closer Stephen Villines closed it out.
“We told Zeferjahn we were only going to pitch him four or five innings and turn it over to the bullpen,” Price said. “He gave us four quality innings and then the strength of our team took over.”
McLaughlin (2-for-3), Foyle (2-for-4) and freshman designated hitter Jaxx Groshans (2-for-4) paced the Jayhawks at the plate with multi-hit performances. Both of McLaughlin’s hits were doubles, Groshans had a single and a double, and Foyle paved the way with a double and his first home run of the season. Cosentino added a team-best two runs scored to go along with his second career bomb, that he hit in the fourth inning.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Two home runs: For the third time this season, the Jayhawks blasted two home runs in a game. A right-handed batting Foyle drove one over the wall in left center, while Cosentino, who bats lefty, drilled one opposite field almost to the same spot. Kansas won all three games that it hit two home runs in this year, the last coming on April 11 against Wichita State.
Seven extra-base hits: Kansas blasted seven extra-base hits in the series finale against Baylor – five doubles and two home runs. That is the most extra-base hits in a game this season for KU since it tallied three doubles and a home run against Northwestern State (March 4).
Kansas continues its homestand when it plays host to Missouri State, Tuesday, May 2 at Hoglund Ballpark. First pitch against the Bears is slated for 6 p.m.
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