Kansas big inning bests Oklahoma State
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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Powered by a perfect performance at the plate by freshman second baseman James Cosentino and a five-run sixth inning, the Kansas baseball team evened the weekend conference series with a 6-5 win over Oklahoma State Friday night at Hoglund Ballpark.
The Jayhawks (16-18, 5-6 Big 12) erased a 5-1 deficit in the sixth frame with three hits and three walks off the Cowboys’ (20-14, 4-7 Big 12) pitching staff. All five runs in the frame were scored with no outs thanks in part by back-to-back RBI-walks issued by OSU starter Tyler Buffett and reliever Carson Teel (2-3).
Cosentino then drove a two-run single through the right side and junior shortstop Matt McLaughlin followed with an RBI-groundout to give Kansas its second and final lead of the night, 6-5.
“I am really proud of our approach at the plate tonight,” head coach Ritch Price said. “Buffett is one of the best guys in our conference and we were patient and let pitches go that were out of the zone. We worked walks and then Cosentino comes up and gets the huge two-run base knock – it ends up being a great team win for us.”
That win came on the heels of a lights-out performance from the Kansas bullpen. Junior starter Taylor Turski battled through five and 2/3 innings, giving up five runs, with only one of them earned. Then with two outs in the sixth inning, Price called to freshman Ryan Zeferjahn (4-3) to get out of the frame.
After that, it was the Blake Weiman and Stephen Villines show. The southpaw Weiman pitched back-to-back scoreless innings in the seventh and eighth, respectively, while Villines (9) came on to close it out in the ninth for the save. Combined, the duo faced 11 batters and recorded seven strikeouts – Weiman had five and Villines had two.
“After we tied the game, Weiman came in and was absolutely special for two innings,” Price said. “Then we hand the ball to the man (Villines) and he did what he has done so many times for us.”
The nail-biting finish came about after two crucial Kansas errors led to four Oklahoma State runs. In the top of the second inning, Cosentino dropped a routine popup in shallow center that led to two runs. Then in the top half of the sixth, sophomore centerfielder Rudy Karre and McLaughlin had some miscommunication and Karre dropped the fly ball that led to two more runs.
“You just can’t make mistakes like that defensively if you want to win in this conference,” Price said. “That is two nights in a row that we had some poor plays that led to runs. If we play clean defense, we have a good chance to win the series tomorrow.”
Cosentino reached base in all five plate appearances and finished the night 3-for-3 with a double, two singles, two hit-by-pitches, two RBIs and a run scored. Freshman right fielder Brett Vosik (2-for-4) and junior first baseman Owen Taylor (2-for-3) were the only other Jayhawks with multi-hit performances.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Five K’s: Weiman faced eight batters in order to record six outs between the seventh and eighth innings, respectively. Of those six outs, Weiman struck out five hitters. In his last three appearances, Weiman has not allowed a run, and has struck out nine batters in six and 1/3 innings pitched.
Patience: It took five innings for Kansas to figure out Buffett and in the sixth frame, it was all about discipline at the plate. Vosik and fellow classmate Kaimana Souza-Paaluhi led off the inning with back-to-back singles before sophomore third baseman David Kyriacou started a trend with the first of three-straight walks. Taylor and Karre followed suit, each picking up RBIs, before Cosentino knotted it up with the two-run single. The Jayhawks sent nine hitters to the dish and averaged 5.1 pitches per plate appearance, compared to the 3.7 pitches per plate appearance in the first five innings.
The man: Senior closer Stephen Villines converted his fifth-consecutive save opportunity with a perfect ninth, including two strikeouts. During the streak, Villines has thrown six innings and struck out eight batters, while allowing just one run.
Kansas and Oklahoma State conclude the series with a Saturday, April 15 rubber match set to begin at 1 p.m. Fans can listen to the game live on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio or on the official “Kansas Jayhawks” app.
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