Kansas bullpen falters in Sunday loss at Oklahoma State

STILLWATER, Okla. – After a stellar comeback start from junior righty Jackson Goddard, the Kansas bullpen surrendered a three-run lead to Oklahoma State to drop its seventh-straight contest, 4-3, Sunday afternoon at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
The Jayhawks (19-20, 3-11 Big 12) shutout Oklahoma State (22-14, 11-3 Big 12) through six innings, until junior reliever Zack Leban (2-1) surrendered a four-spot in the bottom of the seventh that stood to be the difference maker in the game.
“We were asking a lot of Leban to go out there in the seventh and pitch three innings,” head coach Ritch Price said. “With the abbreviated start from Goddard, that forced us to use our bullpen and use it early. Asking Leban to pitch three innings to close it out was a tall task.”
That task fell to him after Goddard made his return in abbreviated fashion after missing six weeks due to a strained oblique. In his first start back, Goddard retired the first seven batters he faced, all via the strikeout. His only blemish came on that eighth hitter in the third, where he gave up a single and then back-to-back walks. However, he struck out the final batter of the frame to strand the bases loaded.
He returned for the fourth and retired the side in order, inducing three-straight fly outs to junior Rudy Karre in center field. The shortened start ended after 68 pitches and four innings pitched. Goddard gave up that one hit and those two walks, retiring 12 of the 15 batters he faced.
“That was the highlight of the day,” Price said. “I don’t know if I have ever seen a performance like that from someone coming back from an injury.”
During that four-inning span Goddard was on the mound, the Jayhawks built a three-run lead scoring a single run in each the first, second and fourth innings, respectively.
Kansas opened the game with three-straight singles to score its first run. Then in the second, redshirt-sophomore Brendt Citta led off with a hit-by-pitch and eventually scored on a two-out RBI-single by sophomore shortstop Benjamin Sems. Then, junior left fielder Devin Foyle took matters into his own hands and led off the fourth with a solo shot to right.
With that three-run lead, the Jayhawks called to redshirt-sophomore reliever Ryan Cyr for the next inning and 2/3 and senior righty Tyler Davis for a 1/3 of a frame, before handing the ball to Leban in the seventh.
“We hit the ball really well all weekend,” Price said. “The good thing is we made progress from a week ago with the bats. Our offensive numbers have been good all year. We hit some balls really hard this weekend that were caught. The only things I was disappointed in was stranded runners in scoring position with less than two outs.”
Oklahoma State used three hits and two walks in that seventh frame to score its four runs off Leban and sucked the momentum from the KU dugout. The Jayhawks went down in order in both the eighth and ninth innings and lost its first game of the season after leading through six innings (14-1).
Kansas takes on Wichita State in midweek action on Tuesday, April 24 with a 6 p.m. first pitch, before hitting the road for a nonconference weekend series at Cincinnati on April 27-29.
Forty-four days: Junior right hander Jackson Goddard made his first start in conference play this season at Oklahoma State (April 22) and his first start since March 9, 2018. That marks a stretch of 44 days between starts as Goddard was out of the rotation due to strained oblique.
Seven-straight K’s: In his first start back from injury, junior righty Jackson Goddard retired the first seven hitters he faced at Oklahoma State (April 22) via the strikeout. It took Goddard 34 pitches to record those seven strikeouts. His season high entering the game was also seven, and he broke that with an eight-strikeout performance in four innings pitched.

FOLLOW /KansasBaseball

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