Kansas can't solve Oral Roberts' offense in loss
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas baseball surrendered five insurmountable runs in the first inning of what turned into a 12-1 loss to Oral Roberts on Tuesday afternoon during Kohorst Family MVP Club Day at Hoglund Ballpark.
Kansas (2-6) allowed 13 hits as four Golden Eagles (7-1) tallied two or more base knocks on the afternoon. KU recorded seven hits of its own, but wasn’t able to translate runners into runs, stranding 10 Jayhawks on base.
Forced to pitch by committee after freshman starting pitcher Ryan Zeferjahn (1-1) made it through two outs in his second collegiate start, head coach Ritch Price called on junior Blake Weiman to shut down the Oral Roberts bats in the opening frame.
“We got off to a really bad start,” Price said. “That buried us. The only way you can fight back being down early like that is if your bullpen comes in and gets you zeroes. Weiman did his job and got us out of the first and then threw up two zeroes. That is what you need if you want a chance at coming from behind.”
Weiman turned in two and 1/3 innings, surrendering no hits and keeping the score manageable in the early-going, 5-0. The Jayhawk offense was resilient facing the early deficit, loading the bases in the home half of the first and second, but couldn’t plate any runs until the bottom of the fourth inning.
“We have to play through,” Price said. “We need to keep grinding and work toward having better at bats. If we trust the process, by the end of the month, we will be a really good team.”
Senior short stop Matt McLaughlin, who had a team-high-tying two hits, accounted for Kansas’ lone run, 5-1, with an RBI single to left field in the bottom of the fourth inning. Just as it would throughout the remainder of the afternoon, KU’s offense once again stalled after McLaughlin’s RBI single, leaving runners on first and second to end the fourth inning.
“McLaughlin was really good over the weekend at Stanford,” Price said. “He was able to turn around and carry it into today.”
With a comfortable lead, Oral Roberts turned to its bullpen and kept the Jayhawks hitless after the home half of the fourth inning, while continuing to mount runs of its own.
The Golden Eagles tacked on their sixth run of the afternoon in the top half of the fifth inning after advancing base runners on a balk. A single to left field increased the score to, 6-1. ORU got to Kansas reliever Jackson Goddard later in the fifth on a three-run homerun to center field, increasing the lead to eight, 9-1. Back-to-back Golden Eagle homeruns in the top of the ninth sealed the contest at, 12-1.
Kansas continues its eight-game homestand when the Jayhawks play host to Northwestern State for a three-game series at Hoglund Ballpark March 3-5.
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