Kansas falls at No. 4 Florida State
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – With a taxed bullpen facing a potent offense, the Kansas baseball couldn’t overcome five costly errors, as the Jayhawks fell to No. 4 Florida State, 12-7, Tuesday night at Dick Howser Stadium.
Kansas (8-4) used seven different pitchers in an attempt to keep the Seminoles’ (13-0) bats at bay. However, FSU continued its streak of consecutive runs scored from last night going and extended it to 16 before KU plated a pair of runs in the top of the fifth inning.
“We needed to come down here and play a top-five team to get us ready for conference play,” head coach Ritch Price said. “We needed to play a perennial power in a hostile environment, because that is all we are going to see in Big 12 play.”
The Jayhawks’ pitching staff struggled with its command and in turn, Florida State scored at least one run in each of the first six innings it stepped to the plate. KU’s defense didn’t help matters much extending innings with five errors.
In the first inning, FSU used an error by senior first baseman Luke Bakula to score a pair of unearned runs. Then in the third inning with bases loaded and two outs, sophomore shortstop Benjamin Sems bobbled a ball and then threw it away to allow another pair of runs score – four of the first six runs the Seminoles scored came via a Kansas error.
“That was one of the worst defensive performances I have seen in my time here,” Price said. “We pitched about as bad as we played defense. We allowed 10 free passes and then extended innings with errors. When you set the table for a perennial power, it is hard to keep them from scoring, and you can see that with today’s outcome.”
Even with the early errors and a six-run deficit, Kansas still had some fight. Sophomore designated hitter Jaxx Groshans led off the fourth inning with a home run to left center field. Junior left fielder Devin Foyle followed suit in the same frame with a towering shot off the video board in left to cut the deficit to four runs, 6-2.
Florida State got those runs back and then some, before senior Owen Taylor had something to say about it. The switch hitter entered the game in the fourth inning for Bakula on defense and made the most of his opportunity. In his first plate appearance in the sixth, Taylor hit a moon shot of a home run to right field that was still gaining altitude as it sailed over the 25-foot fence.
That two-run bomb rounded out a three-home run day for the Jayhawks – the most in a game since May 5, 2017, when the same feat was accomplished against Texas Southern.
“I was pleased with how we swung the bats,” Price said. “We came down here to see velocity and get prepared to play in our conference, and that is about as good of an offensive performance as I could have hoped for. That should give our guys confidence moving forward.”
Groshans (3-for-5) finished the day with three of KU’s nine hits, including that home run, and led all Jayhawk hitters. Redshirt-sophomore Brendt Citta (2-for-4) was the only other player to record a multi-hit effort.
Kansas is back in action Friday, March 9, when it opens a three-game series against St. John’s at Hoglund Ballpark.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Errors: The Jayhawks recorded a season-high five errors in their loss at No. 4 Florida State. Those errors were the most in a game since Feb. 24, 2014, against St. Bonaventure, when KU matched that number five miscues.
Home Runs: For the first time since May 5, 2017, Kansas hit three home runs in a game. Through 12 games in 2017, KU had hit just three home runs. Through the first 12 games of 2018, the Jayhawks have hit nine bombs. In addition, Kansas’ slugging percentage is up .138 points at this point in the season last year from .334 to .468.
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