Kansas squanders extra-inning affair with Northwestern State
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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Looking for a sweep against Northwestern State, Kansas baseball came through in clutch spots, but a late blunder scored what turned out to be the game-winning run, 7-6, Sunday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark.
In the bottom of the ninth inning catcher Jaxx Groshans stepped to the plate as Kansas baseball’s last chance, trailing by two with runners on second and third base. The freshman ripped a single up the middle tying the game, 6-6, and sending the contest to extra innings.
“I told [David Kyriacou] in the on deck circle before that at bat that these are the types of moments I live for,” Groshans said. “It is not about me, but it is about us. I play for the name on the front of the jersey, not the back, and I wanted to help my team win.”
With the score knotted at six, Kansas pitcher Steven Villines (0-2) hit a Northwestern State batter, who later moved into scoring position by stealing second base. The Demons’ (4-6) Miller Parker cranked the next pitch to third base where a Jayhawk (4-7) misplay allowed the game-sealing run to score from second.
“One of the things I talked about before the game was the need to play it clean,” head coach Ritch Price said. “If we would have defended better we would have found a way to win the game. I do know this though, I have a lot of freshman and sophomores playing who are competing and trying as hard as they can. I do like the toughness we showed late in the game and the way we battled back and tied it up.”
The see-saw affair began in the third inning when Kansas starting pitcher Taylor Turski gave up his second home run of the year. The blast occurred on a 2-2 count with two outs to give the Demons a 3-0 advantage.
A trio of singles got Kansas onto the board in the next frame. Left fielder Devin Foyle recorded a base-knock and later came around to score when centerfielder Rudy Karre poked a ball through the left side, 3-1.
Northwestern State made a pitching change in the sixth which turned out to aid the Jayhawks offensively. Taylor Winders entered the game and immediately walked Karre, while a wild pitch moved him into scoring position at second base a batter later. Second baseman James Cosentino popped a lazy ball to center field where the Demons’ centerfielder misjudged the flight and allowed Karre to score from second on the error, 3-2.
Groshans tallied one of his three RBIs after putting a charge into the next pitch, tying the game with Cosentino on third due to the error, 3-3, in the home half of the sixth. Kansas took the lead when right fielder Brett Vosik lined a ball to right, scoring Groshans for the 4-3 advantage.
The Demons then tied the game up in the eighth, touching up relief pitcher Zack Leban for a run after stringing together three-straight hard-hit singles. An error on a sacrifice bunt gifted the Demons the lead in the same frame, 5-4. A sacrifice fly followed and Kansas found itself in a two-run hole, 6-4.
In a dire situation with two outs in the ninth inning, Groshans knocked the game into extra innings, but 10th-inning miscues hurt the Jayhawks’ chances to walk away with a sweep, settling for victories in 2-of-3 weekend contests against the Demons.
Vosik led all hitters with a 3-for-4 effort at the plate with a RBI and a walk, while Groshans finished the day 2-for-4 with a team-high three RBIs. Shortstop Matt McLaughlin (2-for-5) and Karre (2-for-4) were the only other Jayhawks with multi-hit efforts with McLaughlin now hitting safely in his last six games.
Kansas continues its homestand Wednesday, March 8, as the Jayhawks play host to Omaha at 3 p.m.
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