Krauth Deals in Jayhawks' 4-1 Win Over K-State
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Backed by a near complete game out of senior lefty Ben Krauth, the Kansas baseball team defeated Kansas State, 4-1, Friday night at Tointon Family Stadium in the series opener of the Sunflower Showdown.
The Jayhawks (20-29-1, 6-12 Big 12) relied on its ace through eight and 1/3 innings to shut down the Wildcats (24-26, 6-13 Big 12) – the No. 3 rated offense in the Big 12. Five of the first seven batters Krauth (5-5) faced reached base including four in the first inning that led to K-State’s lone run of the contest.
The southpaw nestled in during the second frame after inducing an inning-ending double play to save a run. That double play ignited a fire under Krauth who retired the next 14 batters in a row – six by way of the strikeout – to propel him to the ninth.
“Krauth was really special tonight,” head coach Ritch Price said. “There was not one person in our dugout that didn’t want to win tonight. I wanted to take him out after the eighth – he was at 119 pitches – but he persuaded me otherwise, so I sent him back out in the ninth.”
That fire to go back out allowed Krauth to face the two K-State lefties that led off the bottom of the inning. He gave up a lead-off single before punching out the next batter to finish his day with nine strikeouts. His 128-pitch effort was the longest of his career as he retired 20 of 24 batters to close the game.
Price then called to closer Stephen Villines (5) with one out and a runner a first. The sidearm slinger gave up a single and a walk to load the bases, before sitting the next two batters down on six-straight pitches to pick up his fifth save of the season.
“Our energy and enthusiasm was incredible,” Price said. “You could see when the game was over that everyone contributed even if they didn’t play.”
Contribution was key for Kansas as senior second baseman Colby Wright exited the game after the top of the first inning and forced Price to shuffle his defense. Senior Tommy Mirabelli moved from third to second, senior Ryan Pidhaichuk moved from first to third and sophomore Owen Taylor entered in Wright’s spot to play first base.
Those three made huge contributions. Pidhaichuk came to bat in the top of the second with runners at first and second and one out and smoked a RBI-single up the middle to tie the game. In the seventh, Taylor scorched a bases loaded sacrifice fly to center field to increase KU’s lead to two runs, while Mirabelli made every tough play at second including a bare hand double play ball to save a run.
“I was pleased with the guys that filled in,” Price said. “We were starting Wright at second base and he couldn’t go. I put Taylor in the game and he gets a crucial sacrifice fly. Mirabelli played great defense and Pidhaichuk got the first RBI of the game.”
The go ahead run for the Jayhawks come in the fifth inning when junior catcher Michael Tinsley extended his hitting streak to 13 games with a RBI-single through the right side. That run gave Krauth all the encouragement he needed as he held K-State to three hits in his final six and 1/3 innings pitched.
Seven different KU players tallied at least one hit with senior right fielder Joe Moroney leading the way with three and two runs scored. Junior centerfielder Joven Afenir and Pidhaichuk each finished with identical numbers with two hits and a RBI apiece.
With the win, Kansas snapped a six-game winless streak and won its first series opening bout against K-State since 2012.
The Sunflower Showdown continues Saturday with a 6:30 p.m. first pitch. Fans can watch the game live on Cox Kansas and ESPN3, while an audio broadcast is available on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio.
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