Lack of Timely Hitting Dooms Jayhawks in Loss to BYU, 8-2
LAWRENCE, Kan. – For the fourth time in nine games the Kansas baseball team stranded 12 baserunners as the Jayhawks dropped game two of a three-game set to BYU, 8-2, Friday evening at Hoglund Ballpark.
Kansas (3-6) left at least one runner on base in all but one inning, the ninth. The Jayhawks’ prime opportunities to drive in those runners came in the fourth and sixth innings, where BYU (9-1) used pitching and defense to work itself out of each jam.
Senior third baseman Ryan Pidhaichuk singled with two outs in the fourth to get it going for KU. Freshman right fielder Rudy Karre followed and drew the four-pitch walk and the duo advanced to second and third after a failed pickoff attempt to bring up junior centerfielder Joven Afenir. Faced with a 2-2 count, Afenir drove one down the line in left where BYU outfielder Eric Urry made a diving catch to save the runs and keep it a tie game, 2-2.
“The biggest play of the game was in the fourth inning when Afenir hit the ball to left field and [Urry] made the diving play,” head coach Ritch Price said. “You go from taking the lead and having (junior catcher) Michael Tinsley come up with two guys on who is red hot – that is what team’s do when they are 9-1. They are getting clutch two-out hits and making diving plays in the outfield.”
Then in the sixth inning with KU trailing 4-2, with one out and the bases loaded, the Cougars made a move and went to their bullpen to bring in Jordan Wood to close out the final three and 2/3 innings for his first save of the season.
Kansas sent the two hitters it wanted to the plate to face Wood in the sixth in Afenir and sophomore shortstop Matt McLaughlin. Afenir worked a 2-2 count and fouled a couple pitches off before going down on strikes. McLaughlin, who is just one of a handful of Division I baseball players yet to strikeout this season, popped the second pitch he saw high on the infield right at the second baseman, leaving all three runners on base and the Cougars ahead, 4-2.
“We had opportunities and had our best guys up,” Price said. “We had Afenir up, McLaughlin up – those guys were up with the bases loaded. We keep grinding and we have gotten better. We have made some progress at the backend at the plate – Pidhaichuk has helped us at the bottom of the lineup. Until we start swinging the bats better – seven, eight and nine in the lineup – we are going to leave a lot of runners on base.”
Kansas is batting .188 with runners on base and .162 with runners in scoring position. Tinsley and senior second baseman Colby Wright led the Jayhawks with multi-hit performances. Tinsley finished with two base knocks, a RBI and two stolen bases. Wright hit a triple, a double and scored a run.
Senior lefty Ben Krauth (0-2) gave up four runs off eight hits and three walks, striking out three batters in five innings of work. Sophomore Blake Weiman allowed three runs in one inning of relief, while senior Sam Gilbert walked in a run with the bases loaded.
The bright spot on the mound came in the final two frames when Kansas called to freshman Blake Goldsberry to close out the game. The rookie pitcher faced six batters and sat them down in order, including two strikeouts in 22 pitches.
“Goldsberry is the same guy that gave up a five-spot to Utah a week ago,” Price said. “He really did a nice job. His fastball had good velocity on it and he did a nice job with his changeup. That wasn’t the same guy we saw pitch last week. It was a huge step forward for him.”
With the basketball game taking place at Allen Fieldhouse Saturday at 3 p.m., the Kansas baseball game has been moved up to a 10:30 a.m. first pitch. It will still be available to watch live on ESPN3 in addition to a live audio broadcast on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio.
Fans without basketball parking passes in lots surrounding Hoglund Ballpark (Lots 31, 71, 125 or 127) wishing to attend the baseball game will need to park across Naismith Drive in Lot 90. Vehicles in Lot 90 that do not have a valid basketball parking pass for that lot will need to be moved immediately following the baseball game to avoid being ticketed. Fans with a valid basketball parking pass in any of those respective lots can park as normal for both games that day.
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