Late Kansas heroics downs 'Lopes
PHOENIX, Ariz. – Back-to-back pinch-hit RBI-singles in the top of the seventh inning propelled the Kansas baseball team to its first road victory of the season, 6-5, over Grand Canyon Wednesday afternoon at Brazell Field inside GCU Ballpark.
Sophomore Jaxx Groshans came off the bench and roped a ball into right field to drive in the tying run, and junior David Kyriacou followed suit with a ground ball through the right side to give the Jayhawks (13-8) its first lead of the game that held through until the end.
“You have to produce with runners in scoring position,” head coach Ritch Price said. “Groshans is one of our best hitters so you expect that from him with runners on base. Kyriacou has been struggling, but he clutched up and did what he needed to do to put us ahead.”
Kansas pounded out 15 hits against Grand Canyon (7-13) pitching to snap its four-game winless streak, but kept the ‘Lopes in the game after committing a season-high six errors. GCU scored five runs, but only two were earned, both coming off redshirt-sophomore starter Brandon Ponticelli.
Ponticelli hurled his way through two and 2/3 innings giving up four runs off two hits and a walk. Sophomore righty Gabriel Sotomayor relieved Ponticelli and pitched two and 1/3 innings of scoreless ball. That effort by Sotomayor allowed Price to use the backend of his bullpen in redshirt-sophomore Ryan Cyr (4-1) and junior closer Zack Leban (9).
“Despite the errors, it ends up being a really good win,” Price said. “We stopped our losing momentum and it was a really hard fought team win.”
That hard fought win may not have been possible if Sotomayor hadn’t been clutch in a bases loaded, nobody out situation. Sotomayor caught a line shot right back at him and doubled the runner off first base. The next hitter flew out to center field and the Jayhawks came out of the fifth inning unscathed.
“That was the biggest play of the game,” Price said. “It was crucial that we found a way to get out of that situation and Sotomayor made a heads up play to keep the momentum in our favor.”
Cyr pitched the sixth and seventh innings with that momentum allowing one hit and one unearned run. Leban came on in the eighth for the six-out save and is now a perfect 9-for-9 in save opportunities.
Aiding the pitching effort, five different Jayhawks boasted multi-hit affairs in sophomore second baseman James Cosentino (2-for-5), sophomore designated hitter Brett Vosik (3-for-5), redshirt-sophomore right fielder Brendt Citta (2-for-4), senior first baseman Owen Taylor (2-for-5) and sophomore shortstop Benjamin Sems (2-for-4). Citta led the squad with two runs scored while six different hitters recorded a RBI.
Kansas resumes Big 12 play Friday, March 23, when it opens a three-game series at Baylor.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Sotomayor: With bases loaded and nobody out in the bottom of the fifth inning, sophomore righty Gabriel Sotomayor stabbed a line drive out of the air and doubled the runner off first base. That play snatched any momentum GCU had and kep the ‘Lopes off the board in the frame.
Pinch hitters: After being left out of the starting lineup in today’s contest, sophomore Jaxx Groshans and junior David Kyriacou came off the bench and delivered the two biggest hits of the game. Groshans’ RBI-single to right field tied the game, while Kyriacou’s grounder through the right side put KU up by a run.
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