Late Kansas rally falls short in series opener with Baylor
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas baseball team scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to pull within a run, but Baylor bullpen outmatched the young bats and the Jayhawks fell in the series opener, 5-4, Friday night at Hoglund Ballpark.
Kansas (21-21, 8-8 Big 12) fell behind early after its lefty ace Taylor Turski (2-4) got roughed up for five runs in the first three frames. Baylor (26-16, 7-9 Big 12) took advantage of three early walks off Turski to score three of its five runs – two on a three-run blast from first baseman Aaron Dodson in the second and one off a RBI-groundout in the third by right fielder Kameron Esthay.
“Those walks were the difference in the game,” head coach Ritch Price said. “That home run is fine. The triple they hit is fine, but when you combine those with the three walks, it just killed us in the ballgame.”
Turski settled in after the third inning and went on to throw up four zeroes and give the Jayhawks the chance at a comeback as they trailed 5-1 after three.
That rally came in the bottom of the sixth inning when Kansas plated three runs. Sophomore left fielder Devin Foyle, freshman designated hitter Jaxx Groshans and juniors catcher Tanner Gragg and first baseman Owen Taylor each singled in the inning to carry out the rally. A Baylor error extended the frame and the Jayhawks pulled within a run, 5-4.
Kansas then had prime opportunities to tie it up in the bottom of the seventh and eighth innings, respectively.
In the seventh, the Jayhawks had the bases loaded with two outs, and Gragg struck out on three pitches. Then in the eighth, Taylor led off with a double and his pinch runner, sophomore Blake Shinkle, advanced to third on a wild pitch with no outs. However, The Bears’ reliever Kyle Hill struck out the next three hitters – sophomore centerfielder Rudy Karre, freshman second baseman James Cosentino and junior shortstop Matt McLaughlin –to leave him stranded at third.
“We had plenty of opportunities to score there late,” Price said. “Baylor’s bullpen came in and did a really nice job and punched out our best hitters. They just threw the fastball right by our guys. We had the table set to come all the way back and to their credit, their pitchers were better than our hitters.”
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Six-straight zeroes: After giving up five runs in the first three innings, Turski settled in and threw up four-straight zeroes before turning it over to the bullpen. Sophomore Zack Leban pitched a scoreless eighth before junior Blake Weiman tossed a clean ninth. Those scoreless innings gave the Jayhawks a chance to comeback late after cutting the lead to a run in the sixth.
Stranded at third: In three-straight innings, starting in the sixth, the Jayhawks stranded the tying run at third base. Cosentino flied out to center field in the sixth and then Gragg struck out on three-straight pitches in the eighth. The best opportunity to knot it up came in the eighth when Kansas had a runner at third and no outs, but BU reliever Hill struck out the one-two-three hitters (Karre, Cosentino and McLaughlin) for the Jayhawks to preserve the Bears’ lead, 5-4.
Walks will kill you: Turski allowed three walks in his seven-inning outing and all three baserunners came around to score. In the third, the southpaw walked two, who both scored on a three-run home run by Dodson. Then in the fourth, his free pass came around to score on a RBI-groundout by Esthay. Take away those three runs and it was a 4-2 ballgame in favor of Kansas.
Game two of the weekend set against the Bears is slated for Saturday, April 29 at 2 p.m. Fans can watch the game live on ESPN3 or tune into the audio broadcast on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio or on the official “Kansas Jayhawks” app.
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