Late rally paces Jayhawks in win at Grand Canyon

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PHOENIX, Ariz. – A six-run sixth inning by the Kansas baseball team erased a two-run deficit as the Jayhawks swept a two-game series at Grand Canyon, 7-3, Wednesday afternoon at Brazell Stadium.
Kansas (21-20) trailed the Lopes (19-21) 3-1 headed into the top half of the sixth inning when GCU opted to bring in reliever Degan Harte (0-6). The Jayhawks sent 12 to the plate in the inning and hit up Grand Canyon for six runs on five hits, two walks and three hit-by-pitches in the frame. KU scored the first two runs off back-to-back hit-by-pitches to tie up the game for the second-straight time in as many days.
“That was a huge win for us,” head coach Ritch Price said. “We got a bump in the RPI after last night’s win and today, we should get another bump. That puts us in a prime position to go into these last few weekends of the season with a chance to do something special.”
That six-run rally wouldn’t have continued if it wasn’t for freshman right fielder Brett Vosik. The lefty bat came to the plate with the bases loaded, two down and the game tied, 3-3. Vosik worked a 2-2 count and hit a sure two-run flare to left field, and that’s when the game got interesting.
GCU left fielder Quin Cotton charged hard on the hit and slid feet-first to make the play when third-base umpire Jason Rogers made the out call. The Lopes sprinted off the field in hopes of preserving a 3-3 tie, however, after much deliberation, it was determined that Cotton trapped the ball and the out was waved off and Kansas took the lead, 4-3.
Four-straight two-out RBI-singles followed and the Jayhawks took a four-run lead, 7-3, off one of Grand Canyon’s top relievers, AJ Franks.
“We took advantage of their pitchers’ wildness,” Price said. “Grand Canyon was using its bullpen to preserve its pitching for the weekend and they were a little wild and we took advantage.”
The Jayhawks broke open the scoring in the top of the third inning after freshman second baseman James Cosentino drove a RBI-single to right field – one of his four hits on the day. Junior catcher Tanner Gragg scored easily from third base before sophomore centerfielder Rudy Karre try to do the same from second, but was thrown out at the dish to end the inning.
Grand Canyon answered right back in the home half of the inning. Kansas junior reliever Tyler Davis allowed back-to-back one-out walks before GCU centerfielder Preston Pavlica tagged him for a three-run home run to left field. Those three runs off Davis stood as the Lopes only of the game, as the KU bullpen threw up six-straight zeroes to preserve the victory, 7-3.
Cosentino led all hitters with a perfect showing at plate (4-for-4) that included a double, two RBIs, a run scored and a walk – all after a 0-for-5 effort the day before. Karre finished the day 2-for-5 with a RBI while Vosik was the only other Jayhawk with a multi-hit performance with base knocks, a RBI and a run.
“Our team has made a huge step forward from the beginning of the season,” Price said. “Our bullpen has become one of the best and how about Cosentino. He goes 0-for-5 last night with a couple of strikeouts and comes back today and is 4-for-4 with a walk. That is the kind of maturity I am talking about with this ball club.”
Four-straight K’s: Junior Blake Weiman came on to pitch in the sixth inning after Kansas took the 7-3 lead. The southpaw faced four batters in relief for the Jayhawks and struck out all of them on 16 pitches. He struck out the first three on a 10-pitch effort to retire the side in the sixth before recording the first out of the seventh.
The right call: With the game tied, 3-3, in the top of the sixth, Vosik flared a ball to left field. GCU left fielder Quin Cotton caught the ball on a short hop, and it was initially ruled an out to end the inning. After some discussion between the umpire crew, it was decided that the ball was trapped between Cotton’s glove and outfield grass, thus resulting in the go-ahead RBI-single for Vosik. Three-straight two-out RBI-singles followed and the Jayhawks blew the game open.
Perfection: After an 0-for-5 day at the plate Tuesday night, Cosentino turned around and posted a perfect 4-for-4 effort with a double, two RBIs and a run scored. As a result, he has raised his batting average to .283 and is just .002 points from taking over the team lead in that category (Matt McLaughlin, .285).
RBI-hit-by-pitches: For the second-straight day, Kansas scored two runs with the bases loaded off back-to-back hit-by-pitches. In the top of the sixth inning, freshman designated hitter Jaxx Groshans and sophomore third baseman David Kyriacou wore pitches to drive in one run apiece and tie the game up, 3-3, and set the table for Vosik’s go-ahead at bat.
Kansas returns to Hoglund Ballpark Friday, April 28, when the Jayhawks open up an 11-game homestand beginning with a three-game conference series against Baylor. First pitch Friday night is slated for 6 p.m.  The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more. 
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