Missouri State bats too hot for Jayhawk pitching
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Like the cold air gracing Hoglund Ballpark Tuesday night, the Kansas baseball team’s offense exhibited the same temperature in a loss to Missouri State, 12-2.
Missouri State (17-6) jumped out to an early six-run lead in the top of the second inning after the Bears knocked around Kansas (15-10) starter Jon Hander (0-2) for six hits, including two doubles and a triple. MSU put up another crooked number in the fifth to take a 10-run lead and the victory in the first game of the annual home-and-home series.
“Missouri State swung the bats really well and just took our pitching apart,” head coach Ritch Price said. “We are a little shorthanded right now on the pitching side, but that is no excuse. We just need someone to seize the opportunity and put some zeroes up for us.”
Missouri State starter Austin Knight (1-0) had no issues putting zeroes up and kept the Jayhawk offense quiet giving up just two runs off three hits. Junior left fielder Devin Foyle drove in one of those runs with a RBI-double, while junior third baseman David Kyriacou knocked in the other with his second home run of the season.
Outside of those two big knocks, Knight stifled the Kansas bats allowing just a single to redshirt-sophomore Brendt Citta, while striking out four batters. He forced KU into seven ground outs, seven fly outs and two double plays in his seven-inning outing.
Kansas recorded two more hits – one in the eighth and one in the ninth – but couldn’t string anything together. Junior Blake Shinkle singled up the middle in the eighth while freshman Blaine Ray drove one through the left side in the ninth.
Opposite of Knight, the Jayhawks used five different pitchers to piece together the nine-inning game. Sophomore Brandon Ponticelli came on in relief of Hander and tossed one and 1/3 innings, giving up five runs. Freshman Steve Washilewski pitched two innings of one-run ball and redshirt-freshman Jonah Ulane and freshman Conner VanCleave closed out the final two and 1/3 innings without allowing a run.
The Jayhawks continue their homestand with a three-game series against Morehead State, March 29-31, at Hoglund Ballpark. All three games will be available on ESPN3 via WatchESPN.com or on the ESPN app on selected devices. In addition, fans can tune into the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio to hear the live audio broadcast.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Hit-by-pitch: Jayhawk pitchers hit three Missouri State hitters and have now plunked 32 batters on the season. In games where Kansas hurlers hit two or more batters, they hold a record of 3-7. The KU pitching staff has hit at least one batter in 15 of its 25 games played.
Free passes: As a pitching staff, Kansas issued eight free passes – five walks and three hit-by-pitches. Those eight mark the eighth time this season that the Jayhawks have done that. In those eight games, KU holds a record of 1-7. Against the Bears, four of those free passes scored accounting for a quarter of their run total.
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