No. 4 Texas Tech big innings too much for Jayhawks
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LUBBOCK, Texas – A four-spot in the fifth inning broke a 1-1 stalemate and the No. 4-ranked Red Raiders went on to score another 11 runs, as the Kansas baseball team fell in game two of the series, 16-4, Friday night at Rip Griffin Park.
Against arguably the best lineup in the Big 12 Conference, freshman righty Ryan Zeferjahn (4-5) did all he could to keep Kansas (29-25, 11-12 Big 12) in the game after his number was called for an emergency start. Junior lefty Taylor Turski was a last-minute scratch with elbow soreness.
Zeferjahn surrendered a run in the first inning, but settled in to throw up three-straight zeroes. The Red Raiders (41-13, 15-8 Big 12) found their stroke in the fifth and knocked Zeferjahn around for four runs, including a huge three-run shot by freshman third baseman Josh Jung. That four-spot ended Zeferjahn’s day after 93 pitches where he gave up five runs off five hits and three walks.
“Given the situation, if you would have told me Zeferjahn would have held those guys to one run through four innings, I would take it,” head coach Ritch Price said. “He battled and gave us a chance, but lost some command in the fifth and kept the ball elevated. That is when they took advantage.”
The Jayhawks played even with Texas Tech through the first four innings, after a lead-off triple by freshman catcher Jaxx Groshans scored on a wild pitch in the second. That run erased a rocky start for the rookie Zeferjahn where the Red Raiders scored in the first off a walk and a single.
Even after leveling the playing field with that run in the second frame, Kansas couldn’t find an answer for TTU starter Ryan Shetter (4-0). After that Groshans’ triple, Shetter retired 17-straight Jayhawks, until Groshans snapped it with a single in the seventh. The only other KU player to snag a base knock in that dominant performance was junior shortstop Matt McLaughlin with a two-out double in the first.
“Shetter absolutely dominated our young left-handed hitters,” Price said. “That was one of the most dominant pitching performances I have seen all season against us. I think he ended with 11 strikeouts.”
That stagnant offensive showing paved the way for Texas Tech crooked numbers in the fifth, sixth and eighth innings, respectively, where the Red Raiders combined to score 15 runs in their final four at bats. Kansas showed some life with a three-spot in the top of the eighth, but the damage was done and the Jayhawks fell, 16-4.
“I think that Texas Tech team is better than the College World Series team a year ago,” Price said. “That is by far the best offense, best defense and best pitching in our league – the most complete team.”
Groshans and McLaughlin each had two of the team’s seven hits. Freshman pinch hitters Kaimana Souza-Paaluhi and Mateo Zunica, and sophomore left fielder Devin Foyle had the other three.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Nine up, nine down: After allowing a run in the first inning, freshman righty Ryan Zeferjahn settled in and retired nine-straight Texas Tech hitters, before a one-out single in the bottom of the fourth snapped the streak. He got out of the fourth unscathed, stranding that runner after retiring the next two hitters.
Groshans bookends 17-straight: Freshman catcher Jaxx Groshans tripled off the wall in the center field to start the second inning, and after that, Texas Tech starter Ryan Shetter retired 17-straight Kansas hitters. That streak ended in the seventh inning when Groshans singled with two outs.
The regular-season finale at No. 4 Texas Tech is slated for Saturday, May 20, with a 2 p.m. first pitch. Fans can watch the game live on Fox Sports Southwest plus, or online at FoxSportsGo.com. In addition, fans can tune to the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio or on the official “Kansas Jayhawks” app to listen in.
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