Rackoski’s career day lifts Kansas against Bulldogs

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Redshirt-junior right-handed pitcher Sean Rackoski tied a career-high seven strikeouts in a personal-best six and 2/3 innings on the bump as the Kansas baseball team defeated Samford, 6-4, Friday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark.
Rackoski (3-2) cruised through three innings until the Bulldogs (13-9) reached base for the first time in the fourth with a one-out single. The hurler worked to strand that baserunner and paced Kansas (10-11) through the next three frames to pick up his third win of the season in six starts.
“I thought Rackoski was really solid out there today,” head coach Ritch Price said. “He was able to keep Samford off balance with his breaking ball. You know, that is a really good ball club over there. They came in here with 13 wins and four against Power 5 schools. Rackoski had a good performance.”
The six foot, seven inch Rackoski pitched his way further into a game than he ever had before by 1/3 inning and exited with runners at first and second and two outs with a 5-0 lead.
A bloop-single off junior reliever Blake Weiman to center field halted the shutout-bid and Rackoski’s day ended allowing one run off seven hits and a walk while striking out seven batters.
Weiman then worked to get the final out of the frame, but not before he gave up the one base knock to drive in the one run. He then went back out and toed the rubber in the top of the eighth, where the Bulldogs loaded the bases off him with a double, walk and hit-by-pitch.
Price then called to his closer Stephen Villines (4) with the bases juiced and one out in the inning. Villines gave up a two-run double down the left field line to Samford pinch hitter Matthew Bennett. An RBI-groundout and a strikeout followed to get out of the inning, but the Bulldogs pulled within one, 5-4.
“That is a good hitting club over there,” Price said. “They squared up a lot of baseballs earlier in the game, and found some holes late. Villines was able to come in and put out the fire in the eighth and pick up the save to preserve the win.”
Kansas was able to hold on to the victory, thanks in large part to the four-run fourth and the lone insurance run in the bottom of the eighth. Five different Jayhawks amounted to the five base knocks on the day with junior first baseman Owen Taylor recording the only extra-base hit, an RBI-double in the fourth.
Sophomore Blake Shinkle scored that lone insurance run after swiping his third-career stolen base with no outs in the eighth inning. Shinkle pinch ran for fellow classmate David Kyriacou after he drew a four-pitch walk to start the frame.
Kansas and Samford continue the series Saturday, March 25 at 2 p.m. The game can be seen on ESPN3 or heard on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio or the official “Kansas Jayhawks” app.
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