Samford big innings too much for Kansas in loss

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Back-to-back Samford crooked numbers in the fifth and sixth innings were too much for the KU baseball team Sunday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark as the Jayhawks fell to the Bulldogs, 6-1.
Kansas (10-13) held the early advantage through the first four frames, 1-0, until Samford (15-9) knocked around the Jayhawks’ right-handed starter Jackson Goddard (2-1) in the fifth inning.
“We are giving up crooked number innings, there is no doubt about it,” head coach Ritch Price said. “It goes back to the fact that we have to eliminate walks and make plus-plays defensively. In the innings they scored multiple runs, we had opportunities to get out of it but didn’t play clean enough to do so.”
Goddard cruised through the first four innings where he allowed just two base hits while striking out four batters. The Bulldogs’ bats came alive in the fifth and they managed to load the bases with no outs. Goddard settled in and induced the quick fly out, but Samford’s T.J. Dixon roped a 1-2 pitch to right field for the two-run double and the lead. An RBI-groundout by Branden Fryman followed and Kansas found itself in a manageable 3-1 hole.
With the two-run deficit, the Jayhawks couldn’t find an answer for Samford starter Stephen Jones (2-1). Aside from the one run he allowed in the third inning off two singles, Jones kept Kansas off the scoreboard in five of his six innings pitched and struck out six batters in the process.
“Jones just dominated our left-handed hitters,” Price said. “He threw his fastball for a strike and we were late on it. Then he would throw the changeup in fastball counts – he absolutely dominated our left handers in the lineup. When we had opportunities to score, Jones made a big pitch to get out of it. Your impact players have to make plays when the game is on the line and theirs did today.”
Goddard found himself back on the mound for the sixth inning and it looked like he would be able to throw up zero, until Samford strung together a two-out rally. Jordan Fucci started that rally with a single down the left field line. Sam Teague followed with an infield single to short where Kansas junior Matt McLaughlin threw it away at first and allowed both runners on base to score and push the Bulldogs lead to four, 5-1.
Samford relied on its experienced bullpen down the stretch who combined to shutout the Jayhawks in the final three frames facing the minimum number of hitters. Bulldogs’ reliever Josh Rich faced six batters and struck out three while Erin Baldwin pitched the ninth and recorded one strikeout – neither allowed a baserunner.
McLaughlin led Kansas with a 1-for-4 effort at the plate with the team’s lone RBI, while junior catcher Tanner Gragg scored that run after a single in the third inning. In addition, the Jayhawks’ were held to five or fewer hits for the seventh time this season, including twice in the series, as they finished with an even five base knocks.
Kansas continues its homestand Tuesday, March 28, when the Jayhawks host Minnesota for the first of a two-game midweek set. Fans can watch the action live on ESPN3 or tune into the live audio broadcast on the Jayhawk Radio Network via or on the official “Kansas Jayhawks” app.
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