Sophomores lead Kansas to Sunday win at Baylor
WACO, Texas – Backed by a career-day from catcher Jaxx Groshans and a strong performance from hurler Ryan Zeferjahn, the Kansas baseball team picked up its first conference series win of the season defeating the Bears, 8-5, Sunday afternoon at Baylor Ballpark.
Groshans exploded at the plate with a 4-for-5 effort including a double, two RBIs and a run scored. Zeferjahn (4-1) gave Kansas (15-9, 2-4 Big 12) six innings of two-run baseball where he struck out six BU (12-9, 3-3 Big 12) hitters in the process.
“It was a really important weekend,” head coach Ritch Price said. “We needed a great start from Zeferjahn today to win the series and then we needed to clutch up with the bats. Groshans had five great at bats and played like an impact player.”
Groshans’ only out at the plate came in the first inning when he hit a line drive so hard that it almost turned into a triple play. After that, he strung together a career-high, four-consecutive hits raising his batting average all the way to .409.
His performance at the plate, along with a two-run home run from junior left fielder Devin Foyle and a two-hit day from junior center fielder Rudy Karre, gave Zeferjahn all the confidence he needed to cruise through six innings.
After giving up a leadoff home run in the first inning, Zeferjahn threw three-straight scoreless innings before Baylor tagged him for another run in the fifth. He finished the day with six strikeouts before handing the ball to redshirt-sophomore Ryan Cyr for the seventh and eighth innings with a four-run lead, 6-2.
Cyr pitched two scoreless frames striking out four batters. Junior closer Zack Leban came on in the ninth and surrendered three Baylor runs before sealing up the 8-5 victory with a three-pitch backwards K to end the game.
“It ends up being a great series victory on the road against a team with a RPI in the top-20,” Price said. “We probably had the toughest opening two weekends in conference play having to be on the road for both of them. We grinded and competed and found a way to win a series against a good team.”
That series victory marks the first in Waco for the Jayhawks since sweeping the Bears in 2014. It also marks the fifth series win for Kansas this season with its only loss coming at Texas (March 16-18).
Kansas opens up an eight-game homestand when the Jayhawks host Missouri State on Tuesday, March 27 at Hoglund Ballpark.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Three-straight days: Sophomore catcher Jaxx Groshans caught three-consecutive days for the first time all season when he started all three games against Baylor in order for head coach Ritch Price to keep the hot bat of Brett Vosik in the lineup. Against the Bears, Groshans batted .583 (7-for-12) with a double, two RBIs and three runs scored. He reached base in eight of his 13 plate appearances for a team-high .615 on-base percentage.
Are you CYR-ious: Redshirt-sophomore reliever Ryan Cyr pitched three and 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball against Baylor, including two shutout innings in Sunday’s clincher. He has not allowed an earned run since March 11 against St. John’s spanning 10 innings of work. As a result, he has lowered his ERA all the way to 1.05.
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