Turski’s effort not enough, Jayhawks fall to Eagles in extras
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Senior lefty Taylor Turski left it all out on the field Friday night at Hoglund Ballpark, but his effort wasn’t enough as the Kansas baseball team fell in 11 innings to Morehead State, 5-3.
Kansas (16-11) needed a strong start from Turski to have a chance at winning the game, especially after the depletion of its bullpen yesterday in the 12-inning affair. Turski answered that call and turned in one of the more gutsy performances this year.
Turski tossed a career-high eight innings and struck out seven batters. His only mistake came in the third inning when he gave up a two-out three-run home run to Morehead State’s second baseman Braxton Morris – who is riding a 23-game hitting streak.
He refused to come out of the game after the seventh innings, and went back out in the eighth, and struck out the final two hitters he faced before his night was done after 129 pitches.
“When the game is going and its tied like that, your adrenaline is flowing,” Turski said. “I don’t get fired up too often, but I was jacked after striking out that last hitter.”
Head coach Ritch Price agrees, and couldn’t have been happier with Turski’s performance.
“As depleted as we were in the bullpen after playing 12 innings last night, we needed Turski to go seven or eight innings for us,” Price said. “That is by far the most pitches he has thrown, and it would have been nice to reward that performance with a ‘W.'”
That reward fell short in the top of the 11th inning when the Eagles (16-12) plated two unearned runs off Kansas reliever Jonah Ulane (0-1).
Ulane gave up a leadoff double before striking out the next hitter. A one-out walk followed and then with runners at first and second, a balk was called. That put both runners into scoring position. Then, on the third pitch of the next at bat, sophomore catcher Jaxx Groshans mishandled the pitch and it rolled to the backstop. Groshans tried to make the play at the plate, but his throw went wild, allowing the second runner to score and give Morehead State a two-run advantage.
The Jayhawks had their chances, but stranded 13 runners on base. They got the leadoff man aboard in six of the 11 frames, but just couldn’t find that clutch hit, batting .143 (2-for-14) with runners in scoring position.
“We had the right guys up in numerous innings, but couldn’t put a run across,” Price said. “When Morehead State went to the bullpen, they completely dominated our left-handed hitters. We hit a couple balls hard and had plenty of opportunities to score, we just couldn’t get that clutch hit.”
Senior first baseman Owen Taylor tied the game up in the sixth inning with a two-run single through the right side. The two teams played even until the top of the 11th when the Kansas miscues allowed the Eagles to take the two-run lead.
The rubber match between the Jayhawks and Eagles is set for Saturday, March 31, with a 1 p.m. first pitch. The game 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
Bottom of the ninth: Redshirt-sophomore Brendt Citta, the hero of Thursday’s walk-off win, had a prime opportunity in the bottom of the ninth to do it again. Sophomore designated hitter Brett Vosik singled to lead off the frame and then with one out, Citta strutted to the plate. He roped the first pitch he saw deep and far to straight-away center field, but it fell about one foot short of the wall and was caught for the second out of the frame.
Six-straight: Redshirt-freshman Jonah Ulane entered the game in one of the more pressure-filled situations a rookie could have. He handled it with poise retiring the first six batters he faced, including three strikeouts. That streak was broke in the top of the 11th after MSU shortstop Reid Leonard led off the frame with a double.
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