Utah Blasts Past Kansas, 15-1

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SURPRISE, Ariz. –Redshirt-sophomore Jon Hander made his first start on the mound in over 18 months, as the Kansas baseball team dropped game one of its Arizona trip to Utah, 15-1, Friday night at Surprise Stadium.
It had been one year, nine months and 19 days, or 660 days, since Hander (0-1) last made a start for the Jayhawks (2-2), as he missed the entire 2015 season after having Tommy John surgery. Hander, amped up for his first start back, battled through four innings, giving up seven runs off nine hits in a 67-pitch performance.
Not quite the outing Kansas was looking for from Hander, but the important thing was he was back out on the mound.
“That is the first start Hander has made since his freshman year,” head coach Ritch Price said. “The positive thing for us was he was back on the mound. He needs to get that feel for pitching again. He has a really good arm and I really like him.”
Hander got off to a rocky start after giving up three Utah (2-3) runs in the first inning off of five singles. He followed by surrendering two runs in the second before giving up solo shots in the third and fourth innings, respectively.
However, the Jayhawks had their opportunities early on to make it a game, but hit into two double plays with runners in scoring position and flew out with the bases loaded. Kansas stranded nine baserunners through seven innings – all while trailing 7-1.
Credit Utes’ starter Jayson Rose (1-0) for keeping KU off the scoreboard. Rose tossed six innings, allowing just one unearned run in the third off of four hits. The effectiveness of his changeup struck out five batters and induced five ground ball outs.
“We didn’t do a good job being disciplined against the changeup,” Price said. “[Rose] was throwing 91-92 and had a really good changeup. He used it effectively against our left-handed hitters. A perfect example is (junior catcher) Michael Tinsley. I think he left six baserunners on base in his 0-for-4 performance tonight. In his bases loaded, he rolls over on a changeup and hits into a double play. If he gaps it, the score is 7-3 and we are right back in this ballgame.”
Junior centerfielder Joven Afenir (2-for-3) and freshman designated hitter Rudy Karre (2-for-3) combined for four of KU’s five singles on the day, while senior third baseman Tommy Mirabelli scored the lone run.
Utah tallied 17 hits including four home runs, one triple and one double. Right fielder Josh Rose paved the way for the Utes with a 2-for-4 performance with three RBIs and two runs scored. Designated hitter Kellen Marruffo wasn’t far off pace and finished 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored.
The Jayhawks have a quick turnaround as they head back to the field to face No. 5 Oregon State, Saturday, Feb. 27, at 2 p.m. (CT). Senior lefty Ben Krauth (0-1) will get the nod for Kansas as the team tries to find its groove at the plate.
“I told our club afterwards that if you get hit in the mouth like that, you need to flush it,” Price said. “You need to flush it because you are coming back out here tomorrow and playing the No. 5 team in the country. We need to play with some energy, enthusiasm and intensity. No one should be able to tell if we won or lost today by the way we approach the game tomorrow.”
Fans can tune into Saturday’s contest on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio and on the dial at KJHK 90.7 FM.
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