West Virginia’s Grove and home runs too much for Kansas in loss
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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Three West Virginia home runs and a near perfect outing by its hurler Michael Grove stunned the Kansas baseball team Saturday afternoon at Monongalia County Ballpark, 8-0.
Grove (3-1) retired 23-straight Jayhawks before Kansas (13-17, 3-5 Big 12) third baseman David Kyriacou ended his perfect run with a two-out single up the middle in the eighth inning. Grove sat down the next batter he faced to finish his day with eight innings pitched, one hit and 12 strikeouts.
“In the 15 years I have been at Kansas, that is one of the most dominant pitching performances I have ever seen,” head coach Ritch Price said. “We only had two good at bats, to show you how dominant that was. That is as good a performance I have ever seen.”
The Mountaineers (19-10, 6-2 Big 12) used that performance by Grove, and three home runs to pick up its third-straight Big 12 Conference series win. KU sophomore Jackson Goddard (2-2) gave up two of those home runs in his four and 1/3 innings stint and finished the day allowing six runs off nine hits.
Junior reliever Jeider Rincon came on in relief and gave up two more runs when West Virginia left fielder Kyle Davis tagged his team’s third four-bagger of the game in the bottom of the fifth inning.
“Goddard pitched great and gave us three shutout innings,” Price said. “But then in the fourth, to their credit, they were physical with those two swings in the inning. This ballpark is a launching pad. If you get the ball in the air elevated, it has a really good chance of getting out.”
After the back-to-back West Virginia four-spots in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively, Kansas relievers were able to throw up three zeroes and keep the Mountaineers off the scoreboard. Rincon pitched a clean sixth inning while junior Tyler Davis struck out three batters in two scoreless frames.
However, the damage was done and after Grove no longer had the perfect game in tack, WVU reliever Riley Troutt came on in the ninth and struck out the side to preserve the 8-0 shutout. The Jayhawks tied a season high with 15 strikeouts on the day while Kyriacou accounted for the lone base knock.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
F86 double play: One of the biggest plays at the time for Kansas to keep it a scoreless game, Goddard induced a deep fly ball to center field with runners at first and second, and one out. West Virginia executed a double steal on the pitch and alertly, sophomore centerfielder Rudy Karre made the catch and doubled off the runner at second base helping Goddard out of the jam and keeping it a 0-0 tie.
Three bombs: West Virginia hit three home runs off the Kansas pitching staff to drive in six of its eight runs on the day. Those three round-trippers mark the most KU has given up since February 28 when Oral Roberts also took the Jayhawks deep three times.
Back-to-back four spots: The Mountaineers scored four runs in the fourth and fifth innings, respectively, to mark the most runs (8) scored against Kansas in back-to-back frames since May 1, 2016. On that date, Oklahoma plated four runs in the fourth inning and six runs in the fifth to round out the two-frame total of 10 runs scored.
The breakup: With two outs in the eighth inning Kyriacou broke up the perfect game with a line-drive single to center field. That is the second time this season Kansas has broken up an opponent’s perfect game in the eighth inning, with the last coming at then-No. 3 TCU (March 18).
Kansas and West Virginia wrap up its conference showdown on Sunday, April 9 with an 11:30 a.m. (CT) first pitch. Fans can watch the game live on Mountaineer TV (webstream) or tune into the audio broadcast on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio or on the official “Kansas Jayhawks” app.
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