Zeferjahn paces KU to series victory over Morehead State
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Sophomore righty Ryan Zeferjahn’s career-high eight scoreless innings propelled the Kansas baseball team to its sixth series victory of the season after a 12-0 win over Morehead State, Saturday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark.
Zeferjahn (5-1) faced 31 batters, struck out five and allowed just nine base runners – four hits, four walks and a hit-by-pitch. His eight-innings on the bump bested his previous best by two frames, as he averaged just 12.5 pitches per inning against the Eagles (16-13).
“This was my best start of my career,” Zeferjahn said. “My game plan today was to go out and get ahead of hitters. Getting that early lead from our offense was key to help me feel comfortable out there.”
That early lead came in the second inning after junior left fielder Devin Foyle opened the scoring with a solo home run to left center. Senior first baseman Luke Bakula followed with a RBI-single and Kansas (17-11) found itself up 2-0.
That confidence boost from his offense helped Zeferjahn cruise through eight innings in 100 pitches, but an extended KU bottom of the eighth, ended his shot at the complete-game shutout.
“Zeferjahn has never pitched into the eighth inning,” head coach Ritch Price said. “We wanted him to cross that barrier where he can go out and pitch the eighth inning so he has that confidence in himself to do it. If it would have been a quicker inning for us at the plate in the eighth, I might have let him go out and finish it.”
The bottom of the eighth took Morehead State 40 pitches and three different hurlers to get through, with Kansas plating its final two runs on the day.
That multi-run inning for the Jayhawks was one of five crooked numbers they recorded in their eight trips to the plate. The team pounded out 18 hits total, with 13 coming from Morehead State starter Dalton Stambaugh (4-3).
Six different KU players boasted multi-hit affairs with sophomore designated hitter Brett Vosik (3-for-4), freshman third baseman Skyler Messinger (3-for-4) and sophomore shortstop Benjamin Sems (3-for-4) leading the way with three hits each.
Sems and Messinger each drove in three RBIs, while senior Owen Taylor and Foyle knocked in a pair of runs apiece.
“I have been waiting for our offense to wake up this weekend,” Price said. “We did a nice job using the whole field. We stayed behind on the off-speed pitches and saw the ball elevated. I thought it was a great offensive performance.”
Kansas returns to the diamond, Tuesday, April 3, against Creighton, amidst an eight-game homestand.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Solo shot: Junior left fielder Devin Foyle hit his fourth home run of the season in the second inning to jump-start the Kansas offense. That bomb marked the eighth four-bagger for the Jayhawks in their last seven games and brings their season total to 22 – four more than they hit all of last season.
Shutout: The eight scoreless innings by sophomore Ryan Zeferjahn and the clean top of the ninth thrown by freshman lefty Daniel Hegarty gave Kansas its first shutout in a nine-inning game since March 11, 2016 (North Dakota).
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