Tharp, Kansas Walk-Off in 10 Against BYU, 11-10
PEORIA, Ariz. – With runners on first and third and one out in the bottom of the 10th inning, senior centerfielder Tucker Tharp mashed a 1-1 pitch through the hole on the left side, scoring junior right fielder Connor McKay from third base and lifting the Jayhawks to an 11-10 win over BYU Saturday evening in the nightcap of a doubleheader.
KU (3-0) entered the 10th inning down a run to the Cougars (0-3) after a late rally in the top of the ninth put them on top 10-9. Sophomore second baseman Tommy Mirabelli, who didn’t see his first hit of the 2014 season until his 10th at bat, led the inning off with a drag-bunt single. Junior left fielder Michael Suiter flew out to center field, before McKay drew his third walk of the game.
Junior designated hitter and the game’s closing pitcher, Dakota Smith, took one square in the back to load the bases for junior third baseman Aaron Hernandez. The hero in game one, Hernandez flew out to deep left field to score Mirabelli from third and tie the game. Tharp followed and the rest was history.
“It’s a tense situation,” Tharp said. “You are down one going into the bottom of the 10th and Tommy laid down a great bunt to put us in a position to score one and tie it. Once we got a guy to third it was just try to dial it in and hit something hard and put it in play. You know, I had a couple of those last year and a lot of them didn’t fall, but this one found a hole and it was a lot of fun.”
The Jayhawks scored 10-of-11 runs with two outs and had 17 hits. Five players recorded multiple hits, including a 4-for-5 effort by junior first baseman Blair Beck, who also scored two runs. Tharp added three hits, two RBIs and two runs scored. Mirabelli had two hits, a RBI and two runs scored. Hernandez had two hits and 3 RBIs, while junior short stop Justin Protacio had two hits and a run scored.
“I told our guys when the game was over we scored 11 runs and 10 of them were with two outs,” head coach Ritch Price said. “There were some huge hits in the ballgame. Ka’iana Eldredge follows up Tharp’s double with a double down the line to get us a two spot and cut the lead in half. We go back out the next inning and they score two more and we are down four and then Hernandez gets a two-out base hit and cuts the lead in half again, and then obviously Suiter hit the three-run homer to give us the lead.”
Suiter only had one hit in six at bats, but he made it sting. His two-out, three-run bomb gave KU the lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, 7-6. BYU came back out in the seventh and scored a run to tie it up, before Mirabelli’s two-out double and a fielder’s choice by Suiter put two more on the board for Kansas.
The two squads exchanged leads six times, combining for 34 hits and 21 runs in 10 innings.
“It was almost like we were playing with old aluminum bats the second game,” Tharp said. “Both teams combined for 34 hits I think and as far as being a team win, 17 hits basically says it all. Top to bottom, everybody did a great job and I was just fortunate in that last at bat.”
Senior righty Frank Duncan started the game on the bump for the Jayhawks, lasting six and two-thirds innings. Duncan allowed 12 hits and seven runs, five earned runs, and struck out three. Smith came on in relief after sophomore Taylor Rappaport faced one batter. Smith (1-0) tossed three and a third innings, giving up five hits and three runs to earn the win in relief. BYU’s James Lengal (0-1) took the loss.
“We showed great toughness in that second game,” Price said. “To get buried early in the game and fight back to take the lead and then give it up and take it back and then give it up again in the ninth, I think we really grew. I think it was a great game for our young players to grow and mature and show some toughness.”
Kansas is back in action Monday to close out the four-game series against BYU. First pitch is slated for 12 p.m. (CST)
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