Comeback Kids Top Northwestern in Extras, 14-10

Senior catcher Ka’iana Eldredge had the game-winning two-RBI hit in the top of the 11th.
Kansas 14, Northwestern 10
North Charlotte Regional Park // Port Charlotte, Fla.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11
KU 5 0 0 0 0 2 1 1 1 0 4
NU 0 0 0 2 0 0 3 5 0 1 4

Box Score (.pdf)

Season Stats (.pdf)

Post-game Podcast (audio)

Batting Leaders
K. Eldredge 6 3 3 2 0 0
T. Tharp 4 3 2 3 1 1
J. Afenir 3 0 2 2 0 0
W. Moses 5 2 3 1 0 0
M. Hopfner 6 2 3 1 0 0
J. Livingston 2 0 2 2 1 0
Top Pitchers
Kansas IP H R ER BB SO
W. Benjamin 6.1 8 5 5 1 3
J. Piche’ 3.2 7 4 4 2 5
B. Magallones 6.0 7 7 5 4 1
J. Livingston 2.2 5 4 3 1 3

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – Senior catcher Ka’iana Eldredge clutched up in the top of the 11th inning with a two-RBI single to right field, as the Kansas baseball team battled back to beat Northwestern in extra innings, 14-10, Friday afternoon in the Snowbird Classic at North Charlotte Regional Park.
The Jayhawks (5-0), let a four-run lead slip away in the bottom of the eighth inning, when Northwestern (0-4) put up a five spot to take control, 10-9. Kansas relied on the bat of senior centerfielder Tucker Tharp for most of its run production on the day, as he had a three-run bomb in the first inning and came up with the game-tying RBI single in the top of the ninth to send the game into extra innings.
Tharp finished the game with two hits (2-for-4), four RBIs, three runs scored, a walk and a sacrifice bunt in six plate appearances. He had his hands involved in seven of KU’s 14 runs on the day.
“When you are down one, you are going to keep grinding and keep competing and find a way to do something special,” head coach Ritch Price said. “The thing I was pleased with today, was Tucker Tharp. It seems that every time it is a different player clutching up with the game on the line.”
Junior left hander Wes Benjamin (1-0) started the game on the bump for the Jayhawks and was in line for the win with a 7-2 lead, after tossing six and a third innings. He allowed eight hits and was charged with five earned runs, while striking out three. Junior reliever Colin Toalson saw one inning of action, giving up just one hit and one earned run.
Senior closer Jordan Piche’ entered the game in the eighth inning with KU leading 9-6, but seven-consecutive Wildcats reached base, which included three-straight hits. NU scored five runs in the inning to take the lead and the win away from Benjamin.
“We put ourselves into some tough spots late in games and in the middle of games,” Eldredge said. “Obviously we got off to a great start in the first inning, but Northwestern did a really good job of battling back punch for punch and put us in a predicament late in the game.”
Piche’ stayed in and battled through the NU lineup through three and two thirds innings, until the game was decided in the 11th. He picked up his first win of the season, allowing seven hits, four earned runs and two walks, while striking out five.
“Those extra innings were tough,” Piche’ said. “It was for sure a battle. Coming in in the eighth was a tough thing to come out of, but it is just that mindset, you have to keep battling and keep going. I think playing off that and the fact I kept going out to throw in extra innings kept me going.”
The Jayhawks have battled from behind in three of their five wins this season, scoring a total of 23 runs with two outs, including six against Northwestern.
“You talk about the heart of this team, I think a lot of these guys know what they are doing up at the plate and know what we have to do when we are down one or down three,” Eldredge said. “One through nine, there hasn’t been a single game yet where it has been one person that did something spectacular, it has been two or three guys, so one through nine, a lot of guys are coming up clutch and getting big base hits.”
Kansas tallied 17 hits on the day, with six players collecting multiple hits. Justin Protacio and Eldredge led the team with three hits apiece, while Connor McKay, Aaron Hernandez, Tharp and Joven Afenir each had two.
“Everybody is playing a part in it all,” Piche’ said. “Our bats are awesome right now. Big time clutch hits when we need them is where it all starts.”
The Jayhawks are back in action Saturday, for game two of this four-day stretch at the Snowbird Classic. KU will face Wisconsin-Milwaukee with first pitch slated for 9:30 a.m. (CST).  The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.