Kansas Strands 12, Falls to Washington State, 8-5

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SURPRISE, Ariz. – A four-spot in the bottom of the seventh inning doomed the Jayhawks, as the Kansas baseball team stranded 12 baserunners Saturday evening at Surprise Stadium in an 8-5 loss to Washington State.
The Jayhawks (2-4) pounded out 14 hits against the Cougars (4-3), but couldn’t muster the timely base knock, stranding 12 baserunners in the process. Untimely hitting mixed with inexperience on the mound, left Kansas in a tough spot down three runs after surrendering a four-spot in the seventh inning to WSU.
KU managed to load the bases in the ninth inning, but Washington State closer Ian Hamilton (3) managed to shut the door, striking out sophomore Joven Afenir in the pinch hit bid.
Eight different players recorded at least one hit on the night, with sophomore designated hitter Colby Wright (3-for4) and junior centerfielder Joe Moroney (3-for-3) leading the way with three hits and a walk each.
“I was pleased with the way we swung the bat,” head coach Ritch Price said. “When you get 14 hits and score only five runs – we made a couple bad base running plays.”
It was a different story on the bump with the Jayhawks running out three different arms against the Cougars. Junior transfer Ben Krauth (0-2) lasted six and two-thirds innings, giving up seven runs off eight hits in his second start while striking out seven batters. Freshman lefty Ryan Jackson came on in the seventh, but failed to register an out before Price called upon another freshman, Ryan Ralston, to close out the game.
Ralston tossed one and one-third innings, striking out two of the five batters he faced.
“We made some awful pitches,” Price said. “We gave up a 0-2 base hit and let two runs score in the second inning. We walk a guy and give up a 0-2 base hit to tie the game in the seventh with two outs. We are still making mental mistakes and the only way we are going to learn is if we go out and play quality opponents like Washington State.”
Kansas started on the right foot, scoring two quick runs in the first inning after three-straight one-out hits. Freshman third baseman Matt McLaughlin started it off with a single through the left side before Wright followed suit with a single to center. However, it was the two-RBI double by senior first baseman Blair Beck that put the Jayhawks up early, 2-0.
WSU answered with a run in the first and two runs in the second to take the lead, before adding another run in the fifth.
KU cut the Cougar lead to one, 4-3, in the sixth inning, after senior right fielder Dakota Smith scored on an error following a base knock by senior left fielder Connor McKay.
It was Smith and McKay again in the seventh that put the Jayhawks on top, 5-4. Smith drove in McLaughlin with a sac fly to deep right field, before McKay scorched a RBI double down the left field line to score Wright, who singled up the middle to get on.
That lead was erased quickly with the four-run seventh put together by WSU. Krauth got the first two batters out, but surrendered a two-out walk, followed by two-consecutive two-out hits to tie the game up, 5-5.
Jackson came on and surrendered a single, two walks and a run, before Price called upon Ralston to close it out.
The Jayhawks wrap-up play in the Big 12/Pac-12 Challenge Sunday, Feb. 22, against Oregon State at Surprise Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 12 p.m. (CT).
Fans can tune in to Sunday’s game live on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio.
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