Another Late Rally Mounts Comeback-Win Over Milwaukee, 9-8

Junior right fielder Connor McKay had a career-high five RBIs off a grand slam and sac fly.
Kansas 9, Milwaukee 8
North Charlotte Regional Park // Port Charlotte, Fla.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H
UWM 0 1 0 0 3 3 1 0 0 8 12
KU 1 1 0 0 4 0 0 3 X 9 7

Box Score (.pdf)

Season Stats (.pdf)

Post-game Podcast (audio)

Batting Leaders
C. McKay 3 1 1 5 0 1
B. Beck 4 0 1 2 0 0
K. Eldredge 3 1 1 1 1 0
S. Koenig 5 1 2 1 0 0
R. Solberg 5 1 2 1 0 1
N. Unes 4 1 1 1 0 1
Top Pitchers
Kansas IP H R ER BB SO
R. Kahana 5.1 10 7 6 2 4
S. Villines (1-0) 2.2 1 1 0 2 0
J. Hander (1) 1.0 1 0 0 0 0
T. Thicke 5.0 3 6 5 4 1
J. Jaquish 3.0 4 3 3 1 1

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – For the second-consecutive game and fourth time this season, the Kansas baseball team battled from behind late in the innings to pull out a win against Milwaukee, 9-8, in the Snowbird Classic at North Charlotte Regional Park.
Junior right fielder Connor McKay led the Jayhawks (6-0) with a career-high five RBIs coming from a sacrifice fly in the first inning and a big one-out grand slam in the fifth inning, while senior catcher Ka’iana Eldredge (RBI double) and junior first baseman Blair Beck (two-RBI double) had back-to-back two-out clutch hits in the eighth inning that proved to be the difference maker to mount the comeback over Milwaukee (1-5).
“It was just one of those situations where we needed a dagger to hopefully put us back on top and let Robert (Kahana) do some work,” McKay said. “I just got lucky and put a good swing on it.”
Junior designated hitter Dakota Smith started the rally in the eighth inning with an infield single in the hole at first base. Junior third baseman Aaron Hernandez flew out to centerfield, before senior centerfielder Tucker Tharp singled through the left side, giving Eldredge a chance with two outs.
On the second pitch of the at bat, Eldredge laced one down the left field line, which looked to be a two-RBI stand-up triple, however later was ruled a ground-rule double and forced Tharp back to third. The Jayhawks scored the run anyways as Beck smoked his only hit of the game to left field, scoring both Tharp and Eldredge to take the lead for the final time on the day. Beck finished the game just one-for-four and two RBIs.
“I was just looking for a good pitch to hit,” Beck said. “Ka’iana and Tucker (Tharp) got on for me in the beginning and really started it off for us. Ka’iana had a really big hit. I was just really looking to grind it out and help the team win.”
Junior right hander Robert Kahana started the game on the bump for Kansas and tossed five and a third innings, giving up 10 hits, seven runs, six earned runs, while striking out four. Freshman reliever Stephen Villines (1-0) took over in his collegiate debut, throwing two and two-thirds innings, allowing just one hit and one run for his first career win.
“It was cool that I was able to get my first appearance in this kind of situation,” Villines said. “My main focus was to get out of the inning and give our team a chance to comeback, and that is what they did.”
Since senior closer Jordan Piche’ threw 73 pitches yesterday and was unavailable to call upon to close out the game, freshman right-handed pitcher Jon Hander heard his number called to shut the door on the Panthers for his first career save. He tossed one inning, allowing just one hit to pick up the save.
“I got the opportunity to pitch in a big spot and was able to go out there and make a few good pitches,” Hander said. “The defense played real well behind me and made some catches to get out of the inning.”
The Jayhawks continue to battle back late in the innings, as the team is hitting .325 (25-for-77) with two outs with 26 RBIs, including a 3-for-10 effort and three RBIs today. A team that averaged just 5.1 runs per game in 2013, has now scored 56 runs in the first six games of the season, averaging 9.33 per game.
Milwaukee started their ace, left hander Tyler Thicke, who no-hit Kansas through four innings, before giving up three in the fifth, including the McKay grand slam. Justin Jaquish (0-1) came on in relief for the final three innings, allowing four hits and three earned runs, and was charged with the loss.
KU is back in action Sunday, Feb. 23, when it takes a six-game winning streak to the field against Mississippi Valley State. First pitch is set of 1:30 p.m. (CST).  The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.