Two Big Innings Stun Jayhawks, 15-5
SURPRISE, Ariz. – A seven-run first inning and five-run fifth inning were too much to overcome, as the Kansas baseball team dropped its weekend finale to Oregon State, 15-5, Sunday afternoon at Surprise Stadium.
Both squads combined for 24 hits, with Kansas (2-5) posting its fourth game with 10 or more hits. Four Jayhawks connected for multiple-hit efforts with sophomores Joven Afenir (4-for-4) and Michael Tinsley (2-for-3) leading the way.
Afenir’s perfection led to two runs and an RBI while Tinsley doubled off the wall in left to drive in a run while blasting his first-career home run to straight-away center.
“We are walking out of this weekend with 15 hits against Washington and 11 hits today against Oregon State,” head coach Ritch Price said. “We did a nice job all weekend swinging the bats. Those are power arms that were out there and our guys were on time and were physical. I am waling out of here feeling good about our club offensively.”
It takes more than offense to win a baseball game and the important storyline of the day came on the bump, as neither starter made it to the third inning. Kansas roughed up Oregon State’s (5-3) hurler, Jake Thompson, for a quick two runs in the top of the first, forcing the righty to throw back-to-back 30-pitch innings to end his day after the second.
The Jayhawks’ struggles on the bump continued, as sophomore right-hander Sean Rackoski (0-1) failed to make it through the first inning in his second collegiate start surrendering seven runs off five hits through two-thirds of the frame.
“We need to make some progress on the mound,” head coach Ritch Price said. “It’s like I just told our club, we knew we lost our top four guys to the draft and there were going to be some growing pains that took place – if we continue to work hard and take care of our responsibilities, we will be ready to go by the time conference play starts.”
Freshman southpaw Blake Weiman came on in relief in the first to record the final out, before throwing up a zero in the second inning to give Kansas a shot at chipping away at the five-run deficit. The Beavers figured Weiman out in the third, connecting for two runs off four hits to extend their lead to six runs, 9-3, after KU scrapped out a run of its own in the second.
Kansas chipped away in the fifth with a monster solo shot to straight-away center field by sophomore catcher Michael Tinsley for his first-career four bagger to pull within five, 9-4.
The Beavers answered right back, peppering KU reliever, junior transfer Sam Gilbert, for five runs in the fifth inning that included a two-out grand slam by Oregon State first baseman KJ Harrison to break the game open, 14-4. Gilbert allowed three hits and two walks in two innings of relief while striking out one batter.
Each team tacked on a run in the seventh, but the damage was already done and KU fell, 15-5.
Kansas used six pitchers in total with freshman Brandon Johnson and sophomores Jeremy Kravetz and Tyler Davis making their career debuts in the Crimson and Blue.
The Jayhawks are back in action Feb. 26-March 1 as the squad travels to Port Charlotte, Florida, for the Snowbird Classic. Kansas will face Chicago State, North Dakota State, Northeastern and finish the trip south with Boston College on Sunday. All four games will be available on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio.
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