Jayhawks Trounce Cougars in Hit-Fest, 15-2
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – The Kansas baseball team blasted 15 hits in a rain-soaked win over Western Athletic Conference (WAC) foe Chicago State, 15-2, Thursday afternoon in the Snowbird Classic at North Charlotte Regional Park.
Kansas (3-5) saw 11 different Jayhawks register a hit in the game, with sophomore centerfielder Joven Afenir leading the way with a 3-for-3 effort at the dish with one RBI and two walks. His perfect day against the Cougars (1-6) extends his streak of reaching base safely to nine-straight plate appearances, which includes seven hits and two walks.
“I’m seeing the ball really well right now,” Afenir said. “(Assistant coach) Ritchie Price worked with me on a few things in batting practice a few games ago and it is really working for me. It has been a big confidence booster.”
In addition to Afenir, two other KU players recorded multiple hits on the day in sophomore catcher Michael Tinsley (2-for-2) and junior second baseman Tommy Mirabelli (2-for 4). Tinsley drove in two runs while Mirabelli posted one RBI and a run scored.
The parade of runs began early in the game, as the Jayhawks scored eight through the first three innings, including a five-run third off of five hits, with Afenir and senior outfielders Dakota Smith and Connor McKay each hitting triples.
“We always say hitting is contagious,” Afenir said. “When a couple of guys get hits, it really gets things going for us and we start to be more confident at the plate.”
With a plethora of runs behind him, junior righty Hayden Edwards (1-1) made the most of the subpar and wet conditions with a much-needed quality start on the bump for the Jayhawks. Edwards had a career-day in just his second start, recording bests in strikeouts (nine) and innings pitched (6.0), and extending his stretch of not allowing a walk to 15 appearances on the mound.
The bats stayed hot throughout the game for Kansas and the Jayhawks matched their third inning run production in the eighth, stretching the lead to 15-1. Senior outfielder Joe Luvisi doubled to left field to start the frame before scoring on a CSU wild pitch.
Junior first baseman Jacob Boylan and Mirabelli followed with back-to-back hit by pitches to get on for junior third baseman Ryan Pidhaichuk, who loaded the bases with a four-pitch walk. Senior shortstop Justin Protacio, who tied career-bests with three walks and three runs scored, took a different free pass, this one with a pitch off the elbow to score another run in the inning.
Sophomore outfielder MJ Farthing and freshman designated hitter Owen Taylor followed with back-to-back RBI-singles to add to the run total, before a sacrifice fly by junior outfielder Joe Moroney rounded out the five-spot in the inning and the scoring for the Jayhawks on the day.
The Cougars got one back in the bottom of the eighth inning and after much deliberation, both coaches and umpires agreed to call the game with the unsafe playing conditions brought on by the steady rain throughout the game.
With the win, the Jayhawks move to 12-0 all-time against Chicago State. They continue play in the Snowbird Classic Friday, Feb. 27 at 1:30 p.m. against North Dakota State. The game can be heard live on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio or on the official Kansas Jayhawks mobile app.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.