KU Falls Short in Finale to Boston College, 6-4
PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. – Late inning runs off the Jayhawks’ bullpen were too much to handle as the Kansas baseball team dropped its final game of the Snowbird Classic to Boston College, 6-4, Sunday morning at North Charlotte Regional Park.
Kansas (4-7) jumped out to an early 4-0 lead, before Boston College (4-6) capitalized off the KU bullpen with six unanswered runs to close out the game.
“They can really run and are athletic,” head coach Ritch Price said about the Eagles. “That was a good college baseball game. The one thing we have to eliminate, however, are the physical and mental mistakes that are taking place. They will hurt you when you are playing good teams.”
Junior second baseman Colby Wright paced the Jayhawks’ offense with a perfect 2-for-2 performance at the plate while reaching base in his other two plate appearance with a walk and a hit-by-pitch. Junior designated hitter Steve Goldstein finished the day 1-for-4 with one RBI and a run scored to help KU at the plate.
KU sophomore righty Sean Rackoski got the nod on the bump and lasted four and two-thirds innings, giving up four runs off six hits before turning it over to the bullpen. The Jayhawks then ran out freshmen Blake Weiman (0-1), Ryan Ralston and Ryan Jackson, before bringing in junior Sam Gilbert.
“I thought Rackoski was a lot better today than he was last weekend against Oregon State,” Price said. “He gave us some very good competitive innings. It was an encouraging performance by Rackoski today.”
The bullpen struggled to keep pace with the speed of Boston College and gave up two runs over the final three and one-third innings. Give credit to BC starter John Gorman (1-1), who settled in after the fourth to shut out the Kansas bats, and to Mike King (2), who came on in the seventh for the two-inning save.
“There were three freshmen in a row that came out of the bullpen today,” Price said. “We gave up some runs late, but Boston College is a good offensive club. We came here to get better and we did some really good things and we need to build on them this week.”
Kansas broke open the scoring in the third inning after back-to-back base knocks set the table for the frame. Goldstein hit a rocket to left field to lead things off and freshman third baseman Matt McLaughlin followed suit with a single through the right side.
Senior shortstop Justin Protacio laid a perfect sacrifice bunt down the third base line to advance the runners into prime scoring position for sophomore centerfielder Joven Afenir, who drove in the game’s first run on a deep sacrifice fly to left field. Wright kept the momentum with a RBI-single to left field to put the Jayhawks on top, 2-0.
Wright has now reached base safely in all 11 games and is on a four-game hitting streak.
The top half of the fourth mirrored what the Jayhawks accomplished in the third. Senior left fielder Connor McKay kept it rolling with a single to right field to lead things off while senior first baseman Blair Beck followed with a walk. Senior right fielder Dakota Smith took notes from Protacio in the first inning and laid down a beautiful bunt to the third-base side to advance the runners to second and third with one out.
Goldstein hit into a fielder’s choice to score McKay and Protacio roped one up the middle with two outs to plate Beck and give Kansas the four-run lead, 4-0.
Sloppy KU play in the home half of the fourth allowed Boston College to get one of those runs back after two throwing errors and a double cut the lead to three, 4-1.
The Eagles kept chipping away in the fifth and managed to hang up a three-spot on the scoreboard to knot the game up, 4-4. BC took advantage of four infield singles and a wild pitch to score three runs and knock Rackoski out of the game after four and two-thirds innings of work.
Weiman took over on the bump and worked out of the fifth inning before tossing a scoreless sixth. However, the rookie hurler allowed back-to-back extra-base hits to lead off the seventh that proved detrimental to the outcome of the game as both runners scored to give Boston College the advantage, 6-4.
Kansas couldn’t muster any offensive power after scoring the four quick runs and fell to the Eagles, 6-4.
Kansas continues its string of warm-weather games when it travels to Arizona March 3-4, for a two-game set against Grand Canyon in mid-week action. First pitch Tuesday is slated for 8 p.m. (CT).
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