Kansas Comeback Falls Short at Stanford, 5-4

Junior righty Drew Morovick tossed 3.1 scoreless innings to put Kansas in a position to win.
Stanford 5, Kansas 4
Klein Field at Sunken Diamond // Stanford, Calif.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
KU 0 0 0 0 3 1 0 0 0 4 11 3
STAN 1 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 X 5 9 3

Box Score (.pdf)

Season Stats (.pdf)

Post-game Podcast (audio)

Batting Leaders
C. McKay 5 0 3 3 0 0
M. Suiter 4 1 2 0 1 0
K. Eldredge 4 0 2 0 0 0
B. Whiting 4 1 2 1 0 0
A. Dunlap 4 0 2 1 0 0
A. Slater 3 1 1 1 0 0
Top Pitchers
Kansas IP H R ER BB SO
R. Kahana (1-2) 3.0 5 5 3 2 0
D. Morovick 3.1 3 0 0 0 1
D. Smith 1.2 1 0 0 0 3
C. Viall 4.2 4 3 0 4 1
J. Hochstatter (2-1) 0.2 3 1 1 0 1
A. Vanegas 2.2 3 0 0 0 0
T. Thorne (2) 1.0 1 0 0 0 0

STANFORD, Calif. – Determined to erase a sizable 5-0 deficit, the Kansas baseball team battled back to come with in one, but was unable to complete the comeback as the Jayhawks fell to Stanford, 5-4, at Klein Field at Sunken Diamond Saturday afternoon.
The Jayhawks (12-2) relied on five scoreless innings delivered by the arms of junior right handers Drew Morovick and Dakota Smith to keep them in the game and give them a chance at doing something special – another come-from-behind win. The duo came on in relief after a couple of costly Kansas errors and a rough outing by junior right-handed starter Robert Kahana (1-2) allowed Stanford to pile on the runs early.
“I was pleased with the character we showed today,” head coach Ritch Price said. “When you are buried 5-0, one of the things you tell your players is that your reliever has to put three zeroes up. I was really proud of Morovick. He stopped the bleeding. He went out and put three zeroes up. When (Connor) McKay hit the three-run double we had a chance to get back in it. We had the right guys up and it was a great college baseball game. I was pleased with the way we battled and grinded.”
Kahana lasted just three innings, giving up five hits and all five Cardinal runs, three of them earned, in the loss. Morovick tossed three and one-third innings, giving up just three hits, while Smith pitched the last five outs, surrendering a hit while striking out three.
The Jayhawks struggled at the plate in the opening innings, stranding four runners with just one hit through the first four frames. However, the two-out lightning found Kansas in the fifth inning when junior shortstop Justin Protacio drew a four-pitch walk and sophomore second baseman Colby Wright laced one at Stanford third baseman Alex Blandino, who couldn’t handle it and committed an error, allowing Wright to reach safely. Junior left fielder Michael Suiter followed by smoking one to left field to load the bases for KU’s cleanup man, junior right fielder Connor McKay.
Down in the count, 1-2, McKay fought back and belted a three-run double to right field off a 3-2 fastball, helping Kansas pull within two runs of the Cardinal. McKay led the offensive attack with a 3-for-5 effort at the plate for three RBIs, increasing his Big 12-leading total to 24.
KU tacked on another run in the sixth, thanks to back-to-back hits by senior centerfielder Tucker Tharp and senior catcher Ka’iana Eldredge, before junior first baseman Blair Beck laid down a sacrifice bunt to move them both into scoring position. Protacio then converted on an RBI groundout to pull Kansas within one.
“You want all your young guys in the dugout to understand that if you are down 5-0, the only way your team gets back in it is somebody needs to do something special,” Price said. It starts by putting zeroes up, and for us to shut them out the rest of the way, it gave us an opportunity to win the game late.”
Down to their final at bat, the Jayhawks got two men aboard in the ninth inning off a McKay single and another Cardinal error. However, with one out, junior third baseman Aaron Hernandez hit a hard shot up the middle that led to the game-ending double play.
Stanford reliever John Hochstatter (2-1) tossed just two thirds of an inning for the win. Chris Viall started on the bump for the Cardinal (6-8), giving up four hits, three runs and four walks.
The two squads will play the rubber match Sunday, March 9, at 2:30 p.m. (CST). The start time was moved up 30 minutes to accommodate the travel schedule of the Jayhawks.
KUAthletics.com:  The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.