Five-Run Ninth Clinches Series Win Over No. 10 Texas, 6-1

Senior righty Frank Duncan tossed seven scoreless innings, giving up just four hits and a walk.
Kansas 6, #10 Texas 1
UFCU Disch-Falk Field // Austin, Texas
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
KU 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 5 6 6 0
UT 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 6 1

Box Score (.pdf)
Season Stats (.pdf)
Post-game Podcast (audio)

Batting Leaders
J. Protacio 4 0 2 0 1 0
R. Pidhaichuk 3 0 1 0 1 0
M. Suiter 4 0 1 1 0 0
B. Johnson 4 1 2 0 0 0
M. Payton 3 0 1 1 1 0
C. Hinojosa 3 0 1 0 0 0
Kansas IP H R ER BB SO
F. Duncan (ND) 7.0 4 0 0 1 3
J . Piche’ (3-0) 2.0 2 1 1 1 1
N. Thornhill (ND) 5.1 1 1 1 3 3
M. Cooper (2-1) 3.0 4 3 3 1 2
T. Culbreth 0.0 0 2 1 2 0
J. Curtiss 0.1 1 0 0 0 1
C. Hollingsworth 0.1 0 0 0 0 0

AUSTIN, Texas – Thanks to a five spot in the top of the ninth inning and a Sunday afternoon win over No. 10 Texas, 6-1, the Kansas baseball team accomplished a feat that hadn’t been done since 1996: a series win on the road at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
The Jayhawks (14-5, 2-1) relied on seven shutout-innings from senior right-hander Frank Duncan, who gave up just four hits and a walk while striking out three. However, senior closer Jordan Piche’ (3-0) gave up two Texas (15-6, 1-2) hits and a run in the bottom of the eighth to steal the win away from Duncan.
“I am really proud of the toughness we showed,” head coach Ritch Price said.” To have the 1-0 lead and give up the base hit with two outs off the wall and bounce back to win, makes it really special.”
The resiliency of KU has allowed the team to come from behind and win on a number of occasions this season and today was no different. Kansas rallied behind a one-out double down the right field line by sophomore first baseman Ryan Pidhaichuk to open the flood gates for a five-run inning.
“I just got in the box and was looking for a pitch I could drive,” Pidhaichuk said. “Luckily he threw it low and in on me and I was able to put a good swing on it.”
After the double, Price turned to freshman outfielder Joven Afenir to pinch run for Pidhaichuk. Afenir advanced to third on a wild pitch before senior catcher Ka’iana Eldredge took four-straight balls on an intentional walk, setting up a potential double play.
Price then called upon junior third baseman Aaron Hernandez to lay down a bunt with runners at the corners.  Hernandez squared and dropped a beautiful bunt down the first base line, which scored Afenir and gave the Jayhawks a 2-1 advantage.
Rattling a pitching staff that leads the Big 12 in ERA is no easy task, but that’s what the Jayhawks did after Afenir crossed home. Texas called to the bullpen to bring in sophomore Ty Culbreth, who walked junior shortstop Justin Protacio on four-straight pitches to load the bases for sophomore second baseman Tommy Mirabelli, who took an RBI walk on another four-straight pitches, increasing the Jayhawk lead to 3-1. Texas head coach Augie Garrido then turned to Saturday’s closer John Curtiss to try to stop the bleeding.
KU junior left fielder Michael Suiter had a different idea, as he scorched a line-drive RBI single to right field to tack on another Kansas run, making the score 4-1. Then the wheels fell for the Longhorns, as junior right fielder Connor McKay reached on a fielding error by third baseman Zane Gurwitz, driving in Hernandez from third . Curtiss buckled down to get junior designated hitter Dakota Smith to strike out looking, before drilling senior centerfielder Tucker Tharp in the back to score another Jayhawk run, making the lead 6-1 and capping the five-run frame.
The game held true to its billing as a starting pitcher’s duel, with Duncan tossing seven scoreless innings, while Texas right-handed starter Nathan Thornhill gave up just one run off one hit and three walks in five and one-third innings pitched. The Longhorns bullpen failed to live up to the standard of the UT starting rotation, giving up five runs off five hits and three walks, while recording just one strikeout.
It took five scoreless innings on both sides until the first crooked number graced the scoreboard in the top half of the sixth. Sophomore second baseman Colby Wright led off the frame with a walk and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Suiter. After a McKay strikeout, Smith drove one to right field for an RBI single, and a 1-0 advantage in favor of KU.
Texas answered back in the bottom half of the eighth inning, after a two-out rally sparked by a two-strike single by right fielder Ben Johnson kept the inning alive. Then the hot bat of centerfielder Mark Payton drove one off the wall in right field, scoring Johnson from first and tying the game, 1-1. Piche’ then got Shaw to fly out to left field to end the frame and give the Jayhawks the opportunity to win.
Kansas has won four of the last six games against the Longhorns, which includes two games at home a year ago. The series win by the Jayhawks extended UT’s conference series losing streak to 12-straight series.
KU is back on the diamond Tuesday, March 18, to start a two-game mid-week series against New Mexico in Albuquerque. First pitch Tuesday is slated for 7 p.m. (CST).  The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.