Kansas Falls Short to Hawkeyes, 6-4

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Iowa bullpen stalls the Jayhawk offense, as the Kansas baseball team dropped game two of the weekend series to Iowa, 6-4, Saturday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark.
The Jayhawks (9-13) scored four runs off seven hits and eight free passes, but the Hawkeyes’ (13-5) defense helped strand 10 KU baserunners at pivotal points to secure the victory.
Senior left fielder Connor McKay paced the Kansas offense with his second-straight multi-hit performance, including a single and a double. Junior centerfielder Joe Moroney was the only other KU player to tally more than one hit on the day, finishing the game with two. Freshman third baseman Matt McLaughlin registered two RBIs, one in the bottom of the fourth with a two-out single, and another in the fifth with a bases loaded hit-by-pitch.
Sophomore righty Sean Rackoski started on the bump for Kansas and lasted four innings, before turning the ball over to freshman lefty Blake Weiman (0-3) and the rest of the KU bullpen.
Iowa roughed up Rackoski in the first inning and threw up a three-spot to open the contest. The hurler gave up back-to-back walks to open the game, before battling back to get two quick outs. However, with runners at second and third, Hawkeye right fielder Joel Booker smoked one up the middle to score both runners. Iowa catcher Austin Guzzo followed suit, after a Booker steal, and drove one through the left side to put the Hawkeyes up, 3-0.
Rackoski found his rhythm and hung zeroes the next two frames, before Iowa tacked on another run in the fourth. After getting the first two batters out, the Hawkeyes rallied for three-straight singles, including a RBI poke by second baseman Jake Mangler, to increase their lead, 4-0.
Kansas chipped away for a run in the home half of the frame, thanks to the RBI-single by McLaughlin. The Jayhawks kept going and found another three runs in the fifth after patience at the plate helped knot it up, 4-4. KU showed great discipline at the dish and took advantage of some unsteady Hawkeye arms. After a walk, double and another walk loaded the bases, KU held steady at the plate to draw two more walks with bases loaded, before McLaughlin wore a pitch to score the third run of the frame.
Iowa wasted no time regaining the lead off Weiman in the sixth. The southpaw gave up back-to-back singles to start his second inning of relief. A sacrifice bunt and a RBI-groundout later, Iowa had the one-run advantage, 5-4.
Kansas had a prime opportunity to steal the lead back in the home half of the sixth with bases loaded and one out, however, sophomore catcher Michael Tinsley hit into an inning-ending double play to get the Hawkeyes out of the jam and secure the lead, 5-4.
Iowa tacked on another run in the top of the eighth and called to righty Nick Hibbing (1) to close out the game and save the victory, 6-4.
The two teams meet again Sunday, March 22, for the rubber match of the three game set. First pitch is set for 1 p.m., and can be seen live on ESPN3. Fans can also tune into the Jayhawk Radio Network for a live audio broadcast via KUAthletics.com/Radio.
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