Jayhawks Overwhelmed by Bears, 15-9

Final Box (.pdf) | Notes (.pdf)

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Sophomore catcher Michael Tinsley goes perfect at the plate, as the Kansas baseball team dropped its third-straight contest, 15-9, Tuesday night at Hammons Field, home of the Missouri State Bears.
Tinsley highlighted the Kansas (9-15) offense with a 3-for-3 performance at the dish, including two doubles, three RBIs, two walks and two runs scored. Senior left fielder Connor McKay (2-for-5) and junior centerfielder Joe Moroney (2-for-4) were the only other Jayhawks to post multi-hit performances, while senior first baseman Blair Beck and sophomore right fielder Joven Afenir combined to drive in the other five runs.
“He is our best hitter,” head coach Ritch Price said of Tinsley. “Like I said before the season, he is one of the best players to play at Kansas since I’ve been here. Not only that, the kid is catching a ton of pitches each game.”
The Jayhawk offense went toe-to-toe with Missouri State (14-7), matching them in nearly every inning, until a struggling Kansas bullpen gave up multiple big innings late to put the game out of reach. Freshman southpaw Blake Weiman started on the bump for just the second time in his career, while eight other KU pitchers saw action in the loss. Freshman Casey Douglas (0-1) was the hurler of record for the Jayhawks, as he gave up the lead and a four-spot in the fifth inning.
“We really struggled with our pitching tonight,” Price said. “We tried to break the game up, use guys one inning at a time. We told the guys to go hard for one inning and see if we could get a better performance out of them. Unfortunately it didn’t work very well.”
Kansas used nine different pitchers to get through the contest, with three doing their part to throw up zeroes. Sophomore righty Sean Rackoski gave up no runs on no hits in his frame, while freshman lefty Ryan Jackson did the same in his. Sophomore Tyler Davis threw up a zero in the eighth and was the only other KU pitcher to hold the Bears scoreless in an inning of work.
Right out of the gates, KU wasted no time breaking open the scoring with back-to-back three spots in the first two frames. Senior shortstop Justin Protacio and McKay led off with two-straight singles in the first. The duo moved up a base on a sacrifice bunt and touched home a two-run double by Beck. Afenir grounded out to drive in the last run of the inning and put KU on top, 3-0.
After MSU answered with three runs in the home half, the Jayhawks chalked up three more to take another three-run advantage, 6-3. With bases loaded and two outs, Tinsley stroked a three-run double to right field to snatch the momentum and lay the foundation for his perfect day.
“We swung the bats really well,” Price said. “To put up six runs in the first two innings – I told our guys after the game, we will get this figured out. Don’t quit on me and I won’t quit on you. We will keep grinding this thing out. We just have to stay together and keep competing and if we show some toughness, we will play through it.”
Kansas added another two runs in the fourth to add to its lead, 8-4, hoping to break a six-game winless streak to the Bears dating back 2010. However, the remainder of the game required quite a bit of toughness as Missouri State pounded out two runs in the fourth, four runs in the fifth and five runs in the sixth, digging a hole nearly impossible for the Jayhawks to climb out of, 15-8.
KU rallied for a run late in the seventh inning, but the hole was far too deep and the squad fell to MSU, 15-9, losing its seventh-straight game to the Bears and eighth of the last 11 matchups.
Kansas returns to the diamond March 27-29, as the squad opens up Big 12 Conference play at Texas Tech.  
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