Kansas Falls in Game Two to No. 18 Texas Tech, 9-2
LUBBOCK, Texas – A four-run first inning was too much to overcome as the Kansas baseball team dropped game two of the weekend set to No. 18 Texas Tech, 9-2, Saturday afternoon at Rip Griffin Park.
The Jayhawks (10-16, 1-1 Big 12) pounded out 11 hits for three runs against the Red Raiders (17-10, 2-3 Big 12), but a less-than favorable start on the bump by freshman lefty Blake Weiman left Kansas in a big rut that it needed to climb out of.
Weiman (0-4) tossed five innings in his second start this week, first in conference play, giving up seven runs off 10 hits and a walk, including a four-spot in the first inning.
“We wanted him to pitch on the road in an environment like Tuesday night (at Missouri State) to get him ready for today,” head coach Ritch Price said. “He looked like a freshman today. He got two outs and then got behind in the count and they put up four runs with two down. I was pleased he went five innings, putting up a couple of zeroes. I think it was really important for his own personal growth.”
Offensively, senior first baseman Blair Beck (2-for-3), sophomore right fielder Joven Afenir (2-for-4) and freshman third baseman Matt McLaughlin (2-for-3) posted multi-hit efforts, while Beck and McLaughlin each touched home once.
The Red Raiders roughed up Weiman in the first for four runs off four hits to take the early lead, 4-0. The Hurler surrendered a leadoff walk before inducing the one-three sacrifice bunt for the first out of the frame. However, four-straight hits later, including a two-run double by TTU shortstop Tim Proudfoot ran up a four-spot to end the frame.
Texas Tech added another two runs in the second to push its lead to six, 6-0. Red Raider centerfielder Stephen Smith hit a one-out double to left center, before left fielder Tyler Neslony followed suit with a two-out double off the wall in left to drive in the first run of the inning. First baseman Eric Gutierrez singled up the middle to push the last run across in the home half and dig a deeper hole for the Jayhawks.
“When you get down 6-0, you can’t use your short game,” Price said. “You have to let your guys hit the baseball to try and dig yourself out of that hole.”
Kansas fought back and chipped away for a run in the top half of the fourth to cut the TTU lead to five, 6-1. Beck drew the lead-off walk before Afenir followed with a single to right field with no outs. It would be a TTU double play off a McLaughlin ground ball that surely would preserve the shutout, but sophomore Marcus Wheeler had something different in mind with two outs and Beck at third. The designated hitter smoked a 1-2 pitch to left field for his third RBI of the season and put up a one in the run column for the Jayhawks, who trailed by five.
That didn’t faze TTU as the offense immediately got that run back with a solo shot to left field by second baseman Bryant Burleson in the home half of the fourth to push the lead back to six, 7-1.
The Jayhawks battled for another run in the seventh before the Red Raiders added two more in the home half to push their lead to seven runs, 9-2.
Kansas rallied for another in the ninth, thanks to a TTU error, but the damage was done and KU fell in game two, 9-3.
The two teams are back in action, Sunday, March 29, for the rubber math of the conference series. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. Fans can tune into FOX College Sports Pacific for a live telecast in addition to a live audio broadcast on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio.
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