Kansas Drops Series at Oklahoma, 6-3
NORMAN, Okla. – Against arguably one of the top pitchers in the league, the Kansas baseball team dug in and battled the Sooners to the last out, falling short, 6-3, Friday night at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
The Jayhawks (11-19, 1-4 Big 12) faced towering righty Alec Hansen (4-3), the Big 12 leader in strikeouts, through six innings and hit him up for two runs off four base knocks. Freshman lefty Blake Weiman (0-5) pitched the best game of his short career as a Jayhawk, keeping the squad in the game and preserving the KU bullpen with a personal-best six and one-thirds on the bump.
The southpaw changed speeds and mixed his off-speed pitches well to keep the Sooner (21-12, 5-3 Big 12) attack off balance throughout the game, ultimately giving up five runs, including two in the seventh when the hurler was taken out of the game with runners at first and third with one out.
“That was a big step forward for Weiman tonight after getting knocked around at Texas Tech last weekend,” head coach Ritch Price said. “The fact that he gave up three in the first and then put up five zeroes was big. Hopefully his performance will encourage the rest of our talented freshmen class to take a step forward as well.”
Along with the four hits mashed off Hansen, KU tallied six on the day against an Oklahoma pitching staff that entered the contest with a team ERA of 2.76. Junior second baseman Colby Wright boasted perfection at the plate with a 3-for-3 effort and a run scored. Senior left fielder Connor McKay finished 1-for-5 with a double and a run scored while freshman third baseman Matt McLaughlin smoked a double down the line in left field.
“I was really pleased with our at bats early,” Price said. “We had Hansen around 80 pitches through the first five innings, and we stayed away from the fastball out of the zone.”
The patience at the plate allowed the Jayhawks to walk six times on the night with five surrendered by Hansen. However, the hurler hit up Kansas for nine strikeouts, while the Sooner bullpen fanned another three for a total of 12 on the day.
Oklahoma jumped out to an early three-run lead in the first inning. Weiman gave up the leadoff walk to OU designated hitter Kolbey Carpenter to start the frame. The pitcher settled in to sit the next two batters down before giving up three-straight hits, including two-run double by left fielder Alex Wise to put the Sooners up, 3-0.
Kansas answered back in the second with a two-spot off Hansen. Wright singled to right field with two outs to get the rally started. Senior designated hitter Dakota Smith drew the four-pitch walk while senior centerfielder Joe Moroney singled up the middle for the RBI. An errant throw on that play advanced runners to second and third and Smith was able to score on a passed ball to cut the OU lead to one, 3-2.
Both hurlers threw up zeroes the next four frames until Oklahoma added two runs in the seventh and another run in the eighth to take a 6-2 advantage into the ninth.
The Jayhawks rallied in the ninth to try and make some magic happen. McKay doubled down the left field line with two outs to get on base. McLaughlin followed suit and rocketed a curve ball into the left field corner for the RBI-double to bring up sophomore catcher Michael Tinsley. The lefty bat lined a 1-0 pitch up the middle right at OU relief pitcher Jacob Evans who made a quick snag with his glove for the catch and end the hopes of a KU comeback, 6-3.
The final game of the series will be played Saturday, April 4, with a 2 p.m., first pitch. Fans can watch the action live on FOX Sports Southwest+ and FOX College Sports Atlantic. Those wanting to listen to the game can tune into the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio and on KJHK 90.7 FM.
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