Jayhawks Top No. 9 Cowboys, Win Series, 4-2
LAWRENCE,Kan. – Behind a two-run double by senior first baseman Blair Beck and a solo shot by senior right fielder Dakota Smith, the Kansas baseball team rallied to a 4-2 win over the No. 9-ranked Cowboys Sunday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark.
The Jayhawks (15-21, 3-6 Big 12) clutched up when it counted with three RBIs off three extra base hits to hand freshman lefty Blake Weiman (1-5) his first career victory on the bump and snap a streak of 10-consecutive Big 12 Conference series wins for Oklahoma State.
“I have been waiting for this win since I stepped foot on campus,” Weiman said. “It was a huge win and confidence booster for our team.”
Kansas put its bats to work against a struggling OSU (24-12, 8-4 Big 12) pitching staff that was unable to shut down the Jayhawk offense. Eight Oklahoma State hurlers took the mound in attempts to quiet KU, but none were able to get the job done.
“Their pitching is phenomenal,” head coach Ritch Price said. “They are a real athletic team, they hit the ball well and they can pitch. We just out-pitched them today.”
Weiman manned the hill for the Jayhawks and paced the defense through the first five and one-third innings, forcing the Cowboys to hang up goose eggs in four of the five full innings pitched to earn his first career win. The hurler gave up five hits and only one run, off a home run by OSU catcher Bryan Case.
“I told him he wasn’t ready to be a Big 12 pitcher when I handed him the ball for his first career start,” head coach Ritch Price said. “I am really proud of his performance today.”
Seven different Jayhawks combined for hits on the day with Beck leading the pack with a 1-for-3 effort, including two RBIs. Junior second baseman Colby Wright, senior left fielder Connor McKay, Smith and senior shortstop Justin Protacio each added a run scored.
Case stunned Kansas early in the second with a solo shot to left field, one of two on the day for him, to give OSU the lead, 1-0.
The Jayhawks answered in the fourth after a sacrifice bunt by freshman third baseman Matt McLaughin advance the runners to second and third with one out. Sophomore catcher Michael Tinsley (1-for-3) got a free pass to load the bases for Beck who put it in to right center, scoring two and giving Kansas its first lead, 2-1.
Weiman hung up three zeroes before Price made a pitching change came in the sixth to bring insophomore righty Sean Rackoski to get two big outs and end the Oklahoma State at bat.
Then in the home half of the sixth with one out on the board, Smith smoked his fourth homer in his last eight games over the trees in left field to add to the Jayhawks lead, 3-1.
“We are trying to get better every week,” Price said. “These guys have done that and will continue to do so.”
Rackoski found himself in a jam in the top of the seventh with two Oklahoma State players in scoring position and only one out on the board, but was able to get out of it with help from his defense, striking out OSU right fielder Corey Hassel to end the frame.
Protacio started the seventh for KU with a double down the left field line, advancing to third on a passed ball. Wright followed with another hit by pitch, advancing to first. McKay grounded to third, but advanced the runner from first to second to get both Protacio and Wright in scoring position as the Cowboys opted for a pitching change.
Left-handed hurler Kyle Bagnell took the mound for the Cowboys with two outs on the board, but a disciplined Tinsley found a hole up the middle to get on base and score Protacio to stretch the lead to three, 4-1.
Case cut the lead in half for Oklahoma State in the eight after he smoked the long ball over the left field wall, 4-2. Price called to the pen and brought in closer Stephen Villines for his second save of the weekend and his ninth of the season.
“For Villines to bounce back after a tough weekend last week and get two saves against a team like Oklahoma State is huge,” Price said. “It was a huge step forward for our entire pitching staff this weekend.”
The Kansas Jayhawks are back in action Wednesday, April 15, at Hoglund Ballpark as they host Missouri State in midweek action. The game is slated for 6 p.m. and will be available on ESPN3 and Jayhawk Radio Network.
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