Jayhawks Outlasted by Longhorns in 14-Inning Battle, 3-2
LAWRENCE, Kan. – It took extra baseball to determine the winner between the Kansas Jayhawks and Texas Longhorns, five extra to be exact, as the Longhorns outlasted the Jayhawks 3-2 in a 14-inning pitcher’s duel Friday night at Hoglund Ballpark.
The two teams were knotted at zero through the first three and a half innings, as Kansas junior lefty Ben Krauth and Texas right-hander Parker French each held steady until the Jayhawks went to bat in the bottom of the fourth. A one-out double from sophomore catcher Michael Tinsley was the first runner in scoring position for the squad. Two batters later, sophomore centerfielder Joven Afenir blasted a single to left field and Tinsley came around for the first run of the game.
The Longhorns put together a two-out rally in the fifth to quickly turn the score around. A single, followed by a walk and a hit batsman loaded the bases for Texas shortstop C.J. Hinojosa, who came through for his club and doubled in two runs to give Texas the 2-1 lead.
The pitcher’s duel continued, inning by inning, until Kansas took to the bats in the bottom of the eighth inning. Facing a new pitcher, senior shortstop Justin Protacio led off the inning with a single for his first hit of the game. Two batters later senior left fielder Connor McKay doubled and Protacio advanced to third. The Longhorns elected to intentionally walk freshman third baseman Matt McLaughlin to load the bases and bring in a lefty to face Tinsley for the lefty-lefty matchup. Tinsley avoided the double play by beating out the throw to first and Protacio scored to knot things up, 2-2.
Krauth finished his day after nine innings, a career-high, allowing just the two runs in the fifth. The southpaw also matched a career-high nine strikeouts in his best performance donning the Crimson and Blue. He is the only pitcher this season to pitch nine innings in a game and the first since Frank Duncan tossed a complete game against No. 19 Texas Tech, May 4, 2014.
Unable to score in the ninth inning, head coach Ritch Price made the call to the bullpen to bring in late-inning ace Stephen Villines to try and close out the game.
The side-arm slinger pitched four scoreless innings of relief before getting into trouble in his fifth frame. Villines walked the leadoff batter and surrendered a bunt single, before the Longhorns laid down a sacrifice bunt to put both of the runners in scoring position. The next Texas batter grounded a ball back to Villines who made the second out and forced the runners to stay put. It looked like the Jayhawks would get out of the inning unscathed, but Texas left fielder Ben Johnson hit a slow roller to short and Protacio was unable to gun him at first, allowing the go-ahead run to score, 3-2.
“Our guys pitched fantastic tonight,” Price said. “That being said, their guys pitched great too and we struggled to get the bats going tonight.”
Afenir walked to lead off the bottom of the 14th and a sacrifice bunt by junior outfielder Joe Moroney moved him into scoring position. Price called upon freshman Owen Taylor to pinch hit for the Jayhawks, but the effort was unsuccessful as he struck out looking. With two outs, Protacio went to the plate looking to add a second hit on the night, but grounded out to third and the Jayhawks’ shot at a rally was halted and the home team dropped the first game of the series, 3-2.
“We have to walk in here tomorrow and show some toughness and resiliency,” Price said. “This is the reason I took the job at Kansas, to play against the storied Texas program and a great coach like Augie Garrido. We have to come out and show them what we are made of. The season is a grind and we have to compete.”
The Jayhawks and Longhorns are slated to square off again at 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 18 at Hoglund Ballpark. The game was originally slated for a 6 p.m. start, but due to the impending weather forecasts, Kansas officials and both head coaches agreed to move the game up to avoid any possible postponements or cancellations.
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