Offense Explodes Early, Price Gets 1,000 in Win Over Baylor, 10-2

Head coach Ritch Price won his 1,000 game of his career between all levels of coaching Saturday with KU’s 10-2 win over Baylor.
Kansas 10, Baylor 2
Baylor Ballpark // Waco, Texas
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
KU 0 6 0 0 0 3 1 0 0 10 13 0
BU 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 7 3

Box Score (.pdf)
Season Stats (.pdf)

Batting Leaders
C. McKay 3 2 2 2 0 0
A. Hernandez 4 2 3 1 0 0
M. Suiter 4 0 1 3 1 0
H. Ross 4 0 2 0 0 0
G. Porter 4 1 2 0 0 0
M. Price 1 0 1 1 0 0
Kansas IP H R ER BB SO
R. Kahana (3-5) 7.0 7 2 1 2 4
D. Morovick 2.0 0 0 0 1 0
D. Newman (3-3) 5.2 10 9 6 1 5
D. Ashby 1.1 3 1 1 0 1
J. Kirkland 1.0 0 0 0 1 1
B. McCormack 1.0 0 0 0 0 2

WACO, Texas – The Kansas baseball team scored six runs and pounded out seven hits in the second inning en route to a convincing 10-2 win over the Baylor Bears Saturday afternoon at Baylor Ballpark.
The six-run second inning for Kansas (25-20, 8-9 Big 12) dug a hole too deep for BU (19-24, 5-11 Big 12) to climb out of, as the Bears managed just two runs off KU’s starter, junior right-hander Robert Kahana (3-5). The hurler struggled early, but protected the Jayhawks’ bullpen with a seven-inning outing, allowing two runs, one earned, and seven hits in the process.
“The first two or three innings, I couldn’t locate my fastball,” Kahana said. “But then after that I kind of got into a groove and figured out a way to get hitters out. Offensively, we swung the bats really well and we executed bunts. As a pitcher, you just have to go out there and keep throwing up zeroes and reward your offense just like they reward the pitching staff with run support.”
Run support was no problem for Kahana and junior reliever Drew Morovick as the Jayhawks put up a 10-spot in that column on the scoreboard. Those 10 runs are the most runs scored by a Kansas team in a nine-inning game against the Bears in the history of the two programs and were good enough to help head coach Ritch Price to his 1,000th-career win, spanning 35 years and four different levels as a skipper.
“First off, I thank Ka’iana Eldredge for the nice words and giving me the game ball afterwards,” Price said. “He’s grown up in a baseball family like I have and I know he understands the sacrifice your family makes and the opportunities the game has given you. In 35 years, every place I have been I have loved. I thank all the players who have played for me in the past, the great teams I have been able to coach and the outstanding young assistants that have been with me for so many different clubs and places in my career. I’m really honored.”
Kansas rallied for 13 hits on the day, but the difference maker in the game was the second inning, during which the Jayhawks put up a six-spot off seven hits, six of them in a row.
Junior right fielder Dakota Smith and sophomore first baseman Ryan Pidhaichuk led off the inning with back-to-back singles, before senior centerfielder Tucker Tharp laid down a bunt, reaching on an infield single to load the bases. It was junior designated hitter Connor McKay, fighting a 0-for-26 hitless streak, who strutted to the plate with no outs.  McKay snapped the skid in a big way by connecting on a fastball, driving it to right center to score the first two runs of the game, 2-0.
KU third base coach Ritchie Price then called for a bunt again, and this time it was junior third baseman Aaron Hernandez legging it out for KU’s second infield single of the inning.  That loaded the bases for the second time with no outs and brought Eldredge to the plate. Eldredge followed McKay’s lead and scorched a single through the left side to drive in two more runs, increasing the Kansas lead to 4-0.
Still in the second frame, junior shortstop Justin Protacio finally laid down a sacrifice bunt to move the runners to second and third with one out, breaking the consecutive hit streak at six. Sophomore second baseman Colby Wright blooped a single to left center for another KU run, before junior left fielder Michael Suiter drove in another run on a ground out, putting the Jayhawks on top, 6-0.
“I was really pleased with the offense in that second inning,” Price said. “We got the leadoff guy on, got a couple two-strike base hits and then were able to execute the bunts down the third base line. The guys behind them clutched up and got base hits. We did a really good job of getting guys on, getting them over and getting them in, and that was the difference in the game.”
Kansas added some insurance with a three-run sixth with help from a pair of Baylor errors, before tacking on another run in the seventh to round out the scoring on the day.
Seven different players tallied a hit in the second inning, while all but one starter ended the game with at least one base knock. Hernandez led all hitters with a 3-for-4 effort at the plate, while Smith and McKay each had two hits apiece. In addition, three Jayhawks drove in multiple runs, with Suiter leading the way with three RBIs.
After snapping BU’s 11 conference home series winning streak, Kansas goes for the series sweep Sunday, April 27 with senior right-hander Frank Duncan on the mound. First pitch is slated for 1:05 p.m. and can be seen on Fox College Sports.
“As of right now, tomorrow is the biggest game of the season,” Hernandez said. “We just have to come out like we did today with the same mentality. Tomorrow can lean our season either way, and hopefully we come out on top.”  The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.