Jayhawks Drop Series Finale at West Virginia, 5-4
MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – After surrendering the lead late in the seventh inning, the Kansas baseball team couldn’t overcome the West Virginia bullpen and fell to the Mountaineers, 5-4, Sunday afternoon at Monongalia County Ballpark.
Kansas (19-25, 6-9 Big 12) played with the lead almost the entire weekend, until West Virginia (24-17, 6-9 Big 12) took its first lead since the fourth inning of Friday night’s contest in the seventh inning.
Senior second baseman Justin Protacio tied a season-high three hits and led all batters in the contest. Sophomore righty Sean Rackoski struck out a career-high seven batters in his first-career Big 12 start and left the game with the lead, but was unable to come away with a win after freshman lefty Blake Weiman (1-7) gave up two runs and got hung with the loss.
Although Kansas did not complete the sweep of WVU, they came away from the weekend with their first road conference series win of the season and in a better position to play their way into the conference championship.
“It was huge for us to come in here and get the series win,” head coach Ritch Price said. “We came into the weekend at the bottom of the conference standings, but we were able to show we can compete and win games. Our pitching has taken huge strides from the beginning of the season and I hope we can keep improving.”
It took three outs for the Jayhawk bats before they got things going. Sophomore catcher Michael Tinsley led off the second inning with a single and started a chain reaction, as six of the next seven batters would reach base, going station to station, to total four runs off five hits and two walks, before freshman shortstop Matt McLaughlin would strike out and Tinsley would end what he started with a groundout to short.
The Mountaineers struck back with a two run home run in the bottom of the second frame and three singles to pull within one, 4-3.
Rackoski shut the Mountaineers down after the second inning, working five innings and striking out a career-high seven batters surrendering just one walk.
Weiman came on in relief for Rackoski to start the sixth inning, and picked up right where his predecessor left off, with a 1-2-3 inning, but faltered in the seventh, giving up a two-out, two-run shot to left field to give the Mountaineers a 5-4 lead, their first lead since the fifth inning in the Friday night’s game.
The home run would prove to be the difference maker, as the Jayhawks were unable to mount a comeback in the last two innings to drop the game, 5-4.
The Jayhawks return to Lawrence and Hoglund Ballpark for Wednesday night action against Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The game is slated to start at 6 p.m. and can be heard on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio. Fans can also watch the game live on ESPN3.
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