Wright, Hander Deliver, KU Overpowers Shockers, 10-3

Sophomore Colby Wright boasted a perfect performance at the pate (4-for-4), driving in a run and scoring three times.
Kansas 10, Wichita State 3
Tyler Field at Eck Stadium // Wichita, Kan.
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
KU 4 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 3 10 14 1
WSU 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 3 6 3

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

Batting Leaders
C. Wright 4 3 4 1 1 0
D. Smith 5 2 3 3 1 0
T. Tharp 4 1 1 2 0 0
Wichita State
T. Baker 4 1 2 0 0 0
M. Green 4 2 1 0 0 0
D. Parker 4 0 1 1 0 0
Kansas IP H R ER BB SO
J. Hander (2-1) 5.0 2 1 0 2 1
D. Morovick 2.0 3 2 2 1 0
D. Smith 1.0 1 0 0 0 1
S. Villines 1.0 0 0 0 0 0
Wichita State
C. Tyler (0-1) 1.0 2 4 4 1 2
R. Ashford 3.0 4 1 1 2 0
D. Palmer 3.2 6 2 2 1 4
F. Vielock 0.1 1 0 0 0 1
T. Looney 1.0 1 3 1 1 0

WICHITA, Kan. – Riding a three-game winning streak into a blustery, cold Tuesday night at Eck Stadium, the Kansas baseball team leaned on the performances of sophomore second baseman Colby Wright and freshman righty Jon Hander to pace the squad to a victory over Wichita State, 10-3.
Wright walked and scored the first run of the game for the Jayhawks (27-20, 9-9 Big 12), igniting a four-run first inning, while Hander (2-1) tossed five quality innings giving up just one unearned Shocker (22-22, 6-6 MVC) run in the victory.
That run by Wright was just a drop in the bucket for the stellar resume the sophomore built throughout the game, as he preached perfection at the plate, tallying a career-high four hits (4-for-4) and reaching base in all six of his plate appearances. Wright blasted two doubles, scored three times, drove in a run and added a walk and a hit by pitch.
“Coach Price always preaches go about your business like a professional,” Wright said. “It was a little cold, but other than that, I had a pretty good night. I was lucky to get good pitches to hit, and just had good counts all night, so I was pretty happy about that.”
As Wright was pacing the offense, Hander led the defensive attack with a five-inning performance on the bump. In his fifth start, the right-hander kept the Shocker bats off-balance, giving up one unearned run off two hits and two walks while throwing 75 pitches. At one point, he even induced three-straight foul outs, two to end the first inning and one to begin the second.
“It’s been an adjustment having to go deeper into games and throw more pitches,” Hander said of being the midweek starter. “After the last few starts, I’m starting to get used to it. I let them put the ball in play and the defense made a lot of really good plays behind me. I had a lot of confidence in allowing them to hit the baseball and expect outs.”
Wright’s perfection at the plate and Hander’s gem were two of many spectacular individual performances by the Jayhawks. Junior designated hitter and pitcher Dakota Smith was excellent both at the dish and on the mound. The Leavenworth, Kan., native tallied three hits and a walk, drove in three runs, scored twice and tossed a shutout eighth inning.
“I saw him [Smith] improve his hitting mechanics and approach last weekend at Baylor,” Price said. “I was really impressed with him over the weekend and I was really impressed with him today.”
Along with Wright and Smith, junior third baseman Aaron Hernandez was the only other Jayhawk with a multiple hit effort on the night (3-for-5), as he finished the game with two singles and triple.
Kansas quickened the pace early with a four-spot in the first inning. Wright drew the one-out walk before junior left fielder Michael Suiter was quickly hit by a pitch. Smith strutted to the plate and smoked a double to left field to drive in the duo for the 2-0 lead.
Senior centerfielder Tucker Tharp followed with a two-out hit by pitch to bring up junior first baseman Blair Beck, who roped the second two-run double of the inning to dig the Shockers into the early 4-0 hole.
“We got some big clutch hits early in that first inning that set the table for us to build off of,” Price said. “When we got back at two o’clock in the morning after Sunday’s game, I was a little concerned travel-wise, but our guys really rose to the occasion, took the rivalry personal and played one of our best games of the year.”
Wichita State tallied a run in the second inning before Wright canceled that out in the fourth with an RBI double. With a runner at first and two outs, Wright clutched up and drilled a 3-2 pitch deep to right center to score junior shortstop Justin Protacio from first and regain the four-run advantage for KU, 5-1.
The Shockers threatened late with a two-run seventh inning to cut into KU’s lead, 5-3, but the Jayhawks put the game out of reach scoring five runs the last two frames for the win.
Wright and Smith singled in the eighth inning before freshman right fielder Joven Afenir drew a two-out walk to load the bases for Tharp. Against a weakened WSU bullpen, Tharp laced a 2-0 fastball to left field, driving in two runs to put the Jayhawks on top, 7-3.
A single, walk, hit by pitch, a Wichita State error and a pair of fielder’s choice outs led to a three-run ninth inning for the Jayhawks, putting the game out of reach and giving Kansas its fourth-straight win, 10-3.
“I told our guys, we are going to play the most road games of any teams in a BCS conference this season,” Price said. “What’s impressive is we’ve done a really good job in the Big 12. We went 7-5 on the road (in conference) and we’ve got a really good record on the road overall with the neutral games and the road games we have played. But we’re under .500 at home. We’ve got everything in front of us now, a few huge series at Hoglund Ballpark and we’re hoping our fans will come out and support us.”
The Jayhawks are back in action Friday, May 2, as they play host to Texas Tech in game one of a three-game weekend conference series. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m. and can be seen live on ESPN3.
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