Error Costly, Jayhawks Drop Series at No. 3 TCU, 2-1
FORT WORTH, Texas – It took 10 innings to decide the fate of the Kansas baseball team Saturday afternoon at Lupton Stadium as the Jayhawks dropped their second-straight contest to No. 3 TCU, 2-1.
With all the hype and pressure that comes with an extra-inning affair, especially on the road, the baseball Gods didn’t do Kansas (22-30, 7-13 Big 12) any favors with a string of bad luck baseball that included a crucial throwing error by junior third baseman and defensive replacement Ryan Pidhaichuk that allowed the Horned Frogs’ (39-9, 15-5 Big 12) winning run to cross the plate.
After head coach Ritch Price went to his bench to try and start a rally in the top of the 10th inning sending two pinch hitters to the plate, Pidhaichuk’s number got called to enter the game in the home half at third base. With one out and runners at first and second, the ball finds the defensive replacement and Pidhaichuk made a great play to smother the baseball, however, attempting the double play, threw the ball into right field and the Horned Frogs walked off with a win.
“We made some switches to try and get a run in the top of the 10th inning,” Price said. “That led to Pidhaichuk having to play third base. He had a chance at the five-four-three double play and just made a bad throw. There is no sugar coating it, he made a bad play. He is one of the toughest guys in my dugout and he will tell you that he made a bad throw.”
Take that bad throw away and the Jayhawks had plenty of chances to drive in some runs, but poor execution on offense and plus-defensive play by TCU kept zeroes on the board. Kansas hit into three double plays and was 1-for-2 on its short-game performance. The Horned Frogs robbed two other chances at hits from KU that could have led to run production.
Freshman shortstop Matt McLaughlin smoked a ball down the right field line that TCU right fielder Nolan Brown snagged on the dive and senior left fielder Connor McKay railed a ball up the middle in the 10th with runners at first and third that found the glove of Horned Frog closer Riley Ferrell for the final out of the frame.
“McKay was down 0-1 and railed a ball back through the box and almost knocked the pitcher’s (Ferrell) glove off,” Price said. That’s a great at bat by McKay with a chance to give us the lead, but we had other opportunities too. The reason they are No. 3 in the country is because they have really good pitching and they make you beat them. We only had four hits today, but we hit a lot of balls right on the button, just right at the fielders.”
All four singles came from four different Jayhawks. Senior first baseman Blair Beck, McLaughlin, redshirt-sophomore designated hitter Marcus Wheeler and junior third baseman Tommy Mirabelli were the four who tallied the base knocks. Senior second baseman Justin Protacio drew two of KU’s five walks and drove in the lone run on a ground ball in the fifth.
Senior righty Drew Morovick gave Kansas another quality start on the bump throwing seven innings. He allowed one run, unearned, on five hits before turning it over to sophomore closer Stephen Villines (3-4) with the game knotted at one.
Villines pitched in and out of jams in the eighth and ninth innings, before the crucial throwing error in the 10th by Pidhaichuk ended his day after two and one third. He allowed three hits, striking out two batters in the process.
Game three of the series will be played Sunday, May 10, at 1 p.m. Fans can watch the national-televised game on FOX Sports 2 or listen to the game live on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio. With the threat of inclement weather, fans should be sure to follow @KUBaseball on Twitter for up-to-date start times for the remainder of the weekend.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.