⚾ Jayhawks Open 2021 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship Tuesday
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas Jayhawks (30-26, 8-16 Big 12) open the 2021 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship with a single-elimination, game one against West Virginia, Tuesday May 25 at 6 p.m. at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.
Kansas concluded the regular season with four games last week, beating Missouri Tuesday in Columbia before playing a three-game series against No. 5 Texas Tech. Skyler Messinger tallied five RBI in the 9-8 victory over the Tigers May 18, while Ryan Vanderhei earned his first victory in a Jayhawk uniform after pitching two scoreless innings of relief. Jonah Ulane pitched 1.1 innings and earned his 10 save of the season.
Against the Red Raiders, Kansas opened the series with a 7-4 victory before falling in the final two games. Cole Larsen earned the start, pitching five innings with two strikeouts and three earned runs. Nathan Barry relieved Larsen and allowed only one earned run in two innings pitched for his second win of the season. Ryan Cyr and Ulane each pitched a scoreless inning of relief, improving Kansas to 26-0 when holding a lead after seven innings.
Messinger and Dylan Ditzenberger each tallied two RBI in the victory with Ditzenberger, Tavian Josenberger and Blaine Ray each recording two hits. KU used a five-run seventh inning to overcome the TTU offense.
Larsen is slated to make the start against West Virginia. He has pitched in five innings in all 13 starts this year. Larsen is the team leader with 83 strikeouts in 91.1 innings pitched.
OPPONENT PREVIEW: WEST VIRGINIA
West Virginia (23-25, 8-16 Big 12) last played a three-game series at No. 2 Texas, beating the Longhorns 5-4 in the opening game of the series. WVU dropped the final two games 14-3 and 12-1, respectively.
West Virginia holds a team .251 average with Austin Davis leading the way at the plate (.317). Davis is the team leader in hits (51), average (.317) and runs (25). Matt McCormick has a team-high 14 doubles and is second on the team with seven home runs. WVU has tallied 399 strikeouts to 198 walks.
Carlson Reed is slated to make the start against the Jayhawks. He has a 5.64 ERA in 13 appearances with five starts. Reed holds a 4-4 record with 33 strikeouts to 17 walks.
2019 BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
In the 2019 Big 12 Championship, Kansas faced West Virginia to open the tournament, falling 12-8 on May 22, 2019. The Jayhawks responded with an 11-inning victory over Kansas State, 15-14, before falling to Texas Tech, 7-5.
Against WVU, Kansas scored first, tallying one run in the first inning before WVU tallied nine runs through the first three. KU scored six in the fourth and fifth innings before the Mountaineers tallied another run in the bottom of the sixth. Both teams scored in the seventh, with KU adding one more run before West Virginia’s two runs in the seventh.
Nolan Metcalf led the way for Kansas, going 3-for-5 with one RBI. Tom Lichty tallied a team-high two RBI.
2021 AT WEST VIRGINIA
Kansas opened Big 12 play at West Virginia, winning the middle contest, 9-2. WVU claimed the series opener (11-0) and the series finale (15-2).
In the victory, Cole Larsen pitched eight innings, while only one earned run to the 35 batters he faced. Tavian Josenberger, Nolan Metcalf, Skyler Messinger and Tom Lichty each tallied two RBI. Larsen improved to 4-1 on the season.