Jayhawks outlast Mountaineers
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Backed by a strong showing from redshirt-freshman hurler Eli Davis, the Kansas baseball team earned the Sunday afternoon victory at No. 20 West Virginia, 6-5, at Monongalia County Ballpark.
Davis (4-3) tossed a career-high seven and 1/3 innings and paced Kansas (20-18, 5-10 Big 12) to their seventh series finale victory of the season. However, West Virginia (24-14, 8-7 Big 12) kept it interesting and roughed up Davis in the eighth to mount a comeback and pull within a run.
Davis allowed three-straight hits with one out in the eighth and exited the game with two on and the Jayhawks holding a 6-2 lead. Redshirt-sophomore reliever Jonah Ulane gave up a double and a single before getting out of the frame, KU clinging to a one-run lead.
Ulane shut the door in the ninth and earned his eighth save of the season.
Kansas jumped out to an early three-run lead off WVU starter Kade Strowd (4-4). Eight Jayhawks stepped to the plate in the first inning with sophomore designated hitter Nolan Metcalf, junior shortstop Benjamin Sems and sophomore third baseman Skyler Messinger each driving in a run.
Metcalf drove in another pair of runs in the fifth off a bases loaded single to right field. Sems followed suit in the seventh with a bases loaded walk and KU took a 6-1 lead to the eighth before the late West Virginia rally.
The win marked the fifth-straight one-run game Kansas has been involved in and the 11th on the season. The Jayhawks hold a record of 4-7 in those contests and 3-2 during that five-game span.
- Kansas holds a record of 7-2 in series finales of three games or more.
- Sophomore Nolan Metcalf boasted a career-high three hits and a personal-best three RBIs.
- Freshman Casey Burnham matched his career-high hit total with three singles on the day.
- Redshirt-freshman Eli Davis tossed a personal-best seven and 1/3 innings.
- The Jayhawks tallied their 10th double-digit hit effort of the season finishing the game with 12.
- KU has been involved in 11 one-run games including five straight. Kansas holds a record of 4-7 in those contests and 3-2 during the last five games.
Kansas head coach Ritch Price
On salvaging a win in the series…
“You have two devastating losses a day ago, but we found a way to compete and grind with Eli Davis giving us seven great innings, into the eighth. It starts with starting pitching, and some guys clutched up for us. Nolan Metcalf had his best day of the year for us today.”
On his team’s ability to win on Sunday…
“I think our players just understand how important it is to play every day on the weekend. We have that great saying in our program that ‘it’s all about Sunday.’ It’s true, it’s the most important day of the weekend.”
On freshman starting pitcher Eli Davis’ performance…
“He did a good job with his fastball command and his fastball down. He found his breaking ball in the middle innings, and was able to mix in his changeup and that’s when he was really effective. He gutted it out. I can’t say enough about Jonah Ulane. That’s all heart.”
Junior catcher Jaxx Groshans
On Sunday’s win…
“It’s big. Skip says it’s all about Sunday. Obviously, we lost two heartbreakers yesterday and it didn’t defeat anybody. We just wanted to come out today with the same attitude and try to compete and attack the ball.”
The Jayhawks return to Lawrence for a midweek bout against Creighton on Wednesday, April 24, before heading back out on the road for a nonconference series at Furman, April 26-28.