⚾️ Jayhawks Secure 7th Straight Victory, Road Series Win Over No. 19 West Virginia
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Kansas pushed its winning streak to seven straight games on Saturday and secured its first road series win over a ranked opponent since 2017 with a 10-7 comeback victory over No. 19 West Virginia at Monongalia County Ballpark. Coach Dan Fitzgerald’s squad has now won seven straight to climb back over .500 and sit at 15-14 and 5-3 in the Big 12 Conference. The 5-3 start to Big 12 play is Kansas’ best ever through the first eight games since the inception of the Big 12 Conference for the 1997 season.
The Jayhawks erased an early 3-0 deficit and posted a five-run fifth inning to top the Mountaineers for the second straight game after a 5-3 win in the opener Friday night. The series win is the first over a ranked opponent for the Jayhawks since sweeping No. 20 St. John’s in 2018 and the first on the road since taking two of three against No. 19 Oklahoma in Norman in 2017.
West Virginia (22-9, 2-3 Big 12) took an early lead by capitalizing on an opportunity in the first inning. After a single and double set up runners on second and third, Caleb McNeely hit a sacrifice fly to take a 1-0 lead. WVU added two more runs in the second inning on a two-run homer by Logan Sauve to extend the lead to 3-0.
In the fourth inning, the Jayhawks were able to get on the board and cut it to two when junior Janson Reeder hit an opposite field home run to left. The solo home run was the seventh of the season for Reeder.
The Jayhawks bats continued to stay hot in the fifth with a five-spot on the scoreboard. Redshirt sophomore Mike Koszewski was hit by a pitch to begin the inning. Fellow redshirt sophomore Jackson Cobb came up next and tripled into the right-center gap to score Koszewski. After another hit by pitch, freshman Jackson Kline hit an RBI fielder’s choice to score Cobb and tie the game at 3-3.
Senior Cole Elvis stepped to the plate a couple batters later and sent a three-run home run over the wall in right field. The blast marked the second straight day he homered to right field in a clutch spot after hitting a homer in the eighth on Friday in a one-run game. The home run capped off a five-run fifth inning to give the Jayhawks their first lead of the day at 6-3. They never trailed again.
West Virginia scored two runs in the sixth inning on a hit by pitch and a sacrifice fly. That trimmed the Kansas lead to 6-5.
Each team picked up a run in the seventh inning. Kansas got a two-out RBI double from Reeder that scored Elvis from first after he hustled around the bases and slid in just ahead of the tag. The Mountaineers got the run back in the bottom of the inning on an RBI groundout. The score was 7-6 Kansas after seven innings.
The eighth inning opened with a bang as Jake English led off the frame with a missile to left field. The home run was the seventh of the season for English, which is tied with Reeder for the team lead. Two more runs would then score in the inning on an RBI groundout by Kline and a fielding error pushing the score to 10-6 in advantage of Kansas. The Mountaineers scored one in the bottom of the eighth to make the score 10-7, but that was as close as they would get.
Junior left-hander Stone Hewlett locked down the game from there. He pitched two strong innings to earn a save for the second straight game. Hewlett struck out three, walked one and didn’t allow a hit over two shutout innings to pick up his third save of the season and secure the series win for the streaking Jayhawks.
PITCHERS OF RECORD
Win: Sam Ireland (4-3)
Final line: 5.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 5 SO
Loss: Blaine Traxel (5-3)
Final line: 5.0 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 0 BB, 4 SO
Save: Stone Hewlett (3)
Final line: 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 SO
“I could not be prouder of the guys. They have stayed really true to the process and competed at a high level. You have to keep hitting the rock and at some point it breaks. Right now, they’re doing a great job of that and have a great two-strike approach.” – Coach Dan Fitzgerald
“What it really comes down to it, we stick to our process and approach really well. It makes it really easy when guys have great at-bats and guys find barrels.” – Senior Cole Elvis
• Kansas extended its winning streak to seven games. The Jayhawks have also won five straight conference games. The seven consecutive wins is the most since March 13-23, 2021 (7). The five straight wins in conference play are the most since finishing the 2014 conference season with nine straight wins.
• Kansas improved to 5-3 in conference play this season. The 5-3 start to Big 12 play is Kansas’ best ever through the first eight games since the inception of the Big 12 Conference for the 1997 season. The 5 wins are also more than the 2022 conference season total (4).
• Kansas has back-to-back wins against a ranked opponent for the first time since April 21-22, 2017 at #19 Oklahoma.
• Kansas has won back-to-back Big 12 series for the first time since the 2017 season (vs. Oklahoma State/at #19 Oklahoma).
• Elvis has homered in back-to-back games for the second time this season. He has four home runs in his last five games. The home run was the sixth of the season for Elvis. Elvis has three multi-hit games in his last five conference games. He is also riding a six-game hitting streak.
• English has also homered in consecutive games, marking the second time this season he has done so. He has seven home runs this season, which is tied with Reeder for the most on the team.
• Reeder hit his team-high-tying seventh home run of the season.
• Hewlett has a save in back-to-back games for the first time in his career.
• Jans snapped his career-best 24-game on-base streak.
Kansas will go for the series sweep of West Virginia on Sunday at 2 p.m CT from Monongalia County Ballpark. The game will be televised live nationally on ESPNU with Sam Ravech and Mike Rooney on the call.