⚾ Late Rally Lifts Jayhawks to 4-2 Victory Against Illinois
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Kansas kicked off its 132nd season of baseball on Friday night by defeating Illinois 4-2 at Whataburger Field. The Jayhawks scored three runs in the last two innings to secure the win.
Strong outings from Kansas’ Cole Larsen (6.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER) and Illinois’ Cole Kirschsieper (7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 8 SO) was the story of the night. Neither pitcher would receive a decision as the game ultimately came down to the bullpens in the late innings.
Redshirt-senior left-handed pitcher Daniel Hegarty came in for Larsen with the bases loaded and one out in the seventh inning. One run came around to score, but Hegarty was able to limit the damage. Hegarty went back out for another inning and pitched a scoreless eighth. He was credited with the win Friday night.
Trailing 2-1 in the eighth inning, Kansas sophomore infielder Seth Sweet-Chick started the inning off with a walk. He would eventually come around to score, as did redshirt-junior infielder Dylan Ditzenberger. Both crossed home courtesy of bases-loaded walks.
The Jayhawks picked up an insurance run in the ninth inning on an RBI double off the bat of redshirt-freshman first baseman Cooper McMurray. The RBI double was the first at-bat of his career and gave KU a 4-2 lead that they would not relinquish.
In the bottom of the ninth, redshirt-senior right-handed pitcher Jonah Ulane was able to shut it down and earn the save.
Kansas (1-0) will play again tomorrow at 2 p.m. CT against Illinois. Redshirt-sophomore right-handed pitcher Ryan Vanderhei will go for KU, while right-handed pitcher Jack Wenninger will be on the mound for the Fighting Illini. The game will be available on BTN+ and the Jayhawk Sports Network.
• Kansas improved to 19-7 in season openers since joining the Big 12 Conference and is 13-7 under Head Coach Ritch Price.
• Kansas drew six walks in the game. That is the highest total in a season opener since the 2012 season when they had six walks against Middle Tennessee.
• Jonah Ulane recorded his 23rd career save. Ulane currently ranks fourth in all-time saves at KU. He trails Stephen Villines (40), Don Czyz (31) and Paul Smyth (27).
• Cooper McMurray hit an RBI double in his first career collegiate at-bat.