Jayhawks Topped by Murray State in Extras, 5-4
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — Maddie Stein’s two-run blast in the top of the sixth inning tied the game and helped keep Kansas’ chances alive, but a wild pitch with the bases loaded in extra innings gave Murray State a walk-off win over the Jayhawks, 5-4, in Frost Stadium at Warner Park Sunday afternoon.
Less than 24 hours after grinding out a 3-2, walk-off win over the Racers in the Coach B Classic night cap Saturday, Kansas found itself in chase mode after spotting Murray State three runs in the first inning. Stein scored two of KU’s four runs to rally, none bigger than her big fly down the right field line to even the score at 4-4. Both teams had their chances with runners at third in extra innings thanks to the international tiebreak rules, but the Racers plated the winner after a pitch from Kelsey Kessler skipped past Harli Ridling and to the backstop.
Taylor Dodson and Chaley Brickey scored Kansas’ other runs, thanks to RBI from Chanin Naudin and Taylor McElhaney in the second inning. Naudin and KU second baseman Ashley Newman both tallied two hits in the game.
In Saturday’s meeting between the two schools, Kessler was untouchable, fanning two of three Murray State batters faced while picking up the win. The Racers seemed unfazed by their previous futility on Sunday, aggressively swinging – and making contact – against KU’s hottest arm.
Shelby Miller poked a ball through the right side to lead off the first inning and, after a sacrifice bunt moved her into scoring position, scored the first run against Kessler by any opponent in 19.1 innings off the bat of Cayla Levins. Alexa Becker followed with the first home run off Kessler in four appearances over the right field wall to give Murray State a 3-0 advantage. Kessler returned to normal form and fanned two of the next three batters to end the frame.
Like it did in Sunday’s first-game win over Miami (Ohio), Kansas attempted to answer immediately, and did. Stein walked to leadoff the second then reached third on a single by Brickey and a misplay of the ball in right field. Naudin followed with a single up the middle to get one back for Kansas, then McElhaney squeezed Brickey home with a push bunt to the right side. Unlike the rally in the first game when Kansas took the lead, game two’s charge ended there, with the Jayhawks down 3-2.
Neither team made much of an advance in the next three and a half innings, but Murray State added a fourth run in the fifth after a pair of KU errors and a two-out single.
Again, KU responded immediately, this time pulling even with Murray State. Harli Ridling walked to lead off the top of the sixth, then Stein roped a ball over the right field wall.
Newman nearly created a game-winning opportunity on her own with two outs in the top of the seventh, reaching on a bunt single, then stealing second and advancing to third on the catcher’s overthrow into center. That threat died with a sky high pop up by Ridling in foul territory down the left field line.
Ridling was placed at second to start the top half of the seventh and moved within 60 feet of the go-ahead run when Stein dropped down a sacrifice bunt. Brickey smoked a ball towards first but it was snagged by the first baseman for the second out. In the next at-bat, Hatfield also made good contact but it too was snagged by the shortstop.
In the bottom half, Levins was placed on second and as the Jayhawks had done, Murray State sacrificed the runner to third. With one out, Leslie Bridges hit a sharp grounder to short and Brickey momentarily protected the game by keeping Levins at third. Jessica Twaddle walked on four straight to load the bases. Maggie Glass was at the plate when Kessler’s pitch got away and plated Levins from third.
Kessler scattered six hits over 7.1 innings of work and struck out nine Murray State batters. On the other side, CheyAnne Gaskey picked up the win in relief for the Racers, allowing three hits over 3.0 innings.
Kansas continues its tournament slate with a trip to Tampa, Fla., for the Under Armour Classic hosted by the University of South Florida March 7-9. Kansas will open the tournament with Northwestern at 10:45 a.m. (CT) Friday, and is scheduled to play five total games against a field that includes USF, St. John’s, Utah and LIU Brooklyn.
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