⚾ Shojinaga’s Strong Night Not Enough as Kansas Drops Season Opener to UIC

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – In the 2024 season opener on Friday, Kansas Baseball fell 11-9 to Illinois-Chicago at Whataburger Field. Sophomore Kodey Shojinaga had four hits and five RBIs, including two home runs, with one of those being a grand slam. Kansas scored four runs in both the eighth and ninth innings to make it close down the stretch.

• UIC opened the game with a run in the top of the first inning. After the Flames hit a double and single with one out, AJ Henkle brought in a run on an RBI groundout to give Illlinois-Chicago a 1-0 lead.
• Henkle came up again with two runners on in the third inning with two outs. He drove a ball off the wall in right-center field for a 2-run triple to make the score 3-0.
• Illinois-Chicago added three more runs in the fourth inning on a 2-run triple by Zane Zielinkski and an RBI groundout from Vidal Colon. The Flames led 6-0 after four innings.
• Three more runs came in for UIC in the fifth inning on a bases-clearing triple off the bat of James Harris.
• After base hits in his first two at-bats, Shojinaga hit a solo home run in the fifth inning. The home run was the first of the season by a Jayhawk.
• UIC scored two more runs in the eighth inning on a 2-run single from Kendall Ewell.
• The Jayhawks put up four runs in the bottom of the eighth to chip away at the deficit. KU loaded the bases to start the inning and senior Collier Cranford scored the first run on a wild pitch. After reloading the bases, senior John Nett delivered a 2-run single to score Jake English and Michael Brooks. Senior Janson Reeder then had a 2-out RBI single, which brought the score to 11-5.
• With the bases loaded and two outs in the ninth, Shojinaga sent a shot to right field that deflected off the right fielder’s glove and over the wall for a grand slam.

Win: Dillon Schueler (1-0)
Final line: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 1 SO
Loss: Reese Dutton (0-1)
Final line: 3.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 3 SO

Kodey Shojinaga: The reigning Big 12 Co-Freshman of the Year went 4-for-6 with two home runs, a double, five RBIs and two runs scored in the season opener. He was the lone Jayhawk with multiple hits on Friday night.


Shojinaga’s ninth inning grand slam cut the deficit to 11-9. The grand slam was the first of his career.

“I think we did a great job at the end approach wise – we really did a good approach wise throughout the night when you look at 10 walks and only four punch outs. On the flip side, when you walk nine guys it’s hard to win baseball games. We have to get back to our process that’s pretty simple of taking care of the strike zone, which we did not do tonight. We did late in the game, and we’ll carry that into tomorrow.” – Head Coach Dan Fitzgerald

“Both home runs came with two strikes. The one late in the game I was just trying to put a good barrel on the ball and work the count. The one before that was also with two strikes and I tried to stick to the same approach of working through the middle of the field.” – Kodey Shojinaga

• Kansas is now 20-8 in season openers since joining the Big 12 Conference prior to the start of the 1997 season. The Jayhawks are 1-1 under Head Coach Dan Fitzgerald.
• Shojinaga recorded his first career multi-home run game and the grand slam was the first of his career.
• Shojinaga hit the first home run of the season for the Jayhawks in 2023 and now in 2024. The last Jayhawk to hit the first home run of the season in back-to-back years was James Cosentino in 2020 and 2021. The home runs for Shojinaga in consecutive years both came at Whataburger Field.
• Shojinaga’s four hits, two home runs and five RBIs were all the most in a Kansas season opener since at least 2003.
• Shojinaga is the first Jayhawk to have a multi-home run game since Michael Brooks vs. Air Force on April 19, 2023. His grand slam was the first since Janson Reeder’s grand slam in the Big 12 Tournament against Texas on May 24, 2023.
• Freshman Ty Wisdom had a pinch-hit double in his first career at-bat with two outs in the ninth inning.

Kansas faces Illinois-Chicago again on Saturday for game two of the three-game series. First pitch is set for 3 p.m. CT and the game will be streamed on FloBaseball along with live audio available on the Jayhawk Sports Network.