With the wind blowing and Oklahoma State's power hitters gripping and ripping, Kansas University's baseball team probably was happy to have allowed just three home runs Saturday.
The Cowboys prevailed, 8-7, scoring three ninth-inning runs and holding off a late KU rally.
The Jayhawks (21-10 overall, 0-4 Big 12 Conference) managed just one homer, a three-run shot by junior Ryan Baty in the ninth inning. But three straight flyouts after Baty's blast ended the comeback, leaving KU winless early in Big 12 play.
"We just couldn't keep the ball in the ballpark," KU coach Ritch Price said. "That's Oklahoma State's style. The three home runs they got, that's how they beat you."
Despite the 15 combined runs, Saturday's matchup started as a pitcher's duel. Oklahoma State (16-8, 3-1) rode the arm of Scott Baker, who struck out nine in seven innings, and was nearly flawless except for a four-run breakdown in the third inning.
Kansas, meanwhile, had a strong outing by senior Kevin Wheeler, who allowed five earned runs in 82Â¼3 innings. Four of those five runs were off of home runs.
"I made maybe two or three bad pitches all day," Wheeler said, "and they hit every one of them hard."
Kansas scored four runs in the third inning off RBI singles by Baty, Wheeler and junior Matt Tribble, and a sacrifice fly by sophomore Travis Metcalf.
But for five innings until Baty's homer, the run production ceased for Kansas.
"Anything up in the zone was going to go today," Wheeler said. "Today was a good hitter's day."
|Matt Daugherty/Journal-World PhotoKansas shortstop Ritchie Price fields a short chopper. The Jayhawks lost to Oklahoma State, 8-7, Saturday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark.|
The top three spots in the order provided seven of KU's nine hits Saturday. Freshman second baseman Ritchie Price went 3-for-5 to pace the attack, while Baty was 2-for-5 with four RBIs and Hayes was 2-for-3.
"I was pleased that they got on base and set the table," Price said. "The middle of our lineup is as good as any in the Big 12. Obviously, we're not producing at the end of our lineup, and that's something we're going have to see some production from or we're going to be in trouble."
After soaring to a 20-6 start in non-conference action, Kansas has dropped four of its last five, its lone victory coming against NAIA school Baker University.
The Jayhawks play Oklahoma State at 1 p.m. today, searching for its first conference victory. It's a surprise to many after such a promising start.
"We're not going to let four games put us in the gutter," Baty said. "That's baseball. If we come out and do the same thing to them tomorrow, we come out on the winning side."
Oklahoma State 8, Kansas 7
Oklahoma State 010 013 003 -- 8 9 3
Kansas 004 000 003 -- 7 9 2
W--Scott Baker (6-3). L--Kevin Wheeler (4-1). S--Shane Hawk (1).
HR--Kansas: Ryan Baty (4); OSU: Jason Jaramillo (5), Mario Matulich (3), Scott Kirby (2).
KU highlights: Ryan Baty 2-for-5, HR, 4 RBIs; Ritchie Price 3-for-5, 2 R; Lance Hayes 2-for-3, 2 R.