Two games, two different outcomes. And a chance at the holiest of hits - the grand slam - might've made the difference in both of them.
KU sophomore John Allman smacked a seventh-inning bases-loaded home run in the first game Saturday, breaking a tie and leading the Jayhawks to an 11-5 victory over Bradley.
Later, fellow sophomore Erik Morrison barely missed a salami of his own, flying out to the warning track with the bases juiced in the fifth inning of the nightcap. It could've been huge, but four runs became just one on the sacrifice fly, and KU eventually fell to Northern Colorado, 8-7.
After Saturday's double-dip split at Hoglund Ballpark, KU now stands at 35-22 with four regular season games to go. Any chance the Jayhawks have to polish their NCAA Tournament resume is crucial, making the loss to 16-31 Northern Colorado a little more painful.
"I think it's really disappointing, no doubt about it," KU coach Ritch Price said. "We got buried early and got in a huge deficit."
Even more disappointing for KU was how the deficit came about. Starter Nick Czyz surrendered six hits in 32â3 innings of work, and the last two singles were the most frustrating - bloop hits that fell in no-man's land behind the infield. Those two knocks drove in three runs.
Meanwhile, Morrison, Brock Simpson and other Jayhawks blistered the ball with runners in scoring position against UNC, only to see them get caught to minimize damage.
Such is an example of baseball's periodic injustices. But there's always responsibility out there for breaks becoming that bad, and Czyz gave up two singles and two walks before the bloops put UNC up 6-1.
"That's the hardest thing about this game," Price said. "But once they got the lead, their bullpen did a really nice job."
Saturday's nightcap soured the heroics of Allman in the first game. Tied at 5 in the bottom of the seventh, he roped a shot over the wall in left-center to put KU up 9-5. Two more runs sealed it for the Jayhawks, masking an otherwise sloppy day defensively and on the mound.
"It was good. We needed some runs at that point," said Allman, who had five RBIs against Bradley. "He hung a slider and I put a pretty good swing on it."
Preston Land was 3-for-4 with a double, triple and his ninth home run against the Braves.
Kansas plays one more game in the Jayhawk Classic, a 1 p.m. start against Northern Colorado. It could be the difference between a productive 3-1 weekend or a stuck-in-neutral 2-2 showing.
"We've got to come out to play again," Allman said, "and not worry about who's over there in the other dugout."