Any momentum lingering from a heroic victory in the first game of Kansas University's baseball doubleheader Sunday didn't show its face in the nightcap.
The Jayhawks ended up splitting the double-dip with Missouri, winning the first game, 7-6, in dramatic fashion before getting pummeled, 12-1, in the series finale at Hoglund Ballpark.
There was no torn feelings after both games were done. The misery of the second game spoiled the joy of the first. Period.
"It completely ruins the whole day," coach Ritch Price said. "There's no doubt about that."
Too bad. The opener had a movie-script ending, though it took the whole game to unfold.
KU second baseman Robby Price, while breaking up a double play in the first inning, felt his left shoulder pop out of its socket during the contact. He stayed in the game, but it only got worse. In the eighth, while diving for a grounder, it popped out again, leaving him on the ground in pain for several minutes.
Again, Price stayed in the game. Then, with the score tied 6-all in the bottom of the ninth, Price stepped to the plate and blooped a single over MU shortstop Andrew Thigpen. Nick Faunce scored on the play, and Kansas grabbed a crucial walk-off victory.
"I was trying not to do too much, especially with my shoulder," Price said. "I was just trying to get a pitch elevated and hopefully put a good swing on it."
Bad shoulder and all, Price went 5-for-5 with two runs and the game-winning RBI.
"He showed some toughness," Ritch Price said. "To clutch up like that late in the game shows you how tough the kid is."
Still, the pain was real enough that Robby didn't play in the second game. His status going into Friday's series opener with Kansas State is uncertain, though Ritch Price said "as good as I know him, I expect him to play Friday night."
Kansas (30-24 overall, 9-15 Big 12 play) pounded out 14 hits in the first game, but only got five in the second off Missouri pitcher Kyle Gibson. He struck out eight and allowed just one run - a Ryne Price RBI single in the fourth - to improve to 8-1 on the season.
The game got so out of hand that the embarrassing mercy rule was called. Since it was a Sunday get-away day, the game ended after seven innings because the Tigers (34-17, 13-11) were up by more than 10 runs.
"We weren't even competitive," Ritch Price said. "We got an awful starting pitching performance and got buried early. We could never get in the game."
It wasn't all dreary, though. Thanks to the first-game victory, Kansas continues to control its own destiny with regards to the Big 12 tournament. The Jayhawks need to finish in the top eight of the 10-team league to qualify and currently sit in seventh place. They're a half game ahead of Oklahoma, a full game in front of Kansas State and two full games ahead of Texas Tech.
The mission, then, is clear: Win two of three against Kansas State this weekend, or risk having the season come to an abrupt end.
"We need to give ourselves the opportunity to get in there," Ryne Price said, "because we don't want to be outside looking in again."