Kansas baseball finishes off series sweep against Kansas State
For the first time since 2008, Kansas swept the series against in-state rival Kansas State on Sunday evening at Hoglund Ballpark.
In the first game of the doubleheader, Kansas earned a 9-6 win over Kansas State. The Jayhawks then notched a 6-4 win over the Wildcats in the nightcap to finish off the series sweep.
The Jayhawks have now won nine consecutive Sunday afternoon games and are 11-2 on Sundays this season.
KU, which won seven of its last nine Big 12 games, earned the No. 5 seed in the Big 12 tournament and will open play against No. 4 seed West Virginia at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
“I challenged our guys,” KU coach Ritch Price said after Sunday’s sweep. “If you find a way to sweep an in-state rival and get to Oklahoma City, you could get a chance to play your way in (to the NCAA Tournament)… I like our chances.”
During Sunday’s first contest, sophomore Nolan Metcalf, junior Benjamin Sems, and sophomore Skyler Messinger gifted KU an early 4-0 lead during the first inning and never looked back.
Kansas starting pitcher Ryan Cyr (4-6) tossed six quality innings, giving up only two runs.
The Jayhawks (31-24, 12-12 Big 12) then came back from a deficit three times against the Wildcats (25-31, 8-16 Big 12) in the second game of the doubleheader.
After a pair of home runs gave Kansas State a 4-3 advantage, the Jayhawks battled back and took the series off of an RBI double from sophomore Tom Lichty. Junior catcher Jaxx Groshans launched his 12th home run of the year, leading all hitters with a 2-for-4 performance while recording three RBIs and a double.
Sunday also was Senior Day for KU and senior pitchers Ryan Ralston and Brandon Ponticelli each saw action on Sunday, with both hurlers posting scoreless outings. Senior infielder Blake Shinkle also made his 13th start this season.
“We pride ourselves in this being a player’s program and those are some of the best young men to walk on the planet,” Price said of his 2019 seniors. “It has been an honor and a privilege to coach those guys.”
Added Ralston: “This has been my family. Skip (Price) recruits nothing but good guys and every guy that is in that dugout is an unbelievable person. I have friendships and relationships that will last a lifetime.”