KU baseball falls short against Texas Tech, qualifies for Big 12 tourney
The Kansas baseball team was two runs away from winning its final series of the regular season this weekend.
Instead, the Jayhawks lost two-of-three to Texas Tech and now will have to regroup before facing top-ranked Texas in the conference tournament later this week.
KU lost 15-1 to Texas Tech on Sunday to close the regular season 24-30 and 8-16 in Big 12 play.
The key game, though, was Saturday, not Sunday. That’s when the Jayhawks had a chance to win the series agains the Red Raiders, but lost an 8-7 game in extra innings. KU had won Friday’s opening game 3-1, giving the Jayhawks a chance to upset the Red Raiders in Lubbock, Texas.
KU was down two runs in the eighth inning, but Cole Elvis homered for the Jayhawks to tie the game. It was a continuation of a big series for Elvis, a senior who closed the regular season out with a bang. Elvis in Friday’s game homered in the ninth inning to put the Jayhawks in front. With the dinger on Saturday, Elvis finished the regular season with a team-leading 14 home runs.
While Elvis was able to tie the game for the Jayhawks, KU never was able to grab a lead against the Red Raiders on Saturday. After scoreless ninth inning by both teams, KU watched Texas Tech deliver dramatic walk off, as Texas Tech slugger Gavin Kash belted a two-out home-run on a 3-2 count in the bottom of the 10th inning.
That ended what had been a day of promising rallies for KU. In addition to the eighth inning rally, KU posted a four-run comeback in the fourth inning. That inning featured home runs by Luke Leto — a 472-foot shot — and Collier Cranford to tie the game.
On Sunday, KU was out of the contest early, falling behind 6-0 in the first inning.
KU finished the regular season in eighth-place in the nine-team league. That eight-place finish ensured KU a spot in the season-ending Big 12 Conference Championship tournament in Arlington, Texas this week. KU finished two wins ahead of Baylor — which did not qualify for the tournament — and finished three wins behind Oklahoma in seventh place.
KU’s eight wins in conference play was a big improvement from a year ago. In the 2022 season, KU managed only four conference wins and finished three games behind Baylor. The improvement came in the first year of coach Dan Fitzgerald’s tenure at KU.
KU now will try to deliver an upset in the Big 12 Championships. KU will face Texas at 12:30 on Wednesday at Globe Life Field in Arlington. Texas enters the game with the No. 1 seed in the conference after going 15-9 in league play. The Longhorns are 38-18 overall.
Texas won two out of three games agains KU earlier this month, but the Jayhawks kept all three games close. The winner of the Texas-KU matchup will face the winner of No. 4 TCU and No. 5 Kansas State. The loser of the Texas-KU game will face the loser of the TCU and Kansas State match.
That means KU will have at least two chances to pick up a victory in the tournament. KU hasn’t won a game in the Big 12 tournament since 2019.