KU baseball takes two of three from Baylor, exceeds last year’s league win total

photo by: Mike Gunnoe/Special to the Journal-World

Kansas infielder Ben Hartl rounds third after hitting a home run against Nebraska, Tuesday, April 9, 2024, at Hoglund Ballpark in Lawrence.

The Kansas baseball team endured a resounding loss Friday and had a game suspended Saturday when it was on the brink of victory, but managed to pull off back-to-back wins Sunday to take a series from Baylor on the road in Waco, Texas.

“I was so proud of the guys for bouncing back the way they did it,” head coach Dan Fitzgerald said in a press release. “You look back to Friday night and even though we’re down, there’s a ton of fight at the end of that game. We continued to compete and that certainly carried over to yesterday. Then you sit on a four-run lead for 20 hours and I thought we finished that one with a lot of professionalism and then just carried it into the second game. Really proud of the guys and a great win. It’s another building moment for us.”

The Jayhawks improved to 21-15 on the season and 9-9 in Big 12 Conference play, equaling the Bears’ league record and in the process earning their highest total of league wins since 2019 with four Big 12 series left in the season.

On Friday night, Baylor jumped ahead 7-0 after two innings and 10-0 after four, taking advantage of an uncharacteristically rough outing from KU’s top starter Reese Dutton. The Jayhawks cut into the deficit a little thanks to plays like a two-RBI double by Collier Cranford and a solo home run by Jake English, but it wasn’t close to enough as they lost 14-5.

Saturday was a different story entirely, except for English’s continued ability to hit for power. The catcher hit a grand slam to left field, his 12th home run of the season, to put KU up 5-0 early and even as freshman pitcher Dominic Voegele allowed some damage, the Jayhawks had enough offense to retain an 8-4 lead before the game was cut short by lightning and scheduled to be resumed the following day.

Tegan Cain shut down the Bears late to preserve that win, and when KU and BU started their second game of the day, the action continued in much the same manner it had on Saturday. This time, first baseman Ben Hartl was responsible for the grand slam to break the game open, and KU pitchers J’Briell Easley, Ethan Lanthier and Cooper Moore combined to allow two earned runs on seven hits in eight innings before the Jayhawks took a 12-2 run-rule victory.

“I think we addressed it on Friday as you’re going to get punched in the mouth sometimes, but it’s how you respond to it,” Hartl said in the release. “We had an opportunity to win two more games and Fitz really explained that this is a series. It’s not just one game. We had an opportunity to take two and we did. It was awesome.”

KU now sits at a four-way tie for sixth in the Big 12 at 9-9, along with Baylor, Cincinnati and Kansas State. Next up it will take on Nebraska in a midweek game Tuesday on the road; previously, it beat the Cornhuskers 13-11 in the Buck O’Neil Classic at Hoglund Ballpark on April 9.

Softball swept

For the second time this season, KU softball got swept at Arrocha Ballpark by the nation’s top-ranked team; in March it was Oklahoma and from Friday to Sunday, it was Texas.

The Jayhawks got closest on Friday, when Lizzy Ludwig kept the Longhorns’ lineup relatively contained, Olivia Bruno hit a two-run home run to cut Texas’ lead in half to 4-2 and KU even brought the tying run to the plate in the seventh inning but couldn’t rally.

Saturday’s game was within reach early until a four-run fifth inning knocked out starter Kasey Hamilton and UT went on to win 11-3. Reese Atwood hit a pair of home runs for the Longhorns.

The series closer saw Texas’ pitching bounce back, with Citlaly Gutierrez throwing a complete-game shutout as the Longhorns got six runs on five hits in another powerful fifth inning and won 7-0.

“We’re getting the stops, we just have to figure out how to push some runs across when we have runners on base,” KU coach Jennifer McFalls said in a press release. “Got a big week ahead of us, Kansas City on Wednesday and then at Oklahoma State next weekend. Big week ahead of us, we have to rebound, put this behind us, learn from it and move forward.”

The series of setbacks dropped KU to 11-10 in conference play, one game ahead of UCF, and 27-17-1 on the season.

Seventh-place result a milestone for women’s golf

The KU women’s golf team ended the Big 12 championship on Saturday in the middle of the pack, seventh place in the 13-team league, but the result still represented significant progress under coach Lindsay Kuhle.

Competing at Houston Oaks Country Club in Hockley, Texas, the Jayhawks compiled as a team a score of 24-over 867. According to KU Stats and Info, that is the best 54-hole score KU’s program has ever attained at the Big 12 championship.

“I’m really proud of our finish today,” Kuhle said in a release. “We started on some tough holes and didn’t get off to a great start but finished really well. We made some birdies and dug deep, which we needed to do. (For) Lauren (Clark) to birdie three of her last four holes was huge.”

KU was led in a surprising turn by Amy DeKock, a sophomore from Palm Desert, California, who finished with a 3-over 216.

“She really hasn’t been in our lineup this year but stepped up at the end and played hard for KU,” Kuhle said. “Incredible performance by her all three days.”

The Jayhawks will learn on Wednesday whether they have been selected to participate in an NCAA Regional Championship.


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