While normally I post game recaps under the series open thread last night's huge win for the Jayhawks deserves some front page action. TAMU was the highest ranked team in the Big-12 and came into the game 19-2. KU took it to the Aggies highly praised pitching staff - withstood a huge comeback inning - and won the game in 11 innings. A win like this might jumpstart the KU baseball season. See below for more on the game. Big win on the road against an elite opponent in a packed stadium.
A KU win vs. Kentucky on the hardwood, coupled with a series win on the diamond in College Station (game #3 @ 1PM), will make this a great weekend for Jayhawk fans.
In their tenth try to get a win vs. an upper tier opponent the Jayhawks finally broke through yesterday, and victory number one did not come easy. Ashwood and Kyle Thebeau both started the game pitching effectively and after three innings the score was tied 1-1. KU broke the stalemate by batted through the line-up in the top of the forth and scoring six runs, five of them after two outs were recorded. The big blow was Brock Simpson's three run home run, his first round-tripper of the year. It is innings like this that have eluded the Jayhawks in the big games so far this year and caused so many losses in games they competed in through all nine innings. I know the offense has the ability to string together a few innings like this most weekends but for whatever reason it wasn't happening in the marquee games until last night.
By the middle of the fifth inning KU held a 10-2 lead and all looked good, but then the wheels came off the wagon as far as Ashwood was concerned. The first three batters of the inning reached and the call was made to bring in Marcin. Marcin's year has been an adventure in schizophrenia, some days he looks like he is delivering the most filthy material on the staff and is untouchable, other days he is beaten like an old rug. Yesterday the later description sadly applied. Not helped by an error by second baseman Ryne Price (who now has 10 on the year) Marcin only retired two of the seven batters he faced. Matt Lane made a rare Big-12 appearance to try to put out the fire. Walk - double - finally the third out. When it was all said and done Texas A&M had tied the score at 10.
Give the Jayhawks credit, they did not panic and went right back at one of the best pitching staffs in the NCAA, scoring two more runs in the seventh and one in ninth. Unfortunately the Aggies matched KU perfectly and the game went into extra innings tied at 11. Coach Price stuck with his closer Paul Smyth for the final 4.2 innings of the game and Smyth pitched well enough. He allowed both runners he inherited to score in the seventh, and one run charged to him in the ninth, but shut out A&M in the 10th and 11th when he was well stretched out. EMo's one out double in the top of the 11th broke the tie, Dylan Parzyk's sac fly added an insurance run, and Justin Ellrich's two run double provided the cushion. Smyth set down the Aggies 1 - 2 - 3 in the bottom of the frame, final score 17-13.
Lot of offensive heroes last night. Brock Simpson leads the list with four RBI's, Kyle Murphy and John Allman both collected three RBI's themselves. Allman is having an amazing year at the plate and did not show any signs of slowing down last night. He reached base five times in seven plate appearances, collecting two singles, a triple and was hit by pitches twice. Maybe the opponents thinking is becoming if they can't get him out when he swings just jam him up inside. His season line is now .413 / .520 / .538. When was the last time a Jayhawk was 23 games into the season and still hitting over .400? Robby Price also collected three hits to edge his season average to .299. If Robby gets his average up just one more notch the Jayhawks will have six regular starters hitting over .300.
Last night's win makes today's 1PM game the rubber match. If KU comes home with two wins in three games their season will have new life. For the Jayhawks it's all about what they do in conference games this year at this point.