The Kansas offense stayed in high gear Saturday as the Jayhawks defeated Oklahoma in another shoot-out, 13-10. While Friday's 17-15 triumph could largely be explained by the cold and windy conditions, yesterday afternoon was picture perfect - sunny and warm, with a moderate breeze from which only a few fly balls took advantage. Once more Oklahoma nearly matched the KU offensive explosion, keeping the game interesting through the final out. Kansas will go for the sweep this afternoon at 1PM. Should the Jayhawks win today they will have moved from last place to 7th in the conference, separating themselves by at least a game from Oklahoma, Kansas State and Texas Tech.
The game started off in fairly typical fashion. Andres Esquibel gave up two runs in the first four innings and looked to be gaining strength as the game wore on. In the bottom of the fourth the Hawks blew the contest wide open by exploding for eight runs. The crowd was quickly reminded that even a 10-2 lead might not be enough this weekend as Oklahoma responded with five of their own runs in the top of the fifth. Esquibel gave up six consecutive hits to start the inning before being relieved by Shaeffer Hall. Hall stayed in the game for three innings, allowing two more runs. Nick Faunce gave KU the insurance runs the crowd wanted in the bottom of the eighth when he hit a two-run homer to stake the Jayhawks to a 13-9 lead. For the second consecutive night Paul Smyth came on to pitch the final two innings and nail down a victory.
Once more the KU lineup was full of offensive heroes. John Allman, Robby Price, Casey Larson, Buck Afenir and Jimmy Waters all enjoyed multiple hit days. Allman (5), Price (2), Faunce (2) and Erik Morrison (6) all hit homeruns. It has been more than two years since KU has hit this many homers in a single game. The most runs Kansas has ever scored in a Big-12 series is 35. The Hawks already have 30 after the first two games this weekend so will be going for a new record today.
Despite giving up ten runs the KU defense stood out as particularly sharp yesterday. Robby Price made some very good stops in the 4-3 hole. Tony Thompson brought the crowd to their feet in the 8th inning with a highlight reel stop of a screaming grounder down the third-base line followed by a strong throw to first to peg the runner. John Allman saved a run in the seventh by making a great basket catch in front of his body while charging a Texas-leaguer with "hit" written all over it. The Hawks aggressive baserunning tactics also were on display yesterday. In the bottom of the fourth Jimmy Waters scored from second base on a Robby Price infield single. The following inning he turned a single into a double when he took advantage of Oklahoma left fielder Spencer Selby's lacksidasical effort retrieving the ball and getting it back to the infield. Tony Thompson gave up an out by some poor base running but overall KU's hard noised running style paid off yesterday.
Prior to the game Oklahoma coach Galloway held the team behind closed doors for 45 minutes. According to Brian Hanni the substance of the "meeting" was that the team was in great danger of missing the NCAA tournament for the second straight year and they needed to step up their game. I guess it will be no less tense in that locker room today.
Game three starts at 1PM Sunday. Come on down to Hoglund to cheer on the Hawks. There was a really nice crowd yesterday of 1,300 sending a lot of positive energy down to the players. The weather looks every bit as perfect today. There really is no better place to be on a beautiful Sunday afternoon than a ballpark.