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Jayhawks escape Bear trap. Faunce walk-off homerun caps seven run KU rally.

This one had upset written all over it.  Trailing 4-1 in the eighth inning Kansas rallied to score seven runs in the final two frames and beat the Northern Colorado Bears 8-6.  This team just does not like losing.


In a game in which I expected Kansas to score early and often Northern Colorado starter James Quisenberry handed off a 4-1 lead to the bullpen after 7.2 innings of depressingly effective pitching.  Quisenberry entered the game with a 9.13 ERA so his performance was not at all expected.  Once the Jayhawks got Quisenberry out of the game they went to work on the shallow Bear bullpen.  Kansas rallied to score three runs in the bottom of the eighth to tie up the game, and then four more in the bottom of the ninth to overcome a renewed 6-4 Northern Colorado lead built in the top of the inning on the strength of Andy Mees and Kevin Sandberg back to back solo homeruns.  Both homers were hit off KU closer Paul Smyth.   With two outs in the bottom of the ninth KU rallied to tie the game at 6-6 when Jimmy Waters scored all the way from first on a Preston Land single which was bobbled by the Bear's left fielder.  Nick Faunce ended the game in the next at-bat by hitting a homerun to centerfield.  Faunce was met at home plate after rounding the bases by the entire roster.  There was plenty of drama at Hoglund today.

Kansas improves to 16-10 while Northern Colorado falls to 8-16



Additional game notes, KU recap link and box score after the jump.

I am sure everyone on Kansas was glad to see James Quisenberry pulled two outs into the eighth inning.  "Quisenberry pitched well enough to win," said Head Coach Kevin Smallcomb. "He had them off balance all day, he'd put a little something on it, take a little something off. He pitched a good game today."   Smallcomb left his starter in as long as he could and still live with himself.  Quisenberry threw 121 pitches today.


Robby Price and Zac Elgie made nice defensive plays today.  Price caught a foul ball while leaning into the KU bullpen in the top of the fourth.  He quickly recovered his balance and threw the ball home to hold a runner at third.  Zac Elgie continues to show improvement at first base.  Today he dug a low throw from Tony Thompson out of the dirt to retire Erik Hegstad and end the NC 7th inning.


KU starter Cameron Selik continued to have trouble going deep in his games.  He was pulled after 4.2 innings of work today, giving up six hits, three runs and a walk.  He did strike out seven batters, which is certainly a plus to his line.  Kevin Burk and Colton Murray pitched scoreless relief.  Travis Blankenship gave up a solo homerun to NC catcher Seth Budde to lead off the 8th inning.  Paul Smyth gave up two solo homeruns in his single inning of work.  The KU closer has now given up 4 long balls in 15.1 innings.


The wind was blowing out of Hoglund today, but I don’t want to take much away from the power display put on by these teams.  The homeruns hit by Kevin Sandberg, Andy Mees and Nick Faunce were all impressive.  Mees and Faunce both hit their shots to center field so each were well over 400 feet.  Sandberg’s shot went out to left field.  It hit the barren tree near the corner of the outfield thirty feet above the ground and rattled around in the branches.  These were all properly punished baseballs.


David Narodowski collected three hits and two RBI’s today.  Nick Faunce hit his second homerun of the year while going 2-4 with 3 RBIs.  Tony Thompson and Robby Price each had a pair of hits.  Jimmy Waters and Preston Land both delivered pinch hits in the ninth inning to get the final KU rally going.


It was a cold and windy day at the ball park.  While official attendence was 611 I  guess there were actually about 100 fans braving the cold and wind.  Towards the end of the game the Northern Colorado cheering section was pretty lively.  I did overhear some of the NC parents talking about starting a petition to have college games shorted to seven innings.  It must have been a hard loss for them.


Link to KU Recap


2009 Kansas Baseball
N Colorado at Kansas
Mar 31, 2009 at Lawrence, KS (Hoglund Ballpark)

N Colorado 6 (8-16)

Player   ab    r    h  rbi   bb   so   po    a  lob 
Hilker, Adam ss 
Raudenbush, Mike rf 
  Borzileri, Tyler ph/rf 
Mees, Andy 1b 
Sandberg, Kevin dh 
Hegstad, Erik lf 
Budde, Seth c 
Berge, T.J. 2b 
Santucci, Phil 3b 
Berggren, Jarod cf 
Quisenberry, James p 
  Scott, Forbes p 
  Willman, Joe p 
Totals  37  11  13  26 

Kansas 8 (16-10)

Player   ab    r    h  rbi   bb   so   po    a  lob 
Narodowski, David ss 
Price, Robby 2b 
Brunansky, Jason cf 
  Heere, Brian ph/lf 
Afenir, Buck dh 
Thompson, Tony 3b 
Lytle, Casey rf 
Lincoln, Joe 13 
  Waters, Jimmy ph 
Elgie, Zac 1b 
  Land, Preston 1b/ph 
Marasco, Jake lf 
  Faunce, Nick ph/lf 
Selik, Cameron
  Murray, Colton p 
  Blankenship, Travis p 
  Burk, Kevin p 
  Smyth, Paul p 
Totals  41  14  27  11 

Score by Innings                    R  H  E
N Colorado.......... 000 300 012 -  6 11  4
Kansas.............. 000 100 034 -  8 14  1

Note: 2 outs, 0 runners LOB when the game ended.

E - Hilker, A. 2(15); Hegstad, E.(3); Berge, TJ(7); Price, Ro.(2). DP - Kansas 1. LOB - N Colorado 8; Kansas 11. 2B - Sandberg, K.(3); Hegstad, E.(6); Berge, TJ(5); Thompson, T.(10); Faunce, N.(7). 3B - Narodowski(1). HR - Mees, A.(7); Sandberg, K.(11); Budde, S.(1); Faunce, N.(2). HBP - Santucci, P.. SH - Price, Ro.(7). SB - Price, Ro.(1). CS - Narodowski(2).

N Colorado   ip  er  bb  so  wp  bk  hbp  ibb  ab  bf  fo  go  np 
Quisenberry, James   7.2  32  36  13  121 
Scott, Forbes   0.0 
Willman, Joe L,1-3  1.0  33 
Kansas   ip  er  bb  so  wp  bk  hbp  ibb  ab  bf  fo  go  np 
Selik, Cameron   4.2  19  21  84 
Murray, Colton   1.2  36 
Blankenship, Travis   1.0  15 
Burk, Kevin   0.2 
Smyth, Paul W,1-4  1.0  19 

Win - Smyth, P. (1-4). Loss - Willman, J. (1-3). Save - None. WP - Quisenberry 2(3). HBP - by Selik, C. (Santucci, P.). Pitches/strikes: Quisenberry 121/74; Scott, F. 8/5; Willman, J. 33/19; Selik, C. 84/56; Murray, C. 36/18; Blankenship 15/8; Burk, K. 9/7; Smyth, P. 19/14.

Umpires - HP: Ben Harlow 1B: Travis Olson 3B: Bob Homolka
Start: 3:04 pm Time: 3:13 Attendance: 611
Weather: Cloudy, Windy, 48 degrees
Scott, F. faced 1 batter in the 8th.