KU had a successful week on the diamond, as they swept the season series from Wichita State, then went to Morgantown and took two of three from the Mountaineers. The Jayhawks continue to pound the ball with their bats, and the pitching is finally showing signs of life.
Tuesday, April 21 - @ Kansas 11, Wichita State 6
The Shockers took an early 2-1 lead, but the KU bats had the answer and Wichita State just couldn't keep up. KU was led offensively by LF Connor McKay (3/4, BB, 2 R, 2 RBI), while SS Matt McLaughlin and RF Dakota Smith each chipped in a home run. The Jayhawks used four pitchers during the contest. The lightly used freshman Brandon Johnson (3.0 IP, 2 BB, 2 R) got the start and did not allow a single hit. CL Stephen Villines (1.2 IP, K) got the final five outs to pick up his 10th save of the season.
Friday, April 24 - Kansas 3, @ West Virginia 1
Once again the Jayhawks fell behind early as WVU took a 1-0 into the fifth inning, but timely hitting by the Jayhawks and a dominant effort by the pitching staff downed the Mountaineers. The story of the game was probably the three Jayhawk pitchers who combind to hold WVU to four hits on the night: Ben Krauth (6.1 IP, 3 H, R, 4 BB, 8 K), Sam Gilbert (0.2 IP, K), and Stephen Villines (2.0 IP, H, 2 K). KU was led offensively by DH Joven Afenir (2/3, BB, RBI) and 3B Tommy Mirabelli (2/4, R, RBI).
Saturday, April 25 - Kansas 9, @ West Virginia 5
This time, it was the Jayhawks who jumped out to an early lead, and the pitching made it hold up. Interestingly, KU 5 runs in the top of the first, 4 runs in the top of the 9th, and no runs from the second to the eighth innings. Connor McKay (4/5, R, RBI, BB) had a stellar day at the plate, as did RF Dakota Smith (2/5, 2 R, 2 RBI). SP Drew Morovick (6.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, BB, 5 K) was in command on the hill. WVU did pick up a pair of solo home runs off Stephen Villines in the bottom of the 9th, but it wasn't enough to keep the Jayhawks from winning their third game in a row.
Sunday, April 26 - @ West Virginia 5, Kansas 4
The Jayhawks batted around in the top of the second inning while plating four runs, but WVU answered in the bottom half with three of their own. When WVU picked up a pair of runs off of KU reliever Blake Weiman (3.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R) in the 7th inning, KU couldn't answer and dropped the series finale in Morgantown. SP Sean Rackoscki (5.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, BB, 7 K) threw a good game. KU was led offensively by 2B Justin Protacio (3/5, RBI) and CF Joven Afenir (2/3, R).
Said head coach Ritch Price, "It was huge for us to come in here and get the series win. We came into the weekend at the bottom of the conference standings, but we were able to show we can compete and win games. Our pitching has taken huge strides from the beginning of the season and I hope we can keep improving."
With the series win over West Virginia, the Jayhawks moved from 9th to 7th in the Big 12 standings. The 9th place team when the season ends does not get to participate in the conference tournament, so it's important to stay out of that spot.
The Jayhawks (19-25, 6-9) will host Arkansas - Pine Bluff (22-16, 14-6) in a midweek matchup at Hoglund Ballpark on Wednesday before the Baylor Bears (17-26, 6-12) invade Lawrence.
All four games can be heard on the Jayhawk Radio Network through KUAthletics.com/Radio or on the official Kansas Jayhawks mobile app.
In addition, all four games will be available on the Jayhawk Television Network and ESPN3 (blackout conditions may apply).