Jayhawks Blast Texas Pitching Staff

The Kansas Jayhawks (18-19, 4-7 Big 12) launched three homeruns against No. 6 Texas (27-10, 8-3 Big 12) in a 14-6 win over the Longhorns in Lawrence, Kan. on Friday.

It was a back-and-forth ballgame with Kansas holding a 4-3 lead over Texas through three. But a six-run fourth inning for the Jayhawks blew the game open and gave the home team the win on a cold afternoon in Lawrence.

Kansas came into the game hitting only .286 as a team, but the Jayhawks put up 12 hits on some of the Longhorns' top pitchers, including Texas ace Adrian Alaniz, who only pitched three innings and gave up five runs. Kansas scored in seven of its eight innings at the plate.

After Longhorn left fielder Jordan Danks drew a walk to open the game, the NCAA's leader in homeruns, Kyle Russell, came to the plate for Texas…and bunted. Russell's SAC bunt moved Danks over to second base, but that's Augie Garrido for you. The Texas head coach will bunt anybody and move runners if the situation is right. Danks scored on the next swing of the bat when Bradley Suttle fired a 2-0 pitch into the left-center gap for an RBI double.

Kansas responded immediately in the bottom of the first, putting up a pair of the runs on Alaniz, who has the Longhorn's most dominant arm this season.

The runs in the first inning were all small-ball style, which Texas and Kansas both frequently employ, but the power hitting started in the bottom of the second. The stiff Kansas wind carried designated hitter Casey Larson's deep fly ball over the fence for another Kansas run. Coming into the game, Alaniz had retired 32 of his last 40 batters faced and sported a 1.75 ERA, but after two innings the Jayhawks had put three up on the Texas right hander.

Alaniz struggled to get a good grip on the ball all day and in the bottom of the third two wild pitches produced another Kansas run. Alaniz struck out Erik Morrison, but it was on a wild pitch and Morrison got to first before Texas catcher Preston Clark could gather the ball. After Ryne Price bunted Morrison over, the Kansas short stop stole third base. With Kansas catcher Buck Afenir at the plate, Alaniz winged another wild pitch and Price made it home. Texas' ace pitcher had thrown 63 pitches through only three innings in the stinging cold.

After the Longhorns went two innings without any runs, Texas scored again in the top of the fourth. An RBI triple from Nick Peoples off the top of the wall, just below the red homerun stripe, scored Travis Tucker and Texas now only trailed 4-2. After Russell Moldenhaur walked, Josh Prince laid down a SAC bunt to score Peoples and take the Kansas lead down to one. Going into the bottom of the fourth, Texas only trailed 4-3 despite the early troubles in the game and things were still looking bright for the Longhorns.

And that's when the Jayhawks went crazy.

To start off the bottom of the fourth, Larson hit his second homerun of the day and his third of the series. Larson came into the series against Texas with only a single round-tripper on the season and two games in he's quadrupled that total. After Kansas lead-off hitter Kyle Murphy put a double off the left field wall, Alaniz's day was done. Texas' top pitcher finished with three innings pitched, giving up six hits, five runs (four of them earned), three walks and struck out two.

Austin Wood came in to pitch for Texas but threw eight consecutive balls to walk the next two batters and load the bases. Texas pitching coach Skip Johnson called time and marched back out to the mound. Johnson replaced Wood, one of several Texas pitchers auditioning for the third starter role. Reliever Keith Shinaberry came on to try and get the Horns out of the jam.

Kansas clean-up hitter Brock Simpson grounded out to Shinaberry, but Murphy made it home on the play and it was 6-3 Kansas. Texas' sophomore submariner intentionally walked Morrison to create a force, but Price fired a single into center field and an error from Peoples brought home Allman and Robby Price. A SAC fly from Afenir scored Morrison.

Kansas batted around to bring Larson back to the plate, but Larson was lifted for pitch hitter Eric Snowden. It's not often you hit two homeruns and get benched, but given the fact that Larson sits at the bottom of the Kansas line-up, a day like this is pretty uncommon for the Jayhawk DH. The move paid off as Snowden singled up the middle to bring home Price and the score was up to 10-3 Kansas.

Three different pitchers saw the mound for Texas during the six-run fourth and the tight battle was suddenly turning into a blowout.

In the top of the fifth, Texas managed to get a single run when Clark scored on a ground-out from Tucker, but the Horns still had a long way to go. Shinaberry stayed on in the fifth and got the Jayhawks to go 1-2-3, their first three-up, three-down inning of the ballgame. It would be the only full inning in which Kansas did not score.

In the top of the sixth, Danks hit his third homer of the year and it was 10-5 Kansas. Prince grounded into a double-play in the at-bat before Danks, so it was only a solo shot, but the Jayhawk lead was starting to dwindle.

Then Kansas extended its lead in the bottom half of the inning. Morrison doubled to right center and Shinaberry hit Ryan Price to put a second runner on base. Texas pitcher Pat McCrory replaced Shinaberry on the mound, but Kansas scored an additional two runs on the sophomore who began the season as a shortstop. A pair of deep fly balls moved the runners and then scored Morrison on a sacrifice and Price was able to follow Morrison to the plate during the next at bat when McCrory, of course, sent a wild pitch flying past Clark.

With only nine outs left for the Horns to come back from a 12-5 deficit, time was running out for Texas. Chance Wheeless got the seventh started right with a solo homerun, but that was all Texas could muster in the inning as the Jayhawks sat doubled up on the Longhorns.

In the bottom half of the seventh, Allman matched Wheeless' bomb by hitting his first homerun of the season and the Kansas lead was back out to the seven, 13-6. Texas couldn't produce any runs in the eighth while the Jayhawks kept rolling, putting up another run with another SAC fly from Afenir. The Horns went three-up, three-down in the ninth, ending with a Wheeless strikeout.

Alaniz (8-2) was credited with the loss and Zach Ashwood (4-3) picked up the win for Kansas.

The final game of the series at Kansas is Saturday at 1 p.m. The Longhorns' next home series is a weekend set against Texas Tech on April 13th, 14th and 15th.

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