Baseball beats Baker, continues winning streak
- Apr. 17, 2012
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The Kansas baseball team (14-23, 3-9 Big 12) kept its winning streak alive Tuesday night with a 7-3 victory against Baker University.
Coming off their biggest win of the season, the Jayhawks found themselves in the familiar spot of trailing in the first inning. But as Kansas did on Sunday against No. 2 Texas A&M, the offense responded.
With one on and one out in the first inning, senior third baseman Zac Elgie launched the go-ahead two-run homerun deep over the trees in left field. Eligie’s homer – his fifth of the season – gave Kansas a 2-1 lead, which it never relinquished to the NAIA Wildcats.
Heading into the game, Elgie reminded his teammates that they had to deliver against Baker’s best shot, but he led by example with the monster home run.
“It’s one of things against these NAIA teams, where you know you’re going to get a pitch to hit,” Elgie said. “The hardest part is laying off those pitches that are their pitches and trying to find the one that you want.”
Coach Ritch Price emphasized that these mid-week games are meant for the development of his younger players; but, to give the bench more playing time, Kansas needed an early lead. Elgie’s home run gave Kansas the advantage necessary for Price to turn toward his bench.
“When you’re trying to clear your bench, it’s important to get ahead early,” Price said. “We had to get a clutch swing for that to happen. If we ended up playing seven or eight of our regular guys, then this game doesn’t do us any good at all.”
The two first-inning runs were all that freshman pitcher Robert Kahana needed to hold off Baker. Kahana pitched five innings and allowed one run on four hits, striking out a career-high six batters. The win improved Kahana’s record to 3-1, and he holds a team-best 2.92 ERA.
The Jayhawks used 20 players in the ballgame, and freshman outfielder Dakota Smith led the young players, hitting two-for-three with an RBI. Smith is on a three-game hitting streak, which has improved his batting average by 43 points in one week (.246). The key to Smith’s improvement at the plate has been simplifying his offensive approach.
“It definitely feels good to get back on track,” Smith said. “They gave us pitches to hit, and we hit them.”
The Jayhawks will take the field tonight against the University of St. Mary – another NAIA team – and Price plans to apply Tuesday night’s approach to Wednesday’s matchup.
“I expect to do basically the same thing,” Price said. “That’s the plan, and we’ll start the freshman Drew Morovick and hopefully go out there and do the same thing tomorrow.”
Edited by Corinne Westeman