Kansas trumps Nevada 6-3 in game three, Jayhawks lead Wolf Pack 2-1 in series

Kansas coach Ritch Price knows the power of solid weekend pitching. The kind with an edge that shows itself in every at-bat against Big 12-caliber lineups.

That pitching edge was apparent again in game three of the Jayhawks’ weekend series against the Nevada Wolf Pack in Mesa, Ariz. In a 6-3 victory, Kansas pitchers gave up two earned runs on 12 hits, a credit to both pitching and defense.

“It’s definitely the strength of our team,” Price said. “We have good starting pitching and on top of that we’re really solid in the bullpen. One great thing about pitching is it comes to the ballpark every day. Some days you aren’t gonna hit, but if you pitch everyday you’re going to have a chance to win.”

Down 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning, the Jayhawks again manufactured a solid offensive inning. The Jayhawks’ three-run burst started as Dakota Smith scored on a sac fly from Ka’iana Eldredge. Kevin Kuntz then hit an RBI single scoring Michael Suiter, and Jordan Dreiling singled to right field to score Jacob Boylan and cap the Jayhawks’ scoring.

“I think it’s just everyone not wanting to give up an at bat,” said senior third-baseman Jordan Dreiling-. “No one wants to give up an at-bat. Especially, with runners in scoring position. You really step in the box wanting to get the job done. So far it’s working out for us.”

Kansas is making its offensive living with this station-to-station approach to the plate. The Jayhawks struck out once in Sunday’s game, leaving four runners on base.

“It’s always nice to back up starting pitching like we did,” Dreiling said. “We gave them that extra fight late in the games. When Wes goes out and pitches as well as he did, it’s on us hitters to go out and finish the job.”

The Kansas bullpen also played a large role in finishing the job.

After entering in the final two innings, junior relief pitcher Jordan Piche’ closed the game and earned the win for the Jayhawks, giving up three hits and recording two strikeouts.

“He’s special,” Price said. “That’s the role we see him in. We aren’t gonna use him as just a one-inning close guy like they do in the Major League level. We’re going to bring him in the seventh and eighth innings and let him close out games and use Kahana the next day.”

Over the weekend, The Jayhawks’ defensive progression appeared obvious in the comeback victories of games one and three. The defensive intensity of coach Price’s team doesn’t surprise many within the program.

“As a team, we’ve prepared as well as we could,” Dreiling said. “Going to the Dominican, we’ve got as many reps as we can and I think everyone is keeping up their work ethic and it’s paying off.”

Price echoed Dreiling’s sentiment.

“The comebacks really show the progress that our young hitters have made from a year ago,” Price said. “The come-from-behind win was something we didn’t really do a year ago. I think it shows the progress of the team as a whole.”

The Jayhawks’ senior starting pitcher Tanner Poppe takes the mound in game four with the opportunity to secure a 3-1 series win over the Wolf Pack. First pitch is Monday at 1 p.m. from Hohokam Ballpark in Mesa, Ariz.

  • Updated Feb. 18, 2013 at 12:11 am
  • Edited by Tara Bryant