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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Narodowski powers KU baseball

Junior jacks two HRs in 11-2 victory

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If he had hit like this two months ago, David Narodowski might still be the Kansas University baseball team’s cleanup hitter.

The 5-foot-9 Narodowski contributed two home runs — his first two of the season — as the Jayhawks coasted to an 11-2 victory Tuesday over Baker at Hoglund Ballpark.

“Every game (teammates) keep asking me, ‘Oh, when are you going to hit that first one? Come on, man. Let’s go. Let’s see it,’” Narodowski said.

The 5-foot-9, 192-pound leadoff hitter — who batted cleanup in seven of the Jayhawks’ first eight games this season — finally showed his might against Baker.

Narodowski led off the bottom of the first with a towering shot to right-center.

Before Tuesday’s game, the junior had no home runs in 149 at-bats.

It had been such a long drought that, for a few seconds, his Jayhawk teammates jokingly “big-leagued” him: staying in the dugout after his home run instead of going out to congratulate him.

“I’ve always had a few home runs every year — five or six or seven at least,” Narodowski said. “It was just a slow year this year.”

Narodowski — who idolized sluggers Jason Bay and Justin Morneau while growing up in Vancouver, British Columbia — proved his power wasn’t a fluke in his second plate appearance.

The right-handed hitter yanked a hanging 3-2 pitch into the pine trees in left, good for his second straight dinger.

“As shocking as you guys thought that was, he was physical enough to hit there (in the four spot),” Price said. “It’s good to see him turning on the ball and driving the ball now.”

The rest of the Jayhawks followed Narodowski’s lead.

KU scored multiple runs in each of the first three innings, building an 8-1 lead before the teams started shuffling in reserves.

Kevin Burk picked up the win in relief, allowing just three hits and no runs in 41⁄3 innings.

Tony Thompson added a double and four RBIs, while Zac Elgie also contributed a pair of hits.

Baker (13-22) was led by Chad Griffin, who went 2-for-3 with an RBI.

The Jayhawks (26-14) will play Missouri at 7 tonight at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

“Any time you play against Mizzou, you want to beat them — no doubt about that — and you want to beat them bad,” KU second baseman Robby Price said.

It will be the second straight year the two teams have met in a nonconference game at the neutral site.

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