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Originally published March 20, 2009 at 06:54p.m., updated March 21, 2009 at 12:37a.m.

KU baseball knocks off No. 1 Texas, 5-4

The Kansas baseball team opened up Big 12 play Friday afternoon against the No. 1 Texas Longhorns.

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KU’s Nick Faunce, left, plays a ball off the wall as teammate Jason Brunansky backs him up. The Jayhawks won, 5-4, on Friday at Hoglund Ballpark.

Considering that the Kansas University baseball team had dropped four of its past five heading into a three-game series with Texas, and considering that Texas happens to be the nation’s No. 1 team according to Baseball America, Friday’s series-opening matchup with the Longhorns at Hoglund Ballpark didn’t exactly look a recipe for success.

Except, well, that’s exactly what it was.

Two days after blowing an eighth-inning lead in a one-run loss to San Diego State, the Jayhawks didn’t make the same mistake Friday, building a quick lead and maintaining it throughout the afternoon en route to a much-needed 5-4 victory.

“It’s been a really tough two weeks,” said KU right fielder Brian Heere, referring to the team’s recent road series against San Diego State and No. 6 Arizona State. “We’ve been losing a lot of one-run games, and it was huge to be able to get one.”

Pitcher Shaeffer Hall allowed just six hits and four runs in seven innings to move to 2-1 this season, while the team’s lineup did enough to saddle Longhorns All-American candidate Chance Ruffin (3-2) with a rare loss.

It was an opportunistic third inning, however, that tilted the game in the Jayhawks’ favor.

Taking advantage of a pair of Longhorns fielding gaffes — including a throwing error by Texas first-baseman Brandon Belt that allowed two runs to score — Kansas (11-7, 1-0 in the Big 12) jumped to a quick 4-0 lead in the bottom half of the inning to put Texas in a rare hole and provide Hall a good deal of wriggle room.

“That was really huge,” Hall said. “Any time you get out early and ahead, you feel a lot more comfortable out there (on the mound).”

The Longhorns, predictably, made an eventual charge, scoring two runs in the top of the fifth on a Kevin Keyes two-run home run and one each in the sixth and seventh innings.

But the Jayhawks’ big third inning — coupled with Preston Land’s RBI single in the bottom of the fifth to push Kansas’ scoring total to five — proved too much to overcome.

“They have such great pitching and they play such great defense that if you’re fortunate enough to put a four-spot up in one inning, you’ve got a chance,” said Kansas coach Ritch Price. “Because they’re not going to give that up very many times.”

Friday’s victory marked the eighth straight for the Jayhawks at home — they’re 8-0 at Hoglund Ballpark this season — and the first victory since upsetting Arizona State, 3-2, on March 14.

What’s more, halfway through a daunting one-month stretch in which they’ve played (or will play) a series against three top-10 teams in Arizona State, Texas (No. 1) and Baylor (No. 9), Friday’s outcome represented a significant sign of progress — one not lost on Price.

“I’ve told our guys there’s about a 16-game stretch where no team in America’s going to play a tougher schedule than we are,” Price said. “And we’re almost halfway through it — it doesn’t get any easier. The thing about it is, you’ve got to look forward to the challenge, and I think our guys are relishing the opportunity.”

Comments

jayhawkr34 10 years, 10 months ago

very nice....maybe some nat'l press for the bb team.

Rodney Stice 10 years, 10 months ago

Great job. I wish I could have watched that game.

CaramelMacchMan 10 years, 10 months ago

OHhh yeah!! I have been to like 6 baseball games so far.

sevenyearhawk 10 years, 10 months ago

AWESOME!!!!!

A great way to start conference play ...

kjayhawksone1988 10 years, 10 months ago

Good job, great way to start conference play, go for the sweep this weekend. Rock Chalk.

EnviroHawk7 10 years, 10 months ago

I'm not that big of a baseball fan (I actually don't care.) But I know that is huge.

ROCK CHALK JAYHAWK

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