First, the good news: Kansas University’s baseball team is starting to shake its early-season slump at the plate.
The bad news? The Jayhawks’ bats were just about the only thing working in Sunday’s 10-4 setback to Eastern Michigan at Hoglund Ballpark.
“When you’re going bad,” Kansas coach Ritch Price said, “everything gets magnified.”
KU (7-8) jumped ahead, 2-0, in the first inning on loud RBI hits by Alex DeLeon and Jake Marasco, but quickly squandered the lead after an error by Chris Manship — one of four KU miscues on the day — allowed the Eagles to rally for four runs in the second.
Though only one of the four was earned, the Eagles smacked around Tanner Poppe in the frame, cracking two loud doubles and an opposite-field homer by Ken Battison.
“I actually thought Tanner was throwing the ball well, and we had a couple chances to make plays we didn’t make,” Price said.
Poppe lasted only five innings, but neither Scott Heitshusen nor Thomas Taylor fared much better against the Eagles (9-6), who tacked on two runs in the sixth and eighth innings.
The Jayhawks, who racked up 13 hits, continued to make solid contact against Corey Chaffins, who benefitted from three double play balls.
“When you’ve got guys on base, you’ve got to get some clutch hits,” Price said. “And we hit into three double plays and it just destroys the momentum in your dugout.”
That aside, Price commended his club for maintaining a positive demeanor even as EMU continued to string together hits — especially after Saturday’s game, where he expressed disappointment with how the Jayhawks (7-8) handled themselves.
“It doesn’t really put down our spirits,” said Casey Lytle, who was one of four Jayhawks to record multiple hits (along with Manship, Marasco and Brandon Macias).
“It gives us the motivation to come back out and put the fight back to them.”
As it worked out on Sunday, very few of the bounces went KU’s way, loud outs and double-play balls included.
“It’s like we can’t escape right now with what’s going on,” Price said.
“But it’s a four-month season and those things all average out. We just need to keep the right approach in our dugout and we’ll get better, and we’ll play through it.”
KU will travel to take on No. 14 Arkansas at 3 p.m. on Wednesday at Fayeteville, Ark.