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Saturday, May 19, 2012

They’re in! KU beats Mizzou, earns trip to tourney

KU players jump out of the dugout and run on to the field after the Jayhawks defeated Missouri 6-3 Friday, May 18, 2012, at Hoglund Ballpark. The win assured KU a spot in the Big 12 baseball tournament.

KU players jump out of the dugout and run on to the field after the Jayhawks defeated Missouri 6-3 Friday, May 18, 2012, at Hoglund Ballpark. The win assured KU a spot in the Big 12 baseball tournament.

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photo

Mike Yoder

KU players jump out of the dugout and run on to the field after the Jayhawks defeated Missouri 6-3 Friday, May 18, 2012, at Hoglund Ballpark. The win assured KU a spot in the Big 12 baseball tournament.

photo

Mike Yoder

Freshman pitcher Wes Benjamin delivers a pitch during the Jayhawks' 6-3 victory over Missouri on Friday, May 18, 2012, at Hoglund Ballpark. The win assured KU a spot in the Big 12 baseball tournament.

They’re in. And they made it in the sweetest way possible.

Friday night at Hoglund Ballpark, in front of a loud and proud pack of more than 1,500 Jayhawk supporters, Kansas University’s baseball team clinched a berth in next week’s Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City with a 6-3 victory over Missouri.

KU’s second straight triumph over the rival Tigers was never in doubt. At times, it looked a lot like the 1-0 victory the Jayhawks picked up Thursday night, as freshman starter Wes Benjamin tossed seven solid innings, striking out three and giving up just four hits.

Picking up where sophomore ace Frank Duncan left off on Thursday, Benjamin held the Tigers (27-26 overall, 9-14 Big 12) scoreless for five innings, making it 14 straight zeros on the scoreboard for Mizzou during the past two days.

“That motivated me a little bit,” Benjamin said of Duncan’s complete-game shutout.

Friday’s gem was Benjamin’s second straight solid outing. Last week, in a crucial game against Kansas State, the freshman from St. Charles, Ill., tossed a complete-game shutout of his own to beat the Wildcats.

“I’d rather have it now than at the beginning of the season,” said Benjamin, noting he thought KU’s entire pitching staff was starting to click at the right time. “The last two series have been against our biggest rivals, and I think that’s been a big part of it.”

That fact, no doubt, played a key role Friday. Of course the Jayhawks wanted to clinch a spot in the postseason, but beating Mizzou was nearly as important. And it showed. Throughout the night, and throughout each of the last two days, really, KU’s players seemed to have a little extra fire in everything they did. At-bats lasted a little longer, defensive plays looked more locked-in, and the energy in the dugout started high and stayed there throughout both victories.

“Obviously, this is an important rivalry,” said KU designated hitter Alex DeLeon, who finished 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run Friday. “Our goal coming in to the weekend was to sweep Missouri. We want to sweep ’em tomorrow.”

DeLeon was one of four Jayhawks to pick up RBIs Friday, as the Jayhawks (22-31, 7-15) picked up one run in the first, one more in the second and two in the third to open an early 4-0 lead.

“That works wonders for the total pitching performance,” Benjamin said.

Left fielder Michael Suiter — the offensive hero Thursday — tacked on two more RBIs Friday, and catcher James Stanfield (2-for-4) and center fielder Dakota Smith each added RBIs.

But the story of the night was the pitching, and KU coach Ritch Price was more than happy to point that out after accepting congratulatory hugs and handshakes following the victory.

“To compete in this league, your pitching has to be rock solid,” Price said. “And to get those two quality starts, back-to-back, from a sophomore and a freshman was special.”

More importantly, it sets up the Jayhawks, who currently sit in seventh place in the league standings, a half game ahead of Kansas State (7-16), to focus on nothing but finishing off the Tigers in style today, in what figures to be the final game, in any sport, in the historic Border War for a long time.

“As they go to the SEC, I’m gonna pump our guys up tomorrow,” Price said. “We’re gonna play tomorrow for anyone who’s ever worn a Jayhawk uniform in the past, and we’re gonna step on their throat. That’s our goal.”

The Jayhawks and Tigers will close the series and the regular season at 1 p.m. today.

Comments

Ludwig Supraphonic 2 years, 11 months ago

Lets close this out with a sweep today. Great effort guys!

texashawk10 2 years, 11 months ago

“We’re gonna play tomorrow for anyone who’s ever worn a Jayhawk uniform in the past, and we’re gonna step on their throat. That’s our goal.”

Love this quote because it shows that Coach Price gets how important this rivalry is to KU and how huge it would be to sweep the kitties this weekend.

Jack Jones 2 years, 11 months ago

CONGRATULATIONS on a clutch victory. HEY, MIZZU - DON'T LET THE DOOR HIT YOU IN THE U NO WHAT!

Martin Rosenblum 2 years, 11 months ago

I usually don't pay attention to a sport with a ball that isn't inflatable. But, this is special! I can't believe there were only 1500 people watching that game. This was history in the making.

"... the Tigers (27-26 overall, 9-14 Big 12) scoreless for five innings, making it 14 straight zeros on the scoreboard for Mizzou during the past two days.." This won't transfer to the SEC very well. Baseball is big stuff in the SEC. The venues are better than a lot of minor league stadiums in the SEC. The Ole Miss facility is unbelievable as is the one at Tennessee. I can imagine the Florida park would be equally as nice. Sorry, Mizz., you won't be a factor in this sport either.

Rock Chalk Baseball Hawks!

sawman3333 2 years, 11 months ago

SEC currently has 6 teams ranked. (1,2,8,9, 18 and 23) Best of luck Mizery!

Ben Kane 2 years, 11 months ago

i think that's about all hoglund ballpark holds.

Dyrk Dugan 2 years, 11 months ago

a great series clinching win.....and a berth in the Big 12 tourney. This rivalry ends today because of Moo, let's not forget that. Sweep these guys and send the Tiggers back to Columbia as the wannabes and never beens that they are.

Go Jayhawks!

Vernon Riggs 2 years, 11 months ago

"...we’re gonna step on their throat...."

I like this guy!

Jeff Coffman 2 years, 11 months ago

Important article; however, pretty slow day in the news I guess.

texashawk10 2 years, 11 months ago

Sadly, those traitors won the finale today 6-3. We need one more meeting in the tournament to end the series properly.

JayHok 2 years, 11 months ago

In baseball it's who won the series. I would have preferred a sweep too. Put this with our football win in 1891 to start the Mizzou competition. KU still bookended Mizzou!

Sam Constance 2 years, 11 months ago

Someone told me Misery baseball was good.

But then again, it was a Misery fan.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!!!!!!!!!!

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