PORT CHARLOTTE, FLA. Ka’iana Eldredge and Blair Beck had back-to-back clutch hits late to propel Kansas University’s baseball team to a come-from-behind victory over Milwaukee, 9-8, on Saturday at the Snowbird Classic.
Kansas trailed by two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning before beginning its rally. Eldredge came to the plate with two outs and two runners on and, on the second pitch, laced what appeared to be a two-RBI triple down the left-field line. Instead, his hit was called a ground-rule double, which scored Dakota Smith but forced Tucker Tharp back to third base. The Jayhawks didn’t have to wait long for the tying run, when, in the next at-bat, Beck smoked his only hit of the game to left field. Both Tharp and Eldredge scored to give the Jayhawks (6-0) the final lead.
“I was just looking for a good pitch to hit,” Beck said. “Ka’iana and Tucker got on for me in the beginning and really started it off for us. Ka’iana had a really big hit. I was just really looking to grind it out and help the team win.”
Freshman Stephen Villines picked up the win for KU — the first of his career — while allowing just one hit and one run in 22⁄3 innings after relieving junior starter Robert Kahana (10 hits, six earned runs in 51⁄3 innings). Senior closer Jordan Piché threw 73 pitches in an 11-inning victory on Friday, so freshman Jon Hander (one hit, one inning) held off Milwaukee for his first save.
Connor McKay led the way on offense for the Jayhawks, totalling five RBIs on a sacrifice fly in the first inning and a grand slam in the fifth.
Kansas continues play at the Snowbird Classic today, taking on Mississippi Valley State at 1:30 p.m.
Milwaukee 010 033 100 — 8 12 2
Kansas 110 040 03X — 9 7 4
W — Stephen Villines, 1-0. L — Justin Jaquish, 0-1. SV — Jon Hander (1).
2B — Sam Koenig, Milwaukee; Ka’iana Eldredge, Kansas; Blair Beck, Kansas. HR — Nick Unes, Milwaukee; Ryan Solberg, Milwaukee; Connor McKay, Kansas.
Kansas highlights — McCay 1-for-3, 5 RBI, 1 R; Beck 1-for-4, 2 RBI; Eldredge 1-for-3, 1 RBI, 1 R; Tommy Mirabelli 1-for-2, 2 R, SB; Tucker Tharp 1-for-3, 2 R, SB.