Exactly four Fridays ago, Kansas University baseball coach Ritch Price handed over his Friday night starter duties to senior Jordan Piche’, a former all-Big 12 closer who had not made a start since junior college.
In his return to the first inning, Piche’ was roughed up by Kansas State in a 10-0 loss.
“That was rock bottom,” a smiling Piche’ said on Friday night, moments after putting the finishing touches on his second consecutive complete-game victory, an 11-3 triumph over visiting Texas Tech. “For me it was just a matter of settling down and getting used to that starting spot. I love Friday nights now.”
While Price knew it was a gamble at the time, what he has seen from Piche’ during the past few weeks has validated the move to starter.
“When you close as many games as he did last year and you’re first team all-conference, you’ve got great make-up,” Price said. “You have to be a great, great competitor, and I wanted somebody that wanted that, who would thrive in that matchup on Friday night and he’s done that. It’s really a testimony to his work ethic and his competitiveness.”
Other than the two-run home run he gave up in the top of the fourth inning, Piche’ was fantastic in this one. He gave up just one earned run, walked none and struck out seven. More importantly, he worked quickly, attacked the strike zone and kept the Red Raider hitters off balance all night.
“I know they’re good but it was just another team for me,” Piche’ said. “I felt like we were ahead of the batter all night and I think that made the difference in shutting them down a little bit and keeping the hits to a minimum. I just felt great. It was one of those nights where everything clicked and you don’t ask questions out there.”
Piche’ might not have asked much of his offense either, but he got a lot. Led by a monster home run and four RBIs from Michael Suiter, and four RBIs from second baseman Colby Wright, the Jayhawks exploded for their highest run total since scoring 11 on March 26 in a win against Creighton. KU (28-20 overall, 10-9 Big 12) tallied three runs in three separate innings against Texas Tech (36-14, 11-8) and took advantage of eight walks and three hit batters to score 11 runs on just six hits.
“It’s just what our team needed,” Piche’ said. “We’re getting hot at the right time.”
The series continues at 2 p.m. today at Hoglund Ballpark.
Texas Tech 000 200 001 — 3 7 1
Kansas 003 033 20X — 11 6 1
W – Jordan Piche’ (6-5). L – Ryan Moseley (1-2).
2B — Colby Wright and Dakota Smith, KU; Tyler Neslony, Texas Tech. HR — Michael Suiter, KU; Adam Kirsch, TTU.
KU highlights — Jordan Piche’ 9 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 7 K; Justin Protacio 0-for-2, 2 runs; Colby Wright 2-for-4, 2B, 4 RBI, 2 runs; Michael Suiter 1-for-4, HR, 4 RBI, run; Dakota Smith 3-for-5, 2B, RBI, run; Ka’iana Eldredge 0-for-1, 3 walks, 3 runs.