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Saturday, April 1, 2017

Jayhawks turn back Texas on final play

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After three hours of hard-fought baseball, Saturday afternoon’s contest between Kansas and Texas came down to a play the Jayhawks practice at least twice a week.

With the potential tying run rounding third base for the Longhorns, KU sophomore Devin Foyle sprinted toward a ball in left field. After a textbook scoop and throw, freshman catcher Jaxx Groshans applied the tag at the plate for the final out of the game, sealing a 2-1 Kansas win at Hoglund Ballpark.

“The big thing is we try to get the ball down and use the turf so we can get a long bounce off the turf,” coach Ritch Price said. “It’s a great win for the Jayhawks.”

Even with late game heroics, Kansas needed an excellent performance from Taylor Turski to be in that position, and he delivered. After missing his last scheduled start with knee soreness, Turski pitched six shutout innings, struck out eight batters and walked three.

“He’s been absolutely special all season,” Price said. “We needed his best effort today. I knew he’d pitch well today. He’s got great makeup and maturity, and he came here to pitch against Texas, TCU and the rest of the great teams that we play.”

Turski faced his fair share of adversity throughout the day, but always got himself out of trouble. He stranded six Texas base runners, including two in the first inning when it appeared Texas (19-11, 4-4 Big 12) was poised for a quick start.

“It’s all about keeping your composure,” Turski said. “If you hold yourself well up there, and you know you’re good enough, you’ll get out of it. I’ve lived for those moments my entire life.”

The Kansas (11-15, 2-3 Big 12) offense still didn’t completely solve its issues, but it did just enough to ensure a win despite leaving 10 runners on base.

The Jayhawks loaded the bases with two straight singles after an error by the Longhorns to start the fourth inning. Junior first basemen Owen Taylor was hit by a pitch, which brought home the first run of the game. But KU stranded three runners in the inning.

KU freshman outfielder Brett Vosik gave the Jayhawks a 2-0 lead with an RBI single in the sixth inning.

After two more scoreless innings, Kansas senior closer Stephen Villines entered in the eighth with a runner on second base. He recorded a five-out, 32-pitch save to preserve a Kansas win.

The save was the 31st of Villines’ career, tying the Kansas all-time career mark set by Don Czyz.

“Czyz was the national closer of the year his senior year, and one of the greatest players to ever put on a Jayhawk uniform,” Price said. “He’s (Villines) is in really good company.”

“The legend of Don and (Paul) Smyth, they’re all great guys up there,” Villines added. “To even be considered with those guys is a huge honor.”

Kansas will play Texas in a rubber match at 1 p.m. today.

UT 000 000 001 — 1 7 1

KU 000 101 00x — 2 9 0

W — Taylor Turski (2-2). L — Morgan Cooper (3-2). S — Stephen Villines (5).

2B — Michael Cantu, Kody Clemens, UT. 3B — Jaxx Groshans, KU.

KU Highlights — Brett Vosik 2-for-3, RBI; Jaxx Groshans 2-for-4, run; Taylor Turski 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 8 K.

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