With Nolan Kingham on the mound for Texas, Kansas coach Ritch Price knew his team would have to win a low scoring game.
Entering Friday’s night, Kingham had an earned run average of 0.72.
That’s why the third inning was so crucial.
Kansas scored one run in the inning, but left three runners stranded on base. The Jayhawks allowed two runs in the next inning and never led again in a 5-3 loss at Hoglund Ballpark.
“When you get opportunities against a guy that has an earned-run average of less than one, somebody has to get a two-out RBI to put up a couple more runs,” Price said. “That’s the difference between winning and losing.”
Even though the Jayhawks (10-15, 1-3 Big 12) only had five hits, they still did enough offensively to stay in the game.
After Kacy Clemens hit a home run in the top of the first inning for Texas (19-10, 4-3 Big 12), KU sophomore outfielder Rudy Karre hit a leadoff double and eventually scored a run to tie the game at one.
But the third inning proved costly for the Jayhawks. A misplayed pop fly got the inning started for the Longhorns, who ultimately scored one run in the frame. In the bottom of the third, junior Matt McLaughlin extended his hitting streak to 11 games with an RBI single.
“I’ve been really proud of his development since he got here,” Price said of McLaughlin. “He was a good player when he got here, and he’s elevated his game each and every year he’s been with us.”
The Jayhawks loaded the bases with two outs, but junior first basemen Owen Taylor struck out in three pitches to end the inning.
“I thought it was a really good college baseball game,” Price said. “Obviously we made a couple of mistakes that really hurt us. To his (Kingham) credit, he punched our guy out with the bases loaded and made three great pitches.”
Texas scored two runs in the fourth, and McLaughlin hit a solo homer in the fifth inning to pull Kansas within 4-3, but it that was the last time the Kansas offense was heard from.
“He threw me a first-pitch breaking ball for a ball,” McLaughlin said. “The scouting report is out, that guy is trying to beat me in. I had a pretty good idea that pitch was coming.”
The Jayhawks’ bullpen pitched five innings and only gave up one run, and the defense made plays to keep runs off the board, including a diving catch by Karre in center field that both McLaughlin and Price agreed was the best catch they’d seen all year.
Kansas will look to break its four-game skid in the second game of its weekend series with Texas at 2 p.m. today
“I think we have to walk in with a little more energy,” McLaughlin said. “We’ll be ready to roll.”
UT 101 201 000 — 5 11 1
KU 101 010 000 — 3 5 1
W — Nolan Kingham (4-2) L — Sean Rackoski (3-3)
2B — Karre, Gragg, KU; Jones, Hamilton, UT. HR — McLaughlin, KU; Kacy Clemens, UT.
KU Highlights — Matt McLaughlin 2-for-3, 2RBI, run; Rudy Karre 2-for-4, 2 runs; Blake Weiman 3.2 innings pitched, 1 earned run, 5 hits, 4 strikeouts.