Trailing by a run in the bottom of the eighth inning Friday, the Kansas baseball team had everything set up for a late-inning comeback against Baylor.
After a bloop double from junior Owen Taylor and a wild pitch, the Jayhawks had a runner on third with no outs and the top of their lineup coming to the plate.
But for the third straight inning, the Jayhawks couldn’t capitalize on runners in scoring position. Baylor reliever Kyle Hill struck out the next three batters and KU suffered a 5-4 loss in the series opener at Hoglund Ballpark.
The Jayhawks (21-21, 8-8 in Big 12) certainly had their opportunities, but failed to take advantage. They hit 2-for-15 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 runners, including eight on second or third base.
Baylor committed four errors and that’s not counting a couple of other unofficial fielding miscues.
“We had the table set to come all the way back and tie it,” KU coach Ritch Price said. “To their credit, their pitchers were better than our hitters today.”
Against Baylor’s bullpen, the Jayhawks struck out eight times in the last three innings.
The Jayhawks loaded the bases in the seventh inning without a hit — an error, walk and hit batsman — but more strikeouts ended the threat.
“The thing I was most disappointed was how bad the at-bats were,” Price said. “Guys were just overswinging, almost like they were swinging at the speed of the pitch. They had no chance.”
Kansas nearly rallied from a 5-1 deficit in the sixth inning. After back-to-back singles from Devin Foyle and Jaxx Groshans, the Jayhawks benefitted from an error before Tanner Gragg hit a RBI single to left and Rudy Karre drove in a run on a fielder’s choice.
With two outs and runners on the corners, James Cosentino hit a fly ball into center field during a 10-pitch at-bat, setting up a sliding catch for Baylor centerfielder Richard Cunningham.
Baylor catcher Shea Langeliers punched the air during Cunningham’s grab and relief pitcher Alex Phillips let out a yell before waiting for his outfielder to meet him by the dugout.
The Bears (26-16, 7-9) jumped ahead against KU left-hander Taylor Turski when Aaron Dodson blasted a three-run home run off of the batter’s eye in dead-center field, more than 400 feet from the batter’s box. It was Dodson’s team-leading seventh homer of the season, only two shy of KU’s season total.
Turski walked three batters in seven innings pitched, and all of them came around to score. That included two walks before Dodson’s homer.
“The three walks that scored killed us,” Price said. “That was the difference in the ball game.”
The Jayhawks are scheduled to continue the series at 2 p.m. today.
Baylor 041 000 000— 5 8 4
Kansas 100 003 000 — 4 7 0
W — Nick Lewis, 5-4. L — Taylor Turski, 2-4. S — Troy Montemayor, 9.
2B — Matt Menard, Josh Bissonette, BU; Devin Foyle, Owen Taylor, KU. 3B — Bissonette, BU. HR — Aaron Dodson, BU.
KU highlights — Foyle, 2-for-5, RBI; Taylor, 2-for-4; Tanner Gragg, 1-for-4, RBI; Turski, 7 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 5 K.