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Friday, April 6, 2018

KU baseball pitching staff unable to slow down No. 5 Texas Tech in loss

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Kansas baseball coach Ritch Price knew his team was going to have its hands full this weekend against No. 5 Texas Tech.

Price said that in order for his team to have a chance to set the tone and win the first game of a three-game series, starter Tyler Davis was going to need be in control of all of his pitches on the mound.

But the Texas Tech offense proved to be too lethal.

An offensive onslaught by the Red Raiders resulted in a 15-6 loss for the Jayhawks on Friday at Hoglund Ballpark. Texas Tech (25-6, 4-3 in Big 12) produced 15 hits, including two home runs.

“They took us apart,” Price said. “Obviously they’re one of the better offensive clubs not only in our conference, but also in America. They’re experienced and they’re explosive one through nine.”

Davis (0-2), who usually serves as a reliever for KU, allowed seven runs and eight hits in three innings. He’s been tasked with filling the regular Friday starter role while Jackson Goddard works his way back from an undisclosed injury.

“Tyler obviously had to be able to mix all three of his pitches for strikes, and he wasn’t able to do that,” Price said. “Still, I want to pay him a really good compliment. We’re asking him to do something that doesn’t fit his skillset as good as when he comes out of the bullpen.”

KU is 2-2 in weekend games Davis has pitched in since Goddard’s injury.

“We literally have no other alternatives, and he’s helped us win two of the last three weekends … that’s all I can ask for,” Price said. “Go out there and grind and compete and try to get us to the fifth, six inning. Unfortunately, today he wasn’t able to do that.”

Davis was removed in the fourth inning after Texas Tech batters Cody Farhat and Gabe Holt reached base with no outs.

“He got behind in the count. From the start of the game, he was behind in the count,” Price said of his reason for removing Davis. “Even half the (Texas Tech) outs were line drives that were hit at somebody. They were hit right on the button.”

Freshman reliever Jonah Ulane relieved Davis in the inning, but the Red Raiders continued to produce offensively. Texas Tech ultimately scored nine runs on six hits in the frame.

“It was a tough day to pitch, and there are no excuses for that,” Price said. “You go out and try to grind through it.”

Offensively, there were some positives for KU (17-12, 2-5 in Big 12). The Jayhawks recorded nine hits and drew five walks against the Red Raiders’ pitching staff, which ranks first in the Big 12.

Designated hitter Brett Vosik gave the Jayhawks their only lead with an RBI single in the first. Pinch hitter Luke Bakula also delivered a two-run double in the ninth, which knocked Texas Tech reliever Connor Queen out of the game with two outs.

Price said he is hoping to see his team carry the offensive production over into the remaining games of the series.

“We’re two of the better offensive teams in the league,” Price said. “And that’s the one thing we’ve continued to do, is swing the bats well.”

KU will return to Hoglund Ballpark against Texas Tech on Saturday. First pitch is scheduled for 2 p.m.

Texas Tech 041 900 100 — 15 15 0

Kansas 100 100 202 — 6 9 0

W—Davis Martin (5-2). L—Davis (0-2).

2B—Holt, TTU; Josh Jung, TTU; Grant Little, TTU; Cameron Warren, TTU; Jaxx Groshans, KU; Bakula, KU. HR—Holt, TTU; Zach Rheams, TTU.

KU highlights—Conner VanCleave, 3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 1 K; James Cosentino, 1 for 3, run, RBI; Bakula, 1 for 1, 2 RBI, Vosik, 1 for 4, run, walk, RBI; Owen Taylor, 1 for 3, run, walk, RBI.

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