LAWRENCE, Kan. – The West Virginia baseball team was never able to overcome an early three-run deficit and fell 5-2 to Kansas on Saturday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark.
West Virginia (27-19, 9-10 Big 12) dropped the season series, registering just six hits and no errors. Kansas (32-21, 14-9 Big 12) won its third-straight conference series and ninth Big 12 game in a row with nine hits and one error.
"We gave them six or seven free passes, we walked them and we hit them," coach Randy Mazey says. "When they got guys on base they got extra-base hits, when we got guys on base we hit into double plays. You're never going to win that way. We've been talking about the benefit of extra-base hits for the last month and they've gotten them so far this weekend and we haven't."
After leading off the bottom of the second with an infield single, Kansas’ Dakota Smith came around to score on an RBI ground out to shortstop by Ka’iana Eldredge, putting the Jayhawks ahead 1-0.
Smith then drove in two runs of his own in the bottom of the third with a two-out double down the left field line, extending the Kansas lead to 3-0. Justin Protacio and Michael Suiter both scored after reaching on a walk and single, respectively.
West Virginia had runners on the corners with no outs in the top of the fourth, but only cut the deficit to 3-1 as senior left fielder Jacob Rice
grounded into a double play. Junior second baseman Billy Fleming
scored after leading off the frame with a double to left center field.
The Kansas lead went back to three at 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth on Smith’s third RBI of the game. The two-out single through the left side scored Aaron Hernandez.
Back-to-back doubles by WVU junior catcher Cam O’Brien and freshman designated hitter Jackson Cramer
brought the score to 4-2. Cramer’s shot to right center field scored O’Brien from second base.
The lead went back to three in the bottom of the seventh as senior right-hander Pascal Paul
entered the game in relief for WVU. Paul walked the first batter to load the bases and then walked Tucker Tharp, scoring Michael Suiter from third base.
WVU sophomore left-hander Ross Vance
(3-2) was issued his second-straight loss, giving up five runs on seven hits in 6.1 innings with five strikeouts and four walks.
Robert Kahana (4-5) picked up the win for the Jayhawks, allowing two runs on six hits in 6.1 innings with one strikeout.
Smith finished 3-for-3 with one run, one double and three RBIs to lead Kansas at the plate. Suiter had three hits and scored two runs.
West Virginia returns to action against Kansas tomorrow at 1 p.m. The game can be viewed on ESPN3.com, while the radio broadcast will be on select affiliates of the Mountaineer Sports Network from IMG College.