OMAHA, Neb. – Three pitchers combined to throw a four-hit shutout, as the Kansas baseball team won its first mid-week game of the season against Creighton, 11-0, at TD Ameritrade Park on a cold, windy Wednesday evening.
The Jayhawks (17-8) combined for 16 hits on the night, tying the stadium record for most hits in a game by any team in TD Ameritrade Park history, including the College World Series. In addition, Kansas recorded its third shutout on the season and the first for Creighton (11-7-1) since May 4, 2013, when the Bluejays were blanked 6-0 at Illinois State.
“That was a really cold night to have that kind of offensive performance,” head coach Ritch Price said. “I thought our guys did a really good job. They laid off the ball out of the zone and did a good job of taking the fastball away. I was really pleased with the offensive performance.”
Junior right hander Drew Morovick (5-1) started on the bump for Kansas tossing five and two-thirds innings. He allowed just three hits and four walks, while striking out two in the victory. Freshman righty Stephen Villines tossed two and one-third scoreless innings, surrendering just one hit and recording two strikeouts. Junior hurler Dakota Smith closed out the ninth in 13 pitches, striking out one of the three batters he faced.
“The game plan was to attack them with the fastball,” Morovick said. “When you have (11) runs on the board and sixteen hits behind you, it’s really easy to pitch.”
Four Jayhawks compiled multi-hit efforts with senior centerfielder Tucker Tharp and Smith paving the way with 3-for-5 performances at the plate. Junior left fielder Michael Suiter (2-for-5), sophomore second baseman Colby Wright (2-for-5) and junior third baseman Aaron Hernandez (2-for-3) joined in with two hits apiece.
“We needed to come up here and get a stop,” Price said. “It feels really good to come in and play well and dominate the ball game.”
Kansas broke open the scoring first with a three-run second inning. Smith led off the frame with a single through the left side, before stealing second. Tharp followed suit with a single of his own to left field, moving Smith to third. Junior first baseman Blair Beck then drove one through the box, giving Kansas the lead at 1-0.
Then with no outs and runners at first and second, senior catcher Ka’iana Eldredge laid down a perfectly placed sacrifice bunt, moving the runners into scoring position for Hernandez. Even the 35 MPH winds couldn’t keep his bat cool as he laced a double down the left field line, clearing the bases for two RBIs and extending the KU lead to 3-0.
The Jayhawks tacked on another run in the fifth inning after two-straight singles by Wright and Suiter led off the frame. Junior right fielder Connor McKay then placed a sacrifice bunt down the third base line to advance Wright and Suiter to second and third with one out. Smith smoked one to CU shortstop Ryan Fitzgerald for the RBI ground out, increasing KU’s lead to four runs, 4-0.
KU added seven more insurance runs in the final two frames to put the game out of reach, 11-0. Eldredge and Suiter each had two-RBI singles in Kansas’ five-run eighth, and pinch hitters freshman Michael Tinsley and sophomore Jacob Boylan each picked up an RBI of their own in the ninth.
The Jayhawks return home Friday, March 28 to open a three game series against conference foe Oklahoma.
“The reason you come to KU is to play in the Big 12, so you get to line up with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State and Texas and the rest of the national powers,” Price said. “That’s the great thing about our league—every weekend is a huge challenge. If we can win this series at home, we’re going put ourselves in really good shape.”
First pitch for Fridays contest is slated for 6 p.m.