BOCA CHICA, D.R. – Sophomore designated hitter Connor McKay collected two hits and scored two runs, including the winning run on a passed ball in the top of the ninth as Kansas rallied to beat the Kansas City Royals Dominican Academy, 6-5, in the Jayhawks’ first game during their eight-day tour of the Dominican Republic at Art Stewart Field Sunday morning.
Kansas also used a seven-run seventh inning in its afternoon game, an 8-4 triumph over Yuli Poso.
In the first game, the Jayhawks scored six runs in the final two innings to erase a 5-0 deficit, which included a five-run eighth in which KU sent 10 men to the plate.
McKay, who went hitless in his first three at bats, started the eighth inning rally with a one-out triple to left-center and came around to score KU’s first run. McKay’s triple, KU’s first extra base knock of the game, was the first of six-straight Jayhawk hits in the inning. Senior Jordan Dreiling’s single through the left side of the infield tied the score at five.
In the ninth inning, McKay started things once again with a bunt single. Then after a walk, a fielder’s choice, he scored the winning run on a passed ball.
After the Royals scored five runs in four innings against KU starter Wes Benjamin, the Jayhawk bullpen slammed the door. The combination of Drew Morovick, Frank Duncan and Jordan Piché managed to hold the Royals scoreless on three hits over the final five innings. Duncan picked up the win, pitching two innings of relief, while Piché earned his first save in a Jayhawk uniform.
Sophomore outfielder Dakota Smith led the offense with three hits, while Dreiling, McKay and Protacio each chipped in a pair.
Freshman Marcus Wheeler was the hitting star of the second game, collecting doubles in back-to-back at bats in the seven-run inning. Junior outfielder Tom Hougland went 3-for-4 in the game with two singles and a triple, while Nate Arnold added a pair of hits.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Hayden Edwards started the game for Kansas and pitched 4 1/3 solid innings, while sophomore Colin Toalson recorded the win in relief.
Later Sunday afternoon, Kansas players held a clinic for local youth players at a park in San Pedro. Jayhawk players held three different stations with players working with the kids on infield drills, outfield drills and pitching drills.
Following the drills, the Jayhawk players handed out baseballs (pelotas) to the nearly 500 kids in attendance, while KU t-shirts were also handed out. In addition to what was donated at the field, KU is also providing gloves, caps and bats to several youth teams in the impoverished area.
The Jayhawks will return to action on Monday when they face the Royals Dominican Academy again at 8:30 a.m. CT, before visiting an orphanage in Sabana Perdida. The team will again meet with the kids and hand out gear, including shirts, hats and coloring books.
Fans can follow the team with daily updates on KUAthletics.com, which will also feature a link to Coach Price’s blog that will appear on CollegeBaseballInsider.com during the trip. All six games against the major league organizations will be available on GameTracker also on KUAthletics.com.
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