LAWRENCE, Kan. –
Junior right fielder Connor McKay launched his seventh home run of the season in the seventh inning to score the lone run for the Jayhawks, as the Kansas baseball team fell to TCU, 3-1, Saturday afternoon in game one of a doubleheader at Hoglund Ballpark.
For the second time in conference play, KU (21-15, 5-6 Big 12) failed to record a base knock the first time through the batting order as TCU (22-12, 7-4 Big 12) starter Preston Morrison (4-3) had a no-hitter heading into the fifth inning until junior third baseman Ryan Pidhaichuk smoked a double down the left field line to break it up.
Kansas managed just one run off four hits in support of junior right-handed starter Robert Kahana (2-5), who tossed nine innings for his second complete game of the season. The hurler allowed three runs off nine hits in the loss.
TCU jumped out to an early lead in the third after a four-hit inning. Shortstop Keaton Jones singled through the left side before taking second on the sacrifice bunt. Catcher Kyle Bacak followed with the RBI-single down the left field line, before third baseman Derek Odell followed with his own base knock, a double down the line. Left fielder Boomer White recorded his own RBI-single to stretch the Horned Frog lead to two, 2-0.
The Frogs tacked on another run in the fifth inning thanks to a one-out double. Designated hitter Kevin Cron sent one to the left center gap to put himself into scoring position with less than two outs. Cron advanced to third on a Kahana pitch in the dirt, before scoring on another wild pitch to increase TCU’s lead, 3-0.
Kansas had its first opportunity to put a run up on the board after Pidhaichuk broke up Morrison’s no-hitter in the top half of the fifth. Faced with a 0-1 count, Pidhaichuk smoked a fastball down the left field line for the standup double. He advanced to third on a groundout by senior centerfielder Tucker Tharp, but was left stranded at third after a ground out ended the threat.
However, with one swing of the bat, the Jayhawks notched their first run of the game in the seventh inning. McKay walked to the dish with two outs, yet to record a hit on the day. On the first pitch he saw, he smoked one halfway up the trees in left field for his seventh home run and 36th RBI of the season, cutting into TCU’s lead, 3-1.
Kansas had another prime opportunity to tack on some runs in the eighth inning. Freshman designated hitter Michael Tinsley led off the frame with a single through the right side before stealing second with two outs. However, junior shortstop Justin Protacio was unable to connect cleanly with the fastball, grounding out and ending the scoring opportunity for the Jayhawks.
Down to their final at bat, Kansas managed to load the bases in the ninth inning, forcing the Horned Frogs to make a move to their bullpen and bring in closer Riley Ferrell. Tharp had the chance to be the hero with two outs and the bases loaded. He battled to a full count, before swinging through on a 98 MPH fastball high in the zone, ending the chances at a KU comeback.
Game two of Saturday’s doubleheader is slated for a 6:15 p.m. start. Senior right hander Frank Duncan will get the nod for Kansas, while James Young will start for TCU.