Kansas athletics

Kansas beat West Virginia 5-2 on Saturday for its second win of the series and eighth consecutive Big 12 victory overall.


LAWRENCE, Kan. — Clean-up hitter Dakota Smith’s knocked in three runs on two-out hits and scored another as Kansas beat West Virginia 5-2 to clinch the weekend series.

West Virginia (27-19, 9-10 Big 12), after failing to hold a late lead in Friday night’s opener, never led Saturday afternoon as starter Robert Kahana pitched 6 1/3 strong innings and Stephen Villines notched his seventh save to carry the Jayhawks (32-21, 14-9) to their eighth consecutive conference victory.

After losing back-to-back games for the first time since April 12-13, the Mountaineers will try to avoid the sweep Sunday.

Ross Vance (3-2) surrendered five earned runs in 6 1/3 inning, allowing seven hits—three of those to Smith—and four walks.

A leadoff infield single by Smith and a walk landed Vance in trouble in the second. After Friday night’s home-run hero Tucker Tharp bunted the runners over, Ka’iana Eldredge’s groundout to short put Kansas up 1-0.

The gap widened to 3-0 in the third when Smith ripped a letter-high fastball into the left-field corner for a two-run, two-out double.

West Virginia regained one of those runs in the fourth, when Jacob Rice grounded into a double play—one of three that plagued the Mountaineers—with runners on the corners.

Smith countered with a two-out RBI single in the fifth to make it 4-1.

“I think the last three weeks we have been playing really well,” Smith said. “I think we have just been getting hotter and hotter and it has carried over to today. It has been a lot of fun.”

After hitting three WVU batters in the first two innings, Kahana steadied himself to deliver a quality start. He allowed six hits, including back-to-back doubles by Cam O’Brien and Jackson Cramer in the seventh, when WVU closed to within 4-2. But Jayhawks reliever Drew Morovick fanned Michael Constantini and walked Taylor Munden before ending the threat on Bobby Boyd’s line-out to second base.

“I think we have reached that point in our season where we are peaking at the right time,” said Kansas coach Ritch Price. “It seems like we have played really good baseball the last four weeks and it all starts with good starting pitching. (Kahana) was a little shaky with his command early in the game, but we turned three double plays behind him. I thought that set the tone and allowed him to settle in.”

Control problems haunted WVU in the bottom of the seventh, leading to a Kansas insurance run. After Michael Suiter’s one-out single, Ross walked Smith and was replaced by Pascal Paul, who promptly walked the next two batters on only nine pitches to force home a run.

The Mountaineers finished with seven hits, only the second time in the last 12 games they failed to reach double digits.

Game 3 is scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday.

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  • John

    Need to salvage this last game; win at MD; and take at least one at TTU. I believe that will be enough to get in the tournament field.

  • Aaron

    Ok, salvage the series on a high note. If you're going to play in the NCAA's, you have to win on the road.

    On that note, I can't help but note the similarities between the basketball and baseball programs. Both had a spell in the early part of the season in which they hit a rough patch which was followed by a hot streak that had national pundits placing them on the NCAA tourney bubble despite being middle of the pack league teams. While I hope the baseball finishes stronger than the basketball team does, I find it odd that a few posters on here praise the work of Randy Mazey, who has done a very good job with his team, yet the vilify Bob Huggins.

    I wonder why that is.

    • John

      Come on Aaron. Really? Nobody expected anything from the baseball program. It had been in decline for years and was going to a difficult conference known for its baseball. In 2 years, Coach Mazey has taken a group of guys that have over-achieved and has made great strides and were competitive their very first year and have improved this year.

      Yes, I also thought of the comparisons between baseball and basketball. You could throw football in there too as they had what appeared to be 2 winnable games to get to 6-6 and go to a bowl. We know how that ended up.

      I played at WVU and have the seen the progress made between where they were and where they are now. They were not competitive in 2012 and did not score a run at Myrtle Beach that year vs. sweeping 3 games at the same venue in 2014.

      I like Huggins and he is an excellent coach. I never thought this past year's squad was NCAA material. But, there is a perception the program is in decline and 2014/15 is a pivotal year. Perception can become reality.

    • Todd

      This baseball team is a bunch of overachievers who play hard every game. They are a fun team to watch as the play with a lot of enthusiasm. Stop being so negative and get behind this baseball team. We are very lucky to have Coach Mazey.

    • Say What

      Aaron, in case you haven't noticed, WVU's baseball team is on the climb in recent years, while the round ball team is on the decline. Hence the hatred towards Huggs. If the baseball team sucked last year and this year, it would be par for the course.

  • ViennaGuy

    A tough loss, no question. Let's take it to them on Sunday!