|Updated: 5/01/2012 9:04 pm
||Published: 5/01/2012 8:51 pm
LITTLE ROCK, AR - Kansas (18-27) scored six runs in the top of the eighth, three of which were unearned, on its way to a 16-12 victory over the UALR baseball team (22-22) at Gary Hogan Field on Tuesday night. UALR senior Nick Rountree totaled six RBI and hit two homers to bring the team’s total to 52 and establish a new school record for home runs in a season.
UALR rallied from an early 5-0 deficit to take a 7-5 lead in the bottom of the fifth, but the Jayhawks plated four runs in the sixth to retake the lead for good. The Trojans pushed across two runs in the bottom of the seventh to make it a one-run ballgame, 10-9, but Alex DeLeon and Michael Suiter each hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning to put the game out of reach.
Both teams banged out 17 hits in the game, with Jordan Dreiling pacing the Jayhawks with a 4-for-6, three-RBI performance. DeLeon went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and four RBI, while Suiter drove in a team-high five runs off a 2-for-5 day at the plate.
Rountree went 4-for-6 with three runs scored and six RBI in the loss. The Enid, Okla.-native hit a pair of two-run homers to bring his season total to nine, and added a two-run double in the bottom of the eighth. Senior Sean Bignall and junior John Clark added a pair of three hit performances in the losing effort, with Bignall scoring three runs while picking up his 13th double of the year.
The Jayhawks jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the first as KU’s first three batters reached base off UALR starter Austin Pfeiffer on a pair of walks and a single. Kansas got on the board as a throwing error with the bases loaded allowed Dakota Smith to score from third, and Dreiling made it a 3-0 contest with a two-run single to right.
Pfeiffer blanked the Jayhawks in the third and fourth innings, but Kansas extended its lead to 5-0 in the top of the fourth after Connor McKay opened the frame with a leadoff homer to left. Three-straight walks, the last two of which came off reliever Tyler Buckley, set the stage for an RBI groundout by James Stanfield.
Kansas starter Thomas Taylor had little trouble with the Trojans over the first three innings, allowing just one hit while striking out five over three shutout frames. It was a different story for Taylor in the fourth however, as Bignall got the Trojans going with a leadoff double and Rountree followed with his first homer of the day – a two-run shot to left. Junior Chris Burk and sophomore Kaleb Jobe reached base with a single and a double, respectively, and Clark plated both with a two-out, two-run double to right center.
Trailing 5-4, UALR tacked on three more runs in the bottom of the fifth to take its first lead of the game. Sophomore Ben Crumpton reached with a leadoff single and moved into scoring position by stealing second base – his 17th of the year. Kansas turned things over to Jordan Jakubov with the game tied at 5-all, but the 6-4 right-handed reliever opened his appearance by serving up a two-run homer to Rountree to put the Trojans on top, 7-5.
Down by two, Kansas rallied for four runs in the top of the sixth to take a 9-7 lead it would never relinquish. Five of KU’s first six hitters reached base to start the inning, with a bases-loaded RBI single from Dreiling chasing junior Marshal Hamrick from the game. Kansas tied things up at 7-all as Chris Manship drew a bases-loaded walk from freshman Matt Brown, and took a 9-7 lead off a two-out, two-run single by Suiter. A run-scoring single by DeLeon in the top of the seventh gave KU a 10-7 lead, but the Trojans pushed across two runs in the bottom half to draw within a run, 10-9. Jobe plated the first run with a RBI base knock to right, and the Trojans tacked on another run off a RBI groundout by sophomore Bryson Thionnet.
Leading by a run, the Jayhawks erupted for six runs in the eighth to build a 16-9 edge. Sophomore Andrew Hohn came on to pitch at the start of the inning and surrendered back-to-back singles before giving up a three-run homer to Suiter. With a runner on first and no outs, junior Ethan Schlechte took the mound and retired the first two batters he faced with a strikeout and a fly ball to right. UALR appeared to be on its way out of the inning as Schlechte got a ground ball to short from Stanfield, but a fielding error extended the inning and DeLeon followed with a three-run blast to left center.
Facing a seven-run deficit, the Trojans hit three doubles in the bottom of the eighth as part of a three-run rally. Rountree plated Crumpton and Bignall with a two-run double to center, and junior Myles Parma followed with a RBI double to left center. But KU’s Tanner Poppe retired five of the next six batters he faced, including a perfect 1-2-3 inning in the ninth, to finish off the win. Poppe worked the final 3.0 innings for the Jayhawks to record his fifth save of the year, despite allowing seven hits and five runs (four earned) to the Trojans.
Jakubov picked up the win in relief to improve to 1-1 on the year after limiting the Trojans to two hits and a run over 2.0 frames. Hamrick (0-2) was saddled with the loss after allowing two hits and four runs in 0.2 innings of work.
UALR returns to action this weekend (May 4-6) when it travels to Monroe, La. for a three-game set with ULM.