A six-run seventh inning Friday lifted Kansas to a 10-4 season-opening victory over BYU baseball at Peoria Stadium.
The wheels came unglued that inning as KU batted around three BYU pitchers, breaking a four-all deadlock in a game the Cougars twice led.
Jayhawk right fielder Connor McKay knocked a payoff pitch on full count over the left field fence for a pair of unearned runs to tie the score 4-4 in the fifth. McKay also laced a two-run, one-out double the same direction to start the scoring in the seventh.
“We gave up six outs in the fifth inning,” BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. “You can’t do that against a good team of mature hitters. They are going to make you pay. We didn’t get the job done. We had a couple of bad plays on defense and it got away from us, but those are the plays you need to make. We need to come out ready. We preach ‘play catch’ and today we didn’t play catch. It was a couple frustrating innings for us. We lost our mental edge in the fifth and seventh innings.”
BYU had leads of 1-0 and 3-2 in the first and fourth innings, respectively, but couldn’t rally another time or quiet KU’s bats. The key to that first inning was Trace Hansen working a full count base on balls, fouling off three pitches after falling behind 2-1. With Hansen on second and one out, Kelton Caldwell grounded out up the middle, scoring Lund from third after he led off the inning with a first-pitch single.
JC Snyder snagged the first pitch bunt of Tommy Mirabelli and nipped him first for a sacrifice instead of having two Jayhawks on base. Then, Desmond Poulson registered a called strike out to close the inning.
BYU designated hitter Bret Lopez drew a one-out walk and advanced to third where he was stranded after a two-base throwing error by eventual winning pitcher Wes Benjamin in the second.
Kansas took a 2-1 lead in the second when Kai Eldredge knocked a one-run double past Lund playing shallow center field. Eldredge scored on Joven Afenir’s bloop single to left field.
Transfer Dallen Reber got his first hit as a Cougar with a lead-off single in the fourth. Reber went to second on Benjamin’s balk and Jarrett Jarvis' full-count single to left field advanced him to third. Then, Lopez belted southpaw Benjamin's first offering for a two-run gap double, giving BYU a 3-2 lead.
With two on and two out, Poulson threw seven pitches to Afenir before getting him to end the fifth flying out to Reber in left. Poulson pitched five innings, leaving the score tied 4-4, before BYU shuttled five more pitchers on the mound.
The Cougars, 0-1, and Jayhawks meet again in a Saturday doubleheader at the Mariner-Padre Peoria Stadium starting at 11 a.m. MST.
Ralph R. Zobell has worked for BYU Athletic Media Relations in various capacities for over 30 years. You can view his bio at http://byucougars.com/staff/athletics/ralph-zobell or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.