McKay Connor hit his second home run of the series Monday to give Kansas a 10-1 victory and a four-game series sweep over BYU.
Kansas, 4-0, took leads of 1-0 in the sixth and 2-0 in the seventh when it pushed across runners from second base. Then, Connor belted a two-run homer in the eighth to give the Jayhawks a 4-0 lead.
The Cougars loaded the bases in the eighth when shortstop Hayden Nielsen drew a lead-off walk and Brennon Lund singled up the middle to mark his fourth consecutive game with a hit as starter Drew Morovick gave way to ace reliever Jordan Piche’. Brock Whitney worked a full count walk and then Kelton Caldwell singled to score Nielsen, closing the gap to 4-1.
Other than that, the Cougars didn’t generate much offense, with their best threat coming in the sixth frame when Whitney was hit by a pitch and Caldwell stroked a two-out double to right field, but both were stranded.
Cougar junior Jeff Barker threw 109 pitches before surrendering the mound to freshman southpaw Hayden Parker in the eighth after striking out six Jayhawks.
"Barker did a great job," BYU coach Mike Littlewood said. "I'm pleased with our starting pitching, that was the bright spot for us in this series. Their pitcher, Drew Morovick, did a nice job today, too."
Barker struck out pairs of Jayhawks in the third and fifth innings. That fifth inning was a test of Cougar mettle as Barker gave up a lead-off walk after being ahead 1-2 in the count. Then, shortstop Nielsen slid right, threw across his body and snuffed out that lead runner at second before Barker registered strikeouts four and five swinging.
A lead-off walk came back to haunt BYU in the sixth, when Kansas advanced its runner on a sacrifice bunt, then scored on a single to left field for a 1-0 lead. Kansas batted around its lineup when it tacked on six runs in the ninth.
"In all four games when it was tight, we weren't able to push runs across when it counted," Littlewood said. "We've got to solve our bullpen problems. I like our team, but it has been disappointing these first games. We've got to get big hits, get on base in the early innings and play fundamentally sound."
After returning home from Arizona, the Cougars, 0-4, fly to Corpus Christi, Texas, to start the Kleberg Bank Classic with a Thursday doubleheader against host Texas A&M Corpus Christi.
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.
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