LUBBOCK, Texas – A four-run sixth inning by No. 4 Texas Tech was too much to overcome, as the Kansas baseball team fell in the series opener, 10-6, Thursday night at Rip Griffin Park.
The Red Raiders’ (40-13, 14-8 Big 12) Tanner Gardner drove in four of their runs off a pair of home runs and a double, including a two-run bomb in that four-run sixth inning. Kansas sophomore reliever Zack Leban (3-3) gave up one of those home runs, as part of an outing that spanned six batters.
“They beat our pitching up tonight,” head coach Ritch Price said. “I will tip my cap to them, that is the best offensive team we faced all year. Their hitters were better than our pitching.”
Leban recorded the final out in the fifth inning, before giving up four runs off four hits and a walk in the sixth, without recording an out. Those four runs erased a 6-4 Kansas (29-24, 11-11 Big 12) lead after the Jayhawks rallied for a three-spot in the top of the frame.
Sophomore third baseman David Kyriacou led off the six-inning rally for KU with a double on the first pitch he saw from TTU reliever Caleb Killian (5-0). Junior catcher Tanner Gragg and freshman second baseman James Cosentino followed with RBI-singles before junior shortstop Matt McLaughlin drove a deep fly ball to left center for the sacrifice fly.
That three-spot in the top of the sixth for Kansas came after Texas Tech took the 4-3 lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. KU sophomore starter Jackson Goddard surrendered a four-pitch walk before a single and Gardner’s double followed to tie it up, 3-3. Then TTU third baseman Josh Jung hit the sacrifice fly to regain the Red Raiders the lead.
The Jayhawks totaled 10 hits on the night with seven of those coming off the Big 12’s ERA and wins leader in TTU’s starting ace Steven Gingery. Those seven knocks were the most Gingery has given up all season while the three runs Kansas scored were just the third time all year he has given up three or more in a game.
“That is as good as we could have swung the bats against Gingery,” Price said. “That is all I could have hoped for tonight – we had two big innings.”
Kyriacou (2-for-4) and Gragg (3-for-4) each posted multi-hit efforts while five other Jayhawks contributed in the hit column. Kyriacou finished the day with two doubles and two runs scored while Gragg connected for two singles, a double, and a career-best three RBIs.