LAWRENCE, Kansas – The Northwestern State baseball team had a much better day at the plate Saturday in the second game of a three-game series at Big 12 Conference member Kansas.
The same did not hold true for the Demons bullpen.
The homestanding Jayhawks used a seven-run sixth inning to erase a late Northwestern State lead and clinch the series with an 11-7 victory at Hoglund Ballpark.
“I thought we played loose and with much more energy today,” first-year head coach Bobby Barbier said. “The one inning got away from us, but I was encouraged with the at-bats up and down the lineup.”
The Demons (3-6) took an early lead when Caleb Ricca led off the game with a triple and later scored on a wild pitch.
Even after the Jayhawks (4-6) touched up NSU starter John Carter Sanner for three first-inning runs, the Demons responded.
Kwan Adkins laced a two-run double down the right field line to tie the game in the second and Ricca drove him home six pitches later to regain the lead for Northwestern State.
Buoyed by that early offense, Sanner settled in and kept the Jayhawks scoreless until the fifth, retiring nine in a row between the seond and fourth innings.
After tagging Kansas starter Jeider Rincon for four runs in 1 1-3 innings, the Demons were unable to muster much against Kansas reliever Jackson Goddard (1-0), who worked around four hits to allow only a fifth-inning run in his 4 2-3 innings of relief.
Down by a run, the Jayhawks took advantage of a bout of wildness from Demons reliever Dan Hlad (0-1).
Hlad hit John Remick with one out in the sixth. After a one-out double put runners on second and third, Hlad intentionally walked Matt McLaughlin to load the bases.
Barbier called on Devin Bear to relieve Hlad and face left-handed hitting Kaimana Souza-Paaluhi. The Jayhawks countered by bringing in pinch-hitter Marcus Wheeler, who clared the bases with a double to give Kansas a lead it would not relinquish.
Three batters later, Rudy Karre capped the scoring in the inning with a three-run home run.
“We didn’t execute well out of the bullpen that inning,” Barbier said. “When you play good teams, they make you pay for mistakes, but those are the same guys who pitched really well the first weekend. It just wasn’t their day.”
The Demons cut into the lead in the eighth on a David Fry RBI single and a Matthew Alford sacrifice fly before Stephen Villines got the final five outs of the game.
Ricca enjoyed his best day at the plate as the freshman went 3-for-4 with a triple and an RBI. Fry (2-for-5) and Alford (2-for-4) added multi-hit games for NSU, which rapped out 10 hits.
“We gave better at-bats throughout the lineup,” Barbier said. “After we got the starter out in the second, they brought in a really good arm that we did a good job fighting with.”
The series concludes Sunday with a 1 p.m. first pitch. Senior right-hander Evan Tidwell (1-1, 10.38) takes the mound for the Demons while Kansas will counter with left-hander Taylor Turski (0-1, 3.00). The game will be televised on ESPN3.
Kansas 11, Northwestern State 7
NSU 130 010 020 – 7 10 1
Kansas 300 017 00x – 11 10 2
W – Jackson Goddard (1-0). L – Dan Hlad (0-1). 2B – NSU, David Fry, Kwan Adkins. KU, Marcus Wheeler, Devin Foyle, Owen Taylor. 3B – NSU, Caleb Ricca. HR – KU, Rudy Karre (1). Highlights: NSU, Ricca 3-4, 3B, RBI; Fry 2-5, 2B, RBI; Matthew Alford 2-4, RBI. KU, Wheeler 2B, 3 RBIs; Foyle 2-5, 2B, 2 RBIs; Karre HR, 3 RBIs; Taylor 3-4, 2B.
Records: Northwestern State 3-6, Kansas 4-6.