Kansas baseball fighting for postseason life at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark
Nothing sharpens an athlete's focus in quite the same manner as a game with sudden-death implications. Even though the Big 12 tournament is a double-elimination format, a loss for Kansas in its first-round game vs. TCU would have dealt a serious blow to the Jayhawks' NCAA tournament chances. It would have extended the Jayhawks' losing streak to five games.
Instead, the Jayhawks defeated the nation's No. 6 team, 7-3, at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark to advance to a game tonight against Texas, first pitch scheduled for 7:30.
Kansas shortstop Matt McLaughlin talked about the edge a team fighting for its postseason life brings into a game like the one the Jayhawks played Wednesday night.
"I think the biggest thing right now is just understanding your window," McLaughlin said. "If you are a TCU or Texas Tech, you are looking to be a national seed, and the motivation to go out and win some games isn’t the same as it is for a team like us. We believe if we go out and win two or three games, we will put ourselves in a position to make a regional."
Oklahoma State upset Texas Tech, 3-0, earlier Tuesday.
A win tonight for Kansas would give another boost to the chances of landing an at-large berth in the NCAA tournament, in event that the Jayhawks don't win the Big 12 tournament title. KU entered the tourney ranked No. 59 in the nation, which put it on the wrong side of the bubble. The TCU upset, bumped KU's estimated RPI to 53, according to respected RPI estimator Warrennolan.com. Oklahoma State moved up eight spots to No. 49.
TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle was extremely complimentary of KU's starting pitcher Tuesday, left-hander Taylor Turski.
"He's a really good pitcher," Schlossnagle said.
Left-hander Blake Weiman was credited with the win in relief and Stephen Villines pitched a scoreless ninth.
"With those two guys Weiman and Villines down there, there was no doubt we were going to have to have a lead going in late."
Kansas head coach Ritch Price called it "a great win for our program against one of the best teams in America. I am very proud of the way we competed and how we grinded the victory out."
The Jayhawks (30-26) likely need one or two more victories to garner an at-large bid.
Sophomore Jackson Goddard is on the mound tonight for Kansas. He started against the Longhorns on April 2 at Hoglund Ballpark and was not involved in the decision in KU's 5-4 victory. Goddard lasted five innings, all three hits and six walks and hit a batter. The team's best pitching prospect, Goddard is 5-3 with a 4.24 ERA with 28 walks and 69 strikeouts in 74-1/3 innings this season.