Jayhawk baseball powers past Dartmouth

COURTESY: KU Sports Information

LAWRENCE, Kan. – Nine players combined for a season-high 19 hits and 13 RBIs, as the Kansas baseball team topped Dartmouth, 13-5, Friday evening at Hoglund Ballpark.

Six different Jayhawks tallied multiple-hit efforts with junior right fielder Connor McKay boasting a 3-for-5 performance at the plate, including a double, home run, four RBIs and a run scored. Sophomore second baseman Colby Wright (3-for-5), junior designated hitter Dakota Smith (3-for-5) and junior third baseman Aaron Hernandez (3-for-4) also had three hits apiece and at least two runs scored, with Wright scoring three times.

Junior shortstop Justin Protacio and junior left fielder Michael Suiter round out the last two KU players with multiple hits on the night. Protacio batted 2-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored, while Suiter hit 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored.

Kansas (15-7, 2-1 Big 12) called to its ace, junior left hander Wes Benjamin (4-0), to start on the bump in game one of the three-game series against the Big Green (2-8, 0-0 IVY). The hurler tossed five innings, giving up nine hits, four runs and two walks, while striking out three in the victory. Dartmouth threw righty Michael Danielak (0-2), who lasted six innings and gave up eight runs off of 12 hits and a walk.

Dartmouth jumped out to an early two-run lead in the first inning, after hitting three doubles in the top half of the frame. Kansas answered right back with a two-run inning of its own, thanks to a two-out two-run bomb by McKay, his fifth of the season, to tie the game up after one, 2-2.

The Big Green added a run in the third after a leadoff double by right fielder Jeff Keller and a single by third baseman Nick Lombardi to re-take the lead, 3-2, their last lead of the night.

Then the bats woke up for the Jayhawks in the fourth inning, where KU put up a six-spot on the scoreboard. Junior first baseman Blair Beck led off the frame with a double to left center before scoring on a double down the left field line by Hernandez. Protacio then laced one through the right side to score Hernandez, before back-to-back singles by Wright and Suiter loaded the bases.

Then with two outs and the bases loaded, Smith smoked a three-run triple off the left field wall to break the game open, 7-3. Senior centerfielder Tucker Tharp followed with a single to drive in Smith from third and give KU the five-run advantage heading into the fifth, 8-3.

Kansas tacked on five more runs in the eighth after the Jayhawks opened the inning with six-straight base hits. Hernandez led off with a triple, followed by back-to-back singles by Protacio and Wright. Then Suiter, McKay and Smith chimed in with three-straight doubles, before Tharp ended the streak with a pop-out to second baseman Thomas Roulis.

With two outs, junior first baseman Ryan Pidhaichuk added one more hit to the inning, an RBI single to left field, to increase KU’s run total to 13, the second-highest of the season, and tally the 19th hit on the night for the Jayhawks.

Game two of the series is scheduled for Saturday, March 22, with first pitch at 1 p.m.

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