KU baseball falls in series finale vs Dartmouth

LAWRENCE, Kan. – With runners on second and third and one out in the ninth inning, the Kansas baseball team failed to drive in the winning run and fell short to Dartmouth in 10 innings, 3-2, Sunday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark.

A day that started off grim with two inches of snow covering the field at 7 a.m., the Jayhawks (16-8) rallied together and cleared the field for a 10:30 a.m. start time against the Big Green (3-9). Kansas called upon senior right-handed hurler Frank Duncan to battle the conditions and put KU in a position to win. Duncan tossed seven innings, allowing two runs off nine hits and a walk, while striking out seven batters.

Eight different Jayhawks contributed to the team’s 10 hits, with junior third baseman Aaron Hernandez and junior first baseman Blair Beck boasting the only multiple-hit efforts on the day with their 2-for-5 performances at the plate.

Dartmouth relied on freshman righty Mike Concato on the mound through eight innings, as he gave up two runs off nine hits and two walks in 128 pitches. Big Green reliever Duncan Robinson (2-1) tossed two scoreless innings giving up just one hit for the win.

Kansas jumped out to the 1-0 lead in the second inning after senior centerfielder Tucker Tharp reached first on a one-out hit by pitch before stealing second. Beck followed with a single up the middle to score Tharp from second and give KU its first lead of the game, 1-0.

The Big Green rallied back in the top half of the third, after back-to-back singles by centerfielder Nick Ruppert and shortstop Matt Parisi put runners at the corners for second baseman Thomas Roulis, for the RBI fielder’s choice. Dartmouth kept the momentum to take its first lead of the game in the top of the fourth, after a leadoff triple by left fielder Michael Ketchmark set up the sacrifice fly for first baseman Dustin Selzer to give the Big Green a one-run advantage, 2-1.

The Jayhawks answered in the bottom of the fifth with an RBI ground out by sophomore second baseman Colby Wright. Senior catcher Ka’iana Eldredge led off the frame with a single up the middle for his first hit of the series. Hernandez followed with a double down the left field line, moving Eldredge to third. After the foul out by junior shortstop Justin Protacio, Wright smoked one to short for the game-tying RBI, 2-2.

With less than favorable conditions on the mound, both team’s pitchers buckled down to throw four-straight scoreless innings, before Dartmouth scored the go-ahead run in the top of the 10th. Kansas made a move to the pen in the eighth inning to bring in freshman right-handed sidearm slinger Stephen Villines. After recording two outs, the Jayhawks made another move to bring in senior closer Jordan Piche’ (3-1), who finished out the game.

The Jayhawks had a chance to end the game in the bottom of the ninth after Protacio reached second on an error by Dartmouth third baseman Nick Lombardi to lead off the inning. Wright moved Protacio to third on the sacrifice bunt and left the game in the hands of Suiter who drew the walk and advanced to second on the defensive indifference by the Big Green.

With one out and runners at second and third, Dartmouth’s Robinson buckled down to strike out junior right Fielder Connor McKay, before inducing the fly out to right by junior designated hitter Dakota Smith to get out of the jam.

Two quick outs in the top of the 10th by Piche’ looked to give Kansas another opportunity to win it, however a walk to Bo Patterson changed that, as the left fielder stole second on the next pitch and scored on the RBI single by catcher Adam Gauthier on the next at bat for the Dartmouth lead, 3-2.

Down to their final at bats, the Jayhawks recorded back-to-back pop outs in the bottom of the 10th inning, before freshman Michael Tinsley provided a brief spark with a pinch-hit double down the right field line. That spark didn’t last long as Hernandez flew out to centerfield on the next at bat to end the game and a shot at the seriees sweep for Kansas.

KU is back in action Wednesday, March 26, as the team travels to Omaha, Neb., for a midweek contest against Creighton at T.D. Ameritrade Park. First pitch is set for 6:30 p.m.

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