KU Splits Doubleheader with Northern Colorado

<strong>LAWRENCE, Kan.</strong> - Junior outfielder A.J. Van Slyke hit a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 11th inning to lift the University of Kansas baseball team to a 9-8 victory and a series win over Northern Colorado in the second game of a doubleheader at Hoglund Ballpark on Saturday.

Earlier in the day, Kansas fell to the Bears 3-2 in extra innings in the doubleheader's opening game.

With the series win the Jayhawks improve to 12-4 on the season, while UNC drops to 1-8.

"I think that today we lost the game we should have won and we won the game we should have lost," said Kansas head coach Ritch Price. "As long as we keep working hard and practicing, we will be fine."

Northern Colorado jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the fourth inning of game two as the Bears chased Kansas starter Sean Land who allowed four runs, only one of which was earned, in 3 2/3 innings of work.

After the Bears added a run in the top of the frame, the Jayhawks cut into the UNC lead by plating two runs in the bottom of the fifth inning on an RBI groundout by freshman Brock Simpson and a sacrifice fly off the bat of senior first baseman Andy Scholl.

Junior outfielder Matt Baty delivered a two-run single in the bottom of the sixth inning to bring the Jayhawks to within one run at 6-5.

After UNC plated a run in both the eight and ninth innings, KU went to the bottom of the ninth trailing 8-5. The Jayhawks posted the first run of the inning on an RBI double by A.J. Van Slyke and after scoring on a wild pitch they were able to tie the game on a sacrifice fly off the bat of junior center fielder Gus Milner.

For the second consecutive game, the two teams went into extra frames to decide the outcome.

Junior pitcher Kodiak Quick came out of the Kansas bullpen to pitch 1 1/3 shutout innings to send the game into the bottom of the 11th tied at 8-8. With one out, Van Slyke took a pitch from UNC reliever Tyler Pearson over the wall in right center field for the first walk-off home run of the Ritch Price era, which began prior to the 2003 season.

Van Slyke finished the game 3-for-5 with three runs scored and two RBI to complete the three game series with a .556 batting average, two home runs and six RBI.

"Van Slyke needed to hit one (a home run)," Price added. "It was a big hit for him."

Quick picked up the win in the contest, improving his record this season to 4-0 and lowering his ERA to 1.11.

In game one, it was the Bears who again jumped out to a lead by plating a pair of runs in the fourth inning.

KU pitcher Scott Sharpe entered the game in the top of sixth inning in relief of starter Clint Schambach, who pitched 5 2/3 innings and allowed only two runs. Sharpe pitched a season-high 3 1/3 innings and kept the Bears off the board through the ninth inning.

Kansas got on the board in the home half of the sixth inning capitalizing on a UNC error to cut the Bears lead to 2-1.

In the bottom of ninth, the Jayhawks rallied to score a run and tie the game at 2-2. Freshman second baseman Ryne Price sent the game to extra innings by plating freshman John Allman, who had reached after being hit with a pitch, on a sacrifice fly to center field.

Northern Colorado scored the go-ahead run in the top of the tenth on an RBI single by senior left fielder Ryan Symons.

The Jayhawks got a runner on base in the bottom half of the inning, but could not bring him around to score as senior catcher Sean Richardson was gunned down trying to steal second to end the ball game

Kansas baseball is back in action at Hoglund Ballpark on Tuesday, March 1, as they host Southwest Missouri State. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Story courtesy: KUAC

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