Despite losing the final game of the weekend against Virginia State University (8-7), the KU baseball team (6-3) took the three-game series, winning the first two games of a double header by a combined score of 17-2 this past weekend at Virginia State.
In game one of the double header on Saturday, the Golden Bears set the tone, scoring four runs on four hits in the first inning. Travis Kreitz put his team on the board first with a two-run double down the right field line. John Dockins and Brandon Martinez each added RBI-singles in the first. They were able to relax after their four-run first inning as KU went on to win the game easily 9-1.
KU scored two more insurance runs in the fourth inning on Kyle Stoudt’s two-run double. Stoudt finished the game 1-2.
Starting pitcher Jason Henderson was credited with the win for KU, throwing three innings and only allowing two hits with one strike-out. He leads the team with two wins on the season.
Sophomore Connor Wing relieved Henderson in the fourth, adding two more zeros on the board in KU’s victory. Wing has thrown a total of four scoreless innings this season.
In game two, the Golden Bears’ offense remained hot as they jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first on RBI hits from Carson Baker and Stoudt.
In the bottom of the first, the Trojans scored on a wild pitch thrown by Stoudt and cut the Golden Bears’ lead to 1.
The score remained 2-1 until KU’s offense exploded in the third inning, scoring five runs on six hits. The inning was highlighted by catcher Joe Peters and third basemen Todd Rubendall, each hitting two-run singles. The momentum from their huge third inning carried the Golden Bears to an 8-1 victory and a sweep over the Trojans on Saturday.
Stoudt earned his first victory of the year, throwing three innings, allowing three hits and one earned run while striking out three. Colin Holmes, J.R. Seader, Jordan Gottshall and Matt Swarmer each threw a scoreless frame to close out the game. KU struck out a total of 10 VSU hitters in the contest.
The Golden Bears just couldn’t get their offense going in the series-ender on Sunday, being shut-out for the first time this season. Virginia State starter, Joshua Markins, threw a complete five-hitter game en route to the team’s 4-0 victory.
Holmes noticed a shift in the team’s attitude on Sunday and said, “Once we found ourselves down, everybody started to press and [tried to] win the game with one play instead of playing our normal game.”
After KU starting pitcher Tom Neely went scoreless through the first two innings, Brandon Shurr came in relief in the third. Shurr allowed two runs on two hits and was credited with the loss, his second of the season.
The only bright spot for KU was the center fielder Martinez who went 3-4 with a stolen base.
“It’s still early in the year and we have some things to improve on,” Martinez said. “We [will] continue to work hard, which will bring us consistent positive results.”
The Golden Bears’ spring break trip consists of single games against Catawba College and Barton College and a doubleheader against Shaw University, all located in North Carolina. They leave on Sunday, March 10 for their first game against Catawba slated for the following Monday at 1 p.m.
By Bill Felo