AUSTIN (KXAN) — A grand slam by Janson Reeder fueled the Kansas Jayhawks to a 6-3 win over Texas in the first round of the Big 12 Conference baseball tournament Wednesday at Globe Life Field in Arlington.
With the score tied 2-2 in the seventh inning, Reeder lined a full-count pitch from Travis Sthele over the right-field wall after the Longhorns tied the game in the sixth. Kansas had runners on second and third with two outs, and Longhorns head coach David Pierce elected to intentionally walk Jayhawks second baseman Kodey Shojinaga to load the bases and create an out at any base. Shojinaga, who was named Big 12 co-freshman of the year Tuesday, had three hits in the game prior to the free pass. The clutch homer was Reeder’s only hit of the game.
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“That was a big blow to come back from,” Pierce said. “We just didn’t get anything going early. I thought KU played outstanding.”
Texas had its best chance to get back in the game in the seventh inning after Mitchell Daly led off with a double and Jack O’Dowd looped a single into center field. That gave the Longhorns runners on first and third with no outs, but Kansas relief pitcher Thaniel Trumper struck out pinch hitter Rylan Galvan on three pitches, then coaxed Jared Thomas and Peyton Powell into flyouts to escape the frame.
O’Dowd was a bright spot for the Longhorns on offense, going 4-for-4 with two home runs. He was the only Longhorn to have multiple hits, and his two homers were no-doubters. The first came in the third inning on the 14th pitch of the at-bat against Kansas starting pitcher Collin Baumgartner. O’Dowd hit a towering fly ball that went foul on the previous pitch, then sent another into the right-field seats that stayed fair for a solo shot. His second homer came in the ninth, a 420-foot blast to dead center field.
Lucas Gordon pitched five innings for the Longhorns and wasn’t his sharpest. He allowed two earned runs on seven hits with five strikeouts and a walk. Sthele was given the loss after four innings of relief, allowing the grand slam with three strikeouts and three walks.
For the Jayhawks, Baumgartner pitched six innings and allowed one earned run on six hits with five strikeouts and a walk. Trumper earned a 3-inning save and allowed three hits.
With the loss, Texas ended a five-game winning streak. Three of those wins came against West Virginia to earn a share of the Big 12 regular season title and No. 1 seed in the tournament. The Jayhawks entered the tournament as the No. 8 seed. O’Dowd likened the letdown to an opening game of a series, and in the tournament’s double-elimination format, they’ve got another shot at working back through the bracket.
“I think we’re confident that we can reset,” O’Dowd said. “There have been some Friday games we’ve lost and came back and won the last two, and that’s the approach we have to take tomorrow.”
The Longhorns (38-19) play fifth-seeded Kansas State in a loser-out game at 9 a.m. Thursday