Saturday wasn’t just another Kansas victory against Northwestern State at Hoglund Ballpark. Jayhawk manager Ritch Price earned his 439th victory with KU, making him the all-time winningest coach in program history. Price passes Floyd Temple, who held the record previously after coaching in Lawrence from 1954 to 1981.
“It’s pretty humbling, there is no doubt about that,” Price said. “Nobody knows how hard this job is more than I do and to be here long enough to accomplish this is truly special. It’s an honor to coach here and I just want to thank all my players and the coaches that have been with me all these years.”
The game started out sloppy for the Jayhawks, especially on the mound. KU’s starter Jeider Rincon gave up a lead-off triple to open the game. The very next pitch rolled to the backstop and the Demons scored their first run.
Kansas would respond in the bottom half of the first inning. Sophomore center fielder Devin Foyle’s single scored junior shortstop Matt McLaughlin. The top of the order — consisting of Foyle, McLaughlin, and freshman right fielder Kaimana Souza-Paaluhi — are the only Jayhawk hitters batting over .300 this season.
Sophomore pitcher Jackson Goddard entered the game for Rincon in the second inning as the Jayhawks trailed the Demons. Goddard kept Kansas in the game for the remainder of the early innings.
Northwestern State took a 5-4 lead going into the 6th before the Kansas bats came alive. Kansas put up a seven spot on Northwestern State that inning, highlighted by senior first baseman Marcus Wheeler’s three-run double that gave the Jayhawks a lead at 7-5. A Foyle double followed, making the score 8-5. The inning ended with sophomore right fielder Rudy Karre’s three-run homer to put the game out of reach at 11-5.
“That was a huge play that put us back on top, Devin followed that up and obviously Rudy smoked the ball to left field,” Price said. “Those three are pretty darn good to be hitting in the middle of that lineup.”
Stephen Villines saw his first action on the mound since pitching against Stanford last Sunday. The senior closer ended the game for his second save of the season.
Kansas looks for its first sweep of the season on Sunday in its final game against Northwestern State. First pitch is set for 1 p.m.