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Kansas Bats Wake Up Against Northwestern State

Kansas redshirt junior Sean Rackoski allowed one hit and no runs over five innings for his second win in three tries this season.

The Jayhawks scored eight runs for the second time this season to beat Northwestern State by a score of 8-2, bringing KU’s record to 3-6 in 2017.

Freshman left fielder Kaimana Souza-Paaluhi and catcher Jaxx Groshans each had two RBIs to lead Kansas hitters. Six total Jayhawks recorded an RBI.

KU scored more runs on Friday than it had in its last four games combined. Eleven Jayhawks recorded hits, totaling 15 on the day.

“I thought our guys did a really good job of running the count,” manager Ritch Price said. “They did a good job of getting the fastball elevated and being on time. When we had two strikes, we did a good job of taking the ball the other way.”

On the mound, Rackoski threw 90 pitches through five innings after consistently falling behind in counts. He threw 69 pitches in the fourth inning alone, a stat coach Price called “almost unheard of.”

“I just tried to be as aggressive as I could with [my fastball],” Rackoski said. “As long as I stayed aggressive, I knew I could stay around the zone and get batters out.”

Despite blanking the Demons, Rockoski did have command issues. He threw two wild pitches and hit one Northwestern State batter.

“I didn’t think he had very good stuff, and he was in constant trouble in terms of being behind in the count, but when there were guys on base, he was able to execute pitches and get out of trouble,” Price said. “When he got behind 2-0, which seemed like a lot, he found a way to pound the fastball in [the zone].”

Out of the bullpen, juniors Blake Weiman and Tyler Davis and sophomore Zack Leban combined for no runs and no hits over 3 and ⅔ innings.

The two Northwestern State runs came in the eighth inning. Sophomore Blake Goldsberry allowed two hits to freshman shortstop Caleb Ricca and Valdez. Ricca came home after a Goldsberry wild pitch.

Leban replaced Goldsberry after ⅓ of an inning and drew an RBI groundout. The run went against Goldsberry. Coach Price had mixed feelings about Goldsberry’s season after the game.

“Blake’s going to be a really good player for us before he’s done,” Price said. “His [velocity] has picked up already about four or five miles an hour since he got here after high school. He’s now pitching at 90, 91. He has a good changeup. His breaking ball is still a little too slow.”

Injury Report: sophomore Rudy Karre, who hit the outfield wall chasing down a double against Oral Roberts on Tuesday, played all nine innings and went 2-3 at the plate.

Looking Ahead: junior Jeider Rincon will likely take the mound Saturday for the Jayhawks for game two of the three game set against the Demons. First pitch is 2 p.m.