For the 10th time in the last 11 games, the Texas Longhorns lost to continue the program’s slide into the Big 12 basement thanks to a sweep by the Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence that culminated with a 10-6 loss on Sunday at Hoglund Ballpark.
At 25-25 overall, Texas now sits at 6-12 in the Big 12 standings, behind 7-11 Kansas State, with one series remaining against 8-10 Oklahoma, which sits at No. 5. The best news for the Longhorns is that the Wildcats have looming series against the Mountaineers and Jayhawks, the latter of which will likely determine the final spot in the Big 12 Tournament, which takes the conference’s top eight teams.
As is often the case on Sundays, the game featured a significant offensive output for both teams, but at least Texas didn’t blow another late-game lead or struggle to get base hits. Baby steps, right? Unfortunately, the pitching staff once again suffered from giving up big innings, with Kansas scoring three runs in the second, four runs in the fifth, and three more in the eighth.
For freshman right-hander Ty Madden, control issues were a familiar story, as he walked four batters in 4.1 innings and gave up a big blow in the second by allowing a three-run home run, the type of power production the Horns haven’t managed often this season. When Madden got run from the game in the fifth inning, it was due to smaller blows — three straight singles.
When sophomore right-hander Matt Whelan came on in relief, he promptly gave up two doubles that allowed the Jayhawks to score three runs before he finally ended the inning.
In the eighth, Kansas created some important separation by manufacturing a run with a walk, sacrifice bunt, and single. Another double scored the final two runs of the ballgame.
At the plate, Texas managed eight hits and drew four walks, but struck out 14 times, including eight from the middle of the lineup — freshman Peter Geib struck out four times and sophomore Ryan Reynolds struck out twice and freshman Caston Peter both struck out twice, combing to strand four of the seven runners left on base by the Longhorns.
On the positive side, Reynolds hit his third home run of the season and sophomore first baseman Sam Bertelson had three hits, including a triple. Freshman Bryce Reagan, who received a rare recent start at shortstop, also had two hits in three at bats despite struggling at the plate for most of the season.
Still, those positives are small consolation for a team that once swept LSU and was ranked in the top 10 nationally and drawing consideration for a regional hosting bid. After a difficult March schedule gave way to the team cratering over the last five weeks or so, Texas is now fighting for the season to continue into the Big 12 Tournament.