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Kansas Baseball Advances to Big 12 Semifinals; Drops Game to No. 8 Oklahoma


ARLINGTON, Texas (– On day four at the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, Kansas won a thrilling 11-10 game versus TCU to advance to the semifinals of the conference tournament before dropping a heartbreaking 8-6 game on a walk-off home run to No. 8 Oklahoma.

Kansas led 9-0 in the first game before TCU tied the game at 10-10. In the eighth inning, Jake English hit a go-ahead solo home run to push Kansas to the semifinals.

Kansas took a 6-0 lead against the Big 12 regular season champion Sooners in the semifinals before Oklahoma evened the game at 6-6. A walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth by Jackson Nicklaus ended it.

Kansas moved to 31-23 on the season and finished with 17 wins against Big 12 Conference opponents this season. The Jayhawks went 16-9 down the stretch, including eight top 60 RPI wins during that span.

GAME ONE (Kansas 11, TCU 10)


Kansas exploded for nine runs in the first inning. The Jayhawks sent 14 batters to the plate, had five hits, three of which were extra-base hits, four walks and two hit by pitches. English, Chase Diggins and John Nett all had two-run singles and Kodey Shojinaga had a bases-clearing double to score three. Seven of the nine runs in the inning came with two outs. The Jayhawks led 9-0 at the end of the first inning.

TCU (33-21) started to chip away at the deficit in the second with a solo home run by Jack Basseer and a two-run homer by Karson Bowen to make it 9-3. A three-run homer by Kurtis Byrne in the third trimmed it to 9-6 in favor of Kansas.

The Jayhawks added one run in the bottom of the third as Nett scored on a double play. The run gave Kansas a 10-6 lead.

The Horned Frogs went on to tie the game at 10-10. A solo home run by Byrne, his second of the game, in the fifth made it 10-7. Then, Sam Myers scored on a double play in the seventh and Luke Boyers hit a game-tying home run to even up the game.

With one out in the eighth, English sent a go-ahead solo home run out to left-center field. The homer gave KU an 11-10 lead going into the ninth. TCU had back-to-back singles to start the inning, but Hunter Cranton escaped by inducing a double play and a fly out to end the game.

The win advanced Kansas to the semifinals of the Big 12 Championship for the first time since 2013.

Win: Hunter Cranton (4-3)
Final line: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO
Loss: Braeden Sloan (4-4)
Final line: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 1 SO

GAME TWO (Oklahoma 8, Kansas 6)


Kansas came out hot offensively for a second consecutive game. The Jayhawks put up four runs in the first inning. A walk and back-to-back singles loaded the bases with no outs. English hit a two-run double, Lenny Ashby had a sacrifice fly and Collier Cranford hit an RBI single to give the Jayhawks a 4-0 lead.

KU added two more in the second to make it a 6-0 advantage after an RBI fielder’s choice by English and an RBI single from Ashby.

J’Briell Easley started for Kansas and had a career-high 11 strikeouts. He had two in the first, three in the second, two in the third, three in the fourth and two in the fifth. The 11 strikeouts matched Jordan Piché for the most in a Big 12 Championship game by a Kansas pitcher.

Oklahoma (37-18) broke through offensively in the fifth inning with five runs. Jaxon Willits hit a two-run homer, Nicklaus had a 2-run single and Kendall Pettis hit an RBI single. That made it a 6-5 game. The Sooners then tied the game at 6-6 in the sixth inning on an RBI double by Willits.

Both teams had opportunities in the seventh and eighth innings but could not capitalize. After Kansas left a couple stranded in the ninth, Oklahoma won it on a walk-off two-run homer by Nicklaus.

Win: Ryan Lambert (4-0)
Final line: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO
Loss: Cooper Moore (1-4)
Final line: 1.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 0 SO

“What an awesome day of baseball. We were walking over at 6:45 a.m. this morning so we’ve been at this for 11 hours. I could not be more proud of my guys and how they competed. Not just today, all year and really the past two years. I think if you look at where we’ve come, who we are and what we’ve done, I think it’s an awesome thing to look at in terms of overall growth. (Jake English and J’Briell Easley) have different stories for sure, but what J’Briell did today on the mound was absolutely fantastic. I could not possibly be more proud of him. What Jake English has done every day since I met him has been amazing. A great win early in the day scoring nine in the first and pulling it off late on Jake’s home run. Then, an awesome game against a really, really good OU team.” – Head Coach Dan Fitzgerald

“I’m not tired yet, but I’m sure I will be tonight and tomorrow. It was a super fun two games and competitive baseball all around. If I was going to go out, I wouldn’t want to go out any other way. That was awesome.” – Jake English

“I just think back to when Coach Fitz told me to trust the process. We’ve had our ups and downs all year. I was hurt, came back this year, and Coach Fitz and Coach Scott believed in me. They gave me the ball for that game and my teammates told me they would carry me off the field if they needed to.” – J’Briell Easley

• The nine runs Kansas scored in the first inning are its most ever in a Big 12 Championship game. The last Big 12 team to score at least nine runs in an inning was TCU on May 23, 2019 vs. Oklahoma (14 runs).
• Easley had a career-high 11 strikeouts. He tied Piché for the most in a Big 12 Championship game by a Kansas pitcher.
• Shojinaga had his sixth four-hit game of the season in the semifinals contest.
• English hit his team-high 14th home run of the season.

Kansas awaits its fate to see if it will be one of the 64 teams selected for the NCAA Tournament.