Nine of the 10 runs that crossed the plate on Sunday afternoon came via the long ball as Kansas prevailed 6-4 in the rubber match of a three-game, season-opening series against the Valparaiso University baseball team in Corpus Christi, Texas. Valpo led 4-2 through five and a half innings thanks to three Beacon bombs, but four unearned Jayhawk tallies in the bottom of the sixth including a three-run home run flipped the script.
How It Happened
- Kansas started the scoring with a two-run homer in the second inning. Starting pitcher Ryan Mintz (Lombard, Ill. / Willowbrook) walked four in that frame and left with the bases loaded and two outs. Grant Jablonski (Mishawka, Ind. / Mishawaka) was summoned from the bullpen and notched a strikeout, minimizing the damage to two runs.
- Jablonski struck out the side in the third, then Valpo got on the board when Kyle Schmack (Wanatah, Ind. / South Central) led off the fourth with a home run. Jablonski kept rolling in the last of the fourth, working another 1-2-3.
- The Beacons grabbed the lead thanks to one swing of the bat by Nolan Tucker (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central), who belted a two-run big fly to make it 3-2 Valpo in the fifth.
- Jablonski issued a lead off walk in the bottom of the fifth to snap his stretch of seven straight retired since entering the game, but he induced a double play and again faced the minimum in that inning.
- Valpo added to the lead in the sixth when Jacob Skrine (Longmont, Colo. / Mead [Indiana]) crushed one to left for the team’s third home run of the day, making it a 4-2 game.
- Jablonski exited after facing 10 batters and recording 10 outs as Jacob Rosenkranz (Lincolnshire, Ill. / Stevenson) took over in the bottom of the sixth. He would have had a 1-2-3 frame, but instead a throwing error was sandwiched between the first two outs. That proved large as eventually four unearned runs crossed the plate in the inning, three of which came on a go-ahead three-run homer by Chase Jans.
- Rosenkranz retired the side in order in the seventh before Bobby Nowak (Cedar Lake, Ind. / Hanover Central [Kankakee]) made his season debut with a scoreless eighth, working out of a second-and-third, one-out jam thanks to consecutive strikeouts.
- A double play ended the Valpo eighth, and the Beacon bats went down in order in the ninth.
Inside the Game
- Valpo hit six home runs in the three games against Big 12 foe Kansas, including two by Skrine, the first two of his collegiate career after joining the program as a grad transfer from Indiana.
- Tucker’s home run was the third of his career, while Schmack’s was his 10th.
- Jablonski’s final line featured 3 1/3 shutout innings of hitless ball while striking out four and walking one. That marked his career high in terms of both innings pitched and strikeouts.
- The Beacons yielded just four hits and outhit the Jayhawks 5-4.
- Tucker and Schmack recorded two hits apiece.
- Redshirt sophomore Matt Olive (Minneapolis, Minn. / Blake School) was in the lineup at designated hitter, making his first appearance since March 13, 2022 after he missed the bulk of last season with an injury.
Valpo (1-2) will visit UT Martin for a three-game series beginning on Friday, Feb. 24 in Martin, Tenn. The series opener will get underway at 5 p.m.