By Blake Schuster
After falling to Texas A&M 8-0 in the weekend series opener Kansas would like a redo. The Jayhawks beat themselves out of the game with a season high four errors, leaving a few Kansas players asking for mulligans. But no blunder was more costly then a botched double play at the top of the fifth inning.
Kansas sophomore Frank Duncan had found his rhythm. With five strikeouts, three hits and a run given up through four innings, the righty from California was coasting through the #2 Aggies lineup.
As the fifth inning started, however, Troy Stein singled back up the middle to leadoff, and Duncan found himself in a hole with the following batter. After two bunt attempts that were pulled back, Blake Allemand dribbled a 2-0 fastball from Duncan just to the right of the mound only a few feet away from second base. But instead of turning the double play Kai’ana Eldredge bobbled the ball allowing Stein and Allemand to coast safely into first and second. Eldredge tried to make the play too quickly and lost control of the ball before he had the chance to flip it to Kevin Kuntz covering second.
Duncan regrouped, getting Scott Arthur to pop out to third base after the error, but he wouldn’t be so fortunate with the next batter. Mikey Reynolds caught hold of Duncan’s first pitch to him and belted it out onto Naismith drive. Instead of getting out of the inning with no damage, the three-run homer put Kansas behind 4-0.
“It goes both ways,” Duncan said of the error. “I can make a mistake pitching just as easily as they can in the field. I trust everyone to make the play, it’s not going to effect the way I pitch at all.”
Duncan, in fact, bounced back from the home run right away, picking off a runner at first and then retiring four out of the next five batters he faced. But against a team like Texas A&M, giving up four runs can be more than enough to lose a ballgame — and Kansas didn’t do anything to help its cause.
In the eighth inning Aggie leadoff man Krey Bratsen reached base on throwing error by Kuntz, and one batter later Jacob House reached first by way of a catcher’s interference on James Stanfield.
“The call was a pitchout,” Stanfield said. “The pitch just kind of came back over the plate but then the hitter swung when I came out.”
It wasn’t the only play Stanfield would regret from the inning. On the next play he tried to gun down Bratsen who was stealing third, but instead the ball sailed into left field allowing Bratsen to score.
Kansas allowed four unearned runs against a team that only gave up four hits to the Jayhawks — a recipe for a loss.
“It’s the mental mistakes we’ve got to eliminate to beat a team like this,” Kansas coach Ritch Price said. “You can’t throw the ball around a base, miss a cutoff man, throw a pitchout and pull the ball back inside where the catcher gets hit. You’re going to get beat if you make those mistakes.”
Jordan Jakubov came in to relieve Duncan after the errors in the 8th, but didn’t have the velocity that the starter was putting on the ball. Jakubov was lit up for three hits and one run in two-thirds of the 8th and turned the ball over to Colin Toalson for the ninth who shutdown the Aggies in order.
Kansas will get two more chances to take down the Aggies before the two Big 12 rivals cease playing with A&M’s move to the SEC. Wes Benjamin will face Ross Stripling at 1:00 at Hoglund.