Kansas baseball wrapped up the regular season in style as it swept in-state rival Kansas State in the Dillon’s Sunflower Showdown over the weekend.
The Jayhawks quickly ran away with the series opener as they won 10-0 over the Wildcats Friday night. Junior pitcher Ryan Zeferjahn was once again the standout with a three-hit, eight strikeout performance over 7 1/3 innings of work, highlighted by his 100th strikeout of the season in the sixth inning.
Zeferjahn became the first player in Kansas baseball history to throw 100 strikeouts in consecutive seasons.
It was a fitting end to an illustrious college career for Zeferjahn, who is likely to be drafted in the early rounds of the 2019 MLB Draft.
"I knew it was probably my last start coming in and just walking off the mound with all my family and everyone there just cheering and being around my teammates, it's kind of sad,” Zeferjahn said in a Kansas Athletics press release. “It’s been a great three years here.”
Kansas took complete control in the first inning as it scored five runs behind a walk and four consecutive singles. Junior shortstop Benjamin Sems led the charge offensively for Kansas as he recorded two hits, two RBIs and two runs scored.
Inclement weather Saturday forced Kansas to play a doubleheader Sunday afternoon, which the Jayhawks took advantage of.
The offense didn’t slow down in the top half of Sunday’s doubleheader as Kansas jumped out to a 4-0 first inning lead en route to a 9-6 victory. The scoring was ignited by a double from sophomore third baseman Skyler Messinger and singles from Sems and sophomore first baseman Nolan Metcalf.
Redshirt junior pitcher Ryan Cyr put in a solid performance until the top of the seventh inning, where the Wildcats scored four runs. Cyr had allowed just two runs in the first six innings.
The Jayhawks staved off a comeback by the Wildcats, though, largely thanks to redshirt junior reliever Nathan Barry, who slammed the door with 2 2/3 innings of one-hit shutout baseball. Barry earned his first save of the season.
The final game of the regular season resulted in a signature win for the Jayhawks, who came back from a deficit three times to earn a 6-4 win over Kansas State.
After the Wildcats hit a solo home run to take a 4-3 lead in the top of the sixth, the Jayhawks hit right back with a game-tying RBI double from sophomore pinch hitter Tom Lichty. Later in the inning, Lichty scored the go-ahead run on a throwing error by the Wildcats.
Junior catcher Jaxx Groshans put on a show offensively as he connected with his 12th home run of the season, capping off a 2-for-4 hitting day with three RBIs and a double.
Senior pitchers Ryan Ralston and Brandon Ponticelli each made appearances on Senior Day, both posting scoreless outings. Senior infielder Blake Shinkle also received the start from coach Ritch Price.
Redshirt sophomore closer Jonah Ulane earned his ninth save of the season as he tossed a scoreless ninth inning.
After winning seven of their last nine conference games, the Jayhawks have earned a place in the 2019 Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship as the No. 5 seed.
Kansas will face off against No. 4 seed West Virginia Wednesday, May 22 at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.