Baseball vs Missouri State-12.jpg

Junior pitcher Stone Hewlett sets up for a pitch.

One swing of the bat was more than enough for sophomore outfielder Chase Jans to pull Kansas baseball ahead of Valparaiso, and junior lefty Stone Hewlett locked down the save with three scoreless innings to secure the rubber match, 6-4. 

The Jayhawks saw early success at the plate with freshman infielder Kodey Shojinaga’s first career blast, a two-run shot to left to bring home junior outfielder Janson Reeder in the second inning. 

With redshirt junior righthander Hunter Cranton taking the bump for the Jayhawks, Valparaiso bats were quiet early on with back-to-back 1-2-3 scoreless innings in the second and third. But, the calm lasted until the fourth, as Beacon outfielder Kyle Schmack got through to the San Diego State transfer for a solo shot to put the Beacons on the board. 

Cranton ended his day allowing one earned run in four innings while striking out five and surrendering four walks on 71 pitches.

The long ball proved to be Valparaiso’s recipe for success over the series, launching six home runs over the weekend, with senior catcher Jake Skrine hitting two in as many days. 

With redshirt-sophomore infielder Nolan Tucker’s two-run blast in the fifth and Skrine’s solo home run off junior righty Kolby Dougan, Kansas saw a 4-2 deficit going into the bottom half of the sixth. But, Kansas Athletics weren’t strangers to any comebacks over the weekend, and Kansas baseball was prepared to join in on the action.

A Valparaiso error to put Reeder on first was just the first domino to fall for the Jayhawks. Redshirt-sophomore infielder Michael Brooks’ two-out single followed to keep Kansas threatening for redshirt-junior infielder Collier Cranford to step to the plate. Cranford then found an opening in the left-field side to bring home Reeder, and Jans sealed the deal with a three-run blast to put the Jayhawks back on top, 6-4. 

Hewlett took the mound for Kansas in the top of the seventh and kept the gap at bay, ultimately nailing the save in the 9th with a quick 1-2-3 inning. 

Despite allowing the pair of home runs, Dougan was credited the win on Sunday, pitching two innings with five punch outs. 

The Jayhawks look to carry over the momentum from the Opening Series win as they now look toward a four-game set against Oakland. At a neutral site at The Depot at Cleburne Stadium in Cleburne, Texas, first pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. on Feb. 24.