sam ireland baseball

Junior right-hander Sam Ireland throws a complete game on March 4, 2023. 

After dropping the series opener to Belmont, Kansas bounced back with a 5-0 win over the Bruins on Saturday afternoon. The highlight of the afternoon came from junior right-hander Sam Ireland. The Minnesota transfer twirled a complete game shutout with five strikeouts while only allowing four hits and a walk.

The offense backed up Ireland with 15 hits, led by a 4-for-5 performance from freshman outfielder Jackson Kline and a 3-for-5 afternoon from Kansas’ leadoff man, redshirt sophomore outfielder Michael Koszewski. 

Kansas had a chance to give Ireland insurance early in the top of the first. Singles from sophomore outfielder Chase Jans and Kline left Jayhawks on the corners with two outs. However, a flyout from redshirt junior infielder Collier Cranford ended the threat.

After cruising through the first two innings, Ireland faced some trouble in the third. Ireland struck out the first two batters before walking junior outfielder Jeff Clarke. Junior infielder Sam Kirkpatrick advanced Clarke to third on a single. Kirkpatrick then stole second, putting runners on second and third with two outs. Ireland bore down, striking out the next batter to end the inning. 

The Jayhawks had another chance to break the scoreless game in the fourth. Redshirt sophomore catcher Jake English and redshirt sophomore infielder Michael Brooks singled, before a failed pickoff attempt from sophomore right-hander Jordan Zuger advanced the runners to second and third. However, Kansas failed to bring anyone in again as redshirt sophomore infielder Jackson Cobb lined out too short.

Kansas finally got on the board in the fifth inning with a four-run frame. Singles from Jans and senior first baseman Cole Elvis put the Bruins in trouble. The Jayhawks finally cashed in with a single from Kline, bringing in Jans. Cranford then broke open the game with a three-run homer to left, his second in the young season. The LSU transfer has enjoyed a good start to his first season with the Jayhawks, tied for the team lead with eight RBIs.

Freshman right-hander Will Pryor entered the game in the sixth for Belmont, and he instantly got into trouble. Cobb walked before a single from Koszewski advanced Cobb to third. Jans hit a sacrifice fly out to right, scoring Cobb and extending Kansas’ lead to 5-0.

Ireland continued to roll as the Jayhawks gave him the lead. He retired the Bruins in order in the bottom of the sixth and only allowed one baserunner in the seventh.

The Bruins had an opportunity to break the shutout in the eighth after a double from Clarke, who advanced to third after a Kirkpatrick flyout. However, a lineout from junior outfielder Max Blessinger kept Belmont out of the scoring column.

Ireland finished off the Bruins in the bottom of the ninth by inducing a double play after giving up a one-out single. The 104-pitch complete-game shutout is the first for a Jayhawk since the 2021 season.

Kansas is now 6-3 and will look to win the series against Belmont on Sunday afternoon. The first pitch for the rubber match is set for 11 a.m.