Kansas dropped game two of its series 6-2 against Texas Saturday afternoon. The Longhorns jumped ahead with a five-run fourth and did not look back, thanks to a fantastic start from redshirt sophomore right-hander Lebarron Johnson.
Junior right-hander Hunter Cashero got the start for Kansas and pitched well, aside from a rough fourth inning. Cashero tossed four innings and gave up six runs on eight hits. The Kansas City Kansas Community College transfer made his first weekend start of the year, starting in place of junior right-hander Sam Ireland who had been the Jayhawks’ Saturday man.
“Hunter’s done a nice job in the mid-week and lengthened his starts a little bit,” head coach Dan Fitzgerald said. “Sam’s been a little up and down lately, and we thought giving him an extra day of rest might catapult him into a great start tomorrow.”
Junior left-hander Ethan Bradford pitched the rest of the game and held the Longhorns to no runs and four hits over five innings.
“When Ethan throws strikes, he’s as good as anyone anywhere,” Fitzgerald said. “[He] only walked one guy and struck some guys out and put the ball in play and were able to do some good things behind him on defense.”
The offense only pushed across one run in the first eight innings before a ninth-inning rally fell short. The Jayhawks added a run and brought the tying run to the plate twice but were unable to do any further damage.
“We always do that. We just need to do it earlier in the game,” Fitzgerald said of the ninth-inning rally. “We always fight at the end… I could’ve called that at seven this morning.”
The Longhorns took an early 1-0 lead in the second following a sacrifice fly from senior designated hitter Tanner Carlson.
Johnson shut down the Kansas bats early, striking out five his first time through the order. Johnson’s strong outing continued, tossing seven innings of one-run ball while striking out 11.
“I thought Johnson was exceptional,” Fitzgerald said. “He’s the best starter we’ve seen this year.”
Junior outfielder Dylan Campbell doubled Texas’ lead with a solo shot to left field to lead off the fourth. Cashero retired the next two, looking to limit the damage. However, the inning quickly became a nightmare scenario, as Texas notched five straight two-out hits and scored four runs.
Kansas battled back with a two-out rally of its own sparked by an opposite-field single from freshman infielder Kodey Shojinaga. Senior first baseman Cole Elvis and redshirt junior infielder Collier Cranford hit back-to-back singles, with Cranford driving in Shojinaga to put the Jayhawks on the board.
Bradford entered in the fifth and kept the Longhorns' bats at bay, tossing five scoreless innings and striking out four.
Sophomore left-hander Ace Whitehead entered in the eighth for Texas and tossed a scoreless inning before loading the bases with one out.
Redshirt sophomore right-hander Andre Duplantier entered and gave up an RBI single to redshirt sophomore catcher Jake English to cut the lead to 6-2. Kansas brought the tying run to the plate twice yet did not push across another run.
Kansas will look to take the series on Sunday afternoon with Ireland on the mound. First pitch is set for 1 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN+.