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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Junior Tucker Tharp’s timing was impeccable. After going hitless in his first four at bats of the night, the third-year outfielder lined a base hit to right field that plated the winning run in the bottom of the 12th inning as Kansas outlasted Texas, 7-6, Friday night at Hoglund Ballpark.
The Jayhawks win their fourth-straight and improve to 21-12 overall and 6-4 in the Big 12, while the Longhorns fall to 18-14 and 3-7 in conference play.
After Texas tied the game in the top of the eighth inning, the Jayhawks and Longhorns traded missed opportunities until Tharp’s game-winning hit in the 12th. Dakota Smith and pinch hitter Tommy Mirabelli collected back-to-back singles, and Tharp stepped to the plate with two outs. On the seventh pitch of the at-bat, the junior hit a line drive the opposite way and Smith scampered home from second base with the winning run.
It marked the Jayhawks’ third walk-off win of the season and first extra-innings win over the Longhorns in the history of the series.
Junior Jordan Piché earned his team-leading fifth win of the year, tossing 4 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. It was the Kansas closer’s longest outing since he threw 4 1/3 innings in a 12-inning win at TCU on March 17.
After spotting Texas a 4-0 lead, the Jayhawks came storming back in the middle innings. KU cut the deficit to 4-2 in the third on Michael Suiter’s RBI single and a fielder’s choice off the bat of DeLeon. With runners on first and third and one out, Kevin Kuntzbroke for the plate on a grounder to third. The throw to the plate skipped in front of the catcher, allowing Kuntz to score.
Kansas then took the lead in the fifth. After another run on a fielder’s choice, DeLeon blasted his fourth home run to left center giving the Jayhawks a 5-4 lead.
Texas tied the game in the sixth on a Brooke Marlow RBI single, but the Jayhawks regained the lead on a dropped pop up, which allowed Protacio to score from third.
Kuntz led the offense, going 3-for-3 with three sacrifices and a stolen base, while Suiter and DeLeon chipped in two hits each. KU starter Thomas Taylor did not factor in the decision, tossing six innings and allowing five runs on nine hits with a walk and six strikeouts.
The teams will play the second game of the three-game series on Saturday at 2 p.m. Fans can tune in on 1320 AM (KLWN) or on AT&T Jayhawk All-Access.