(Courtesy: KU Athletics)
LUBBOCK, Texas – Sophomore Wes Benjamin earned his fourth victory of the year by tossing seven strong innings, while senior Jordan Dreiling’s two-run double broke open a tight game in the seventh inning as Kansas clinched the series with a 6-1 triumph over Texas Tech Saturday evening at Rip Griffin Park.
The Jayhawks clinch their first series victory in Lubbock since 2003 and improve to 24-14 overall and 9-5 in conference play. KU’s win, coupled with Baylor’s extra-inning loss Saturday, moves the Jayhawks within percentage points of first-place Oklahoma (8-4). The Red Raiders fall to 17-22 and 4-10 in Big 12 play.
For the third-straight start, Benjamin was brilliant, while KU’s offense came alive in the seventh inning. In a 1-1 game through six, the Jayhawks took the lead by sending nine men to the plate as part of a five-run inning. Kansas loaded the bases with one out on a single by Tucker Tharp as well as a walk and an error. Sophomore Michael Suiter then forced home the go-ahead run by drawing a four-pitch walk.
The Jayhawks broke the game open as Alex DeLeon forced in another run, being hit by a pitch, and then Dreiling delivered the big blow – a two-run double down the right field line stretching the lead to 5-1. Dakota Smith capped the seventh-inning rally with a sacrifice fly for KU’s fifth run of the frame. It was KU’s biggest inning since a seven-run first against Oklahoma on March 30.
That was enough for Benjamin to earn his fourth victory of the year. The sophomore lefty went seven innings and allowed one run on five hits with one walk and seven strikeouts. Over his last three starts, Benjamin has allowed just five runs on 14 hits, which spans 22 innings.
On Saturday, Benjamin dominated Tech hitters – save for back-to-back doubles in the second inning. The sophomore worked out of a bases loaded jam in the fourth inning with a ground out to third, which kept the score tied at 1-1. Junior Frank Duncanpitched the final two innings out of the bullpen.
Kansas scored its first run in the second inning on an RBI double by Ka’iana Eldredge, which plated Smith. The sophomore outfielder led the Jayhawk offense, going 3-for-3 with a run scored and an RBI on the night. It was his first three-hit game since March 17 at TCU.
DeLeon also collected two hits in the game, marking his 14thmulti-hit game of the season.