March 21, 2009

Courtesy of Kansas Athletics

LAWRENCE, Kan. - Junior Shaeffer Hall pitched seven strong innings, while Preston Land’s RBI single in the fifth inning proved to be the difference as Kansas knocked off No. 1 Texas, 5-4, Friday afternoon in the Big 12 baseball opener at Hoglund Ballpark.

KU’s win, the first for the Jayhawks over a top-ranked team since 1993, improves the team to 11-7 overall and 1-0 in conference play. Texas drops to 14-4 and 2-2 in the conference. The game also marked the first time the Jayhawks have won their first league game of the season since 2005.

The Jayhawks took advantage of a pair of Texas errors in the third to break out to a 4-0 lead and rode the arm of their left-handed ace.

Hall went seven innings, allowing four runs on six hits with a walk and five strikeouts. After allowing a leadoff single to Travis Tucker, Hall retired the next 12 men he faced. The junior lefty improved to 2-1 on the season, battling through jams in his last three innings.

Fortunately for Hall, his offense gave him a boost in the third inning. After Nick Faunce and Jason Brunansky started the inning with singles, David Narodowski loaded the bases on a fielder’s choice.

Sophomore right fielder Brian Heere brought in the first KU run with a bases loaded walk, while the Jayhawks added two more runs on a throwing error by Texas first baseman Brandon Belt. Senior Buck Afenir gave his pitcher a four-run lead with an RBI single to cap the rally.

Afenir was one of three Jayhawks with two hits in the game, joining Brian Heere and Jason Brunansky.

After Kevin Keyes cut the Longhorn deficit to 4-2 with his second home run of the season, Land drove in the eventual winning run following an Afenir single and a hit batsman.

Texas scored single runs off Hall in the sixth and seventh innings, but the junior left-hander minimized the damage in both innings.

In the eighth, he gave way to Travis Blankenship and Brett Bochy, who combined to retire the side in order. Senior Paul Smyth earned his fourth save of the season by inducing three fly outs in the ninth.

Kansas, winners of eight straight at home, will look for a series victory Saturday when it meets Texas in the second game of the three-game set at Hoglund Ballpark. First pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m.