March 22, 2009

Courtesy of Kansas Athletics

LAWRENCE, Kan. - Sophomore Brian Heere went 2-for-4 and scored the winning run on a Buck Afenir sacrifice fly, while Lee Ridenhour pitched 6 2/3 solid innings as Kansas completed a three-game sweep of No. 1 Texas, 4-3 Sunday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark. The sweep is the first over a top-ranked team in Jayhawk baseball history.

KU improves to 13-7 overall and 3-0 in Big 12 play, while Texas falls to 14-6 and 2-4 in conference play. Prior to this weekend, the Jayhawks had never swept the Longhorns in a three game series, and hadn’t won three consecutive games against Texas.

Like the previous two days, Kansas used strong pitching and small ball to take a one-run victory away from the Longhorns.

With the score tied at three in the bottom of the seventh, Heere led off with a double and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt by Robby Price. Afenir hit a sac fly to deep center field to plate the winning run.

KU’s bullpen again made the single-run lead stand up as Travis Blankenship, Colton Murray and Paul Smyth combined to hold the Longhorns scoreless over the final 2 1/3 innings. Blankenship recorded his second victory in as many days, working 2/3 of an inning, while Smyth pitched his third-straight scoreless ninth for his sixth save of the season.

Kansas broke out in front for the third straight day, scoring three runs in the fourth inning of Texas starting pitcher Cole Green. The Jayhawks loaded the bases with nobody out on a hit batsman and two singles. Senior Nick Faunce collected the third straight hit of the inning, with a bloop single to center, which scored the first run of the day.

After Jason Brunansky’s walk brought in another run, junior David Narodowski drove in another run with a check-swing single that rolled 20 feet down the third baseline.

Texas came back with single runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh to chase Ridenhour from the game. The KU freshman went 6 2/3 innings, allowing two earned runs on eight hits with no walks and four strikeouts. While he did not earn a decision in the game, the KU righty posted his third consecutive quality start.

Over Ridenhour’s last three starts, he’s allowed just three earned runs over 21 2/3 innings.

Heere, Narodowski and first baseman Preston Land each had two hits to lead the Kansas offense.

The Jayhawks start conference play at 3-0 for the first time since 1994, when the team won its first three games as a member of the Big Eight Conference. Kansas has also won 10 straight games at home, its longest home winning streak since 2001-02, when the Jayhawks won 12 straight.

KU will look to keep the momentum going Tuesday when it hosts Western Illinois in the first of a two-game series at Hoglund Ballpark. First pitch on Tuesday is scheduled for 3 p.m.