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Big 12 Baseball Championship, Game 3: Kansas 7, West Virginia 2

The Jayhawks stun the Mountaineers to take the lead (for the moment) in Pool Two.

See, we have no Kansas or West Virginia baseball pictures at all.
See, we have no Kansas or West Virginia baseball pictures at all.
Mike Ehrmann

Thomas Taylor retired 18 in a row at one point, and a pair of two-run innings gave Thomas all he needed to lead sixth-seeded Kansas past the third-seeded Mountaineers in Pool Two play, ending the Jayhawks' six-game losing streak.

The Jayhawks got on the board early. Justin Protacio doubled to left, and Kevin Kuntz laid down a perfect bunt to move Protacio over -- and happened to beat the throw to first himself. Michael Suiter laid down another bunt, and West Virginia starter Dan Dierdorff threw the ball away allowing Protacio to score. After getting the next two batters out, Dierdorff allowed a single to Dakota Smith, which scored Kuntz, before escaping the inning.

West Virginia got one back in the second when with runners on the corners Michael Constantini smacked a double down the left field line, but with men on second and third and only one out, the Mountaineers couldn't capitalize any further. Indeed, Constantini would be West Virginia's last baserunner until the eighth inning.

Dierdorff retired eight in a row himself during the middle innings, but in the seventh the Jayhawks doubled their tally. Ka'iana Eldredge singled, then was moved to second by a Tucker Tharp sacrifice. Protacio singled, moving Eldredge to third, and then Kuntz laid down a brilliant suicide squeeze. There was no chance at the plate, and Kuntz was retired at first. Suiter followed with an RBI single before Dierdorff sat Alex DeLeon down to end his own afternoon.

Connor McKay and Eldredge scored on a Tharp double in the eighth to really put the game out of reach. The Mountaineers rallied with one down in the bottom of the frame, chasing Taylor after he hit Boyd with a pitch and walked Brady Wilson on five pitches, which just meant it was time for Ritch Price to call on closer Jordan Piche', the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year. Jacob Rice immediately singled to plate Boyd, and Ryan Tuntland singled to load the bases for the Big 12's leading home run hitter Ryan McBroom -- the tying run. McBroom worked a 3-0 count before taking strike one... then lined out to Protacio at second, who flipped to Kuntz and doubled off Rice to end the threat.

Kansas added another run in the ninth, and it should have been two. Kuntz led off with a double and Suiter reached on an error. DeLeon moved the runners with a groundout to first; Jordan Dreiling laid down a bunt and the pitcher came home to retire Kuntz -- but he actually got under the tag per the replay. The next pitch, however, was wild, and Suiter scored to make it 7-2.

The Jayhawk win really gives Oklahoma State the inside track on Pool Two at this point, though of course they'll have to handle TCU in the nightcap tonight or Pool Two may descend into utter chaos. Tomorrow, KU gets their shot at the Cowboys at 7:30pm CT; the Mountaineers get TCU at 4pm.