• Comment

Jayhawks also sent home early, await NCAA fate

No. 3 seed Kansas was eliminated in the first game of the day

Posted: May 22, 2014 - 10:43pm  |  Updated: May 23, 2014 - 12:07am
Get your A-J Media Digital Subscription now!

Texas Tech wasn’t the first team sent home from the Big 12 Championships on Thursday, and its loss might not be the costliest.

No. 3 seed Kansas was eliminated in the first game of the day, also by a desperate team. Needing to win the tournament to earn an NCAA berth, Baylor jumped out to a 4-1 lead and held on to win 4-3.

“One of the things I told our players before the game was they have one of the most successful Division I programs in the country and that they were going to come to play today,” Kansas coach Ritch Price said. “Their young men pitched well against us and made some big play for them today, which led to them getting the win and us losing.”

And by losing, the Jayhawks, who came into the tournament as a solid No. 2 seed in NCAA projections, will have to wait to see what kind of damage was done to their NCAA hopes. KU finished third in the No. 2 RPI conference in the country behind the SEC, and entered Thursday with an RPI of 39.

“In the 12 years I’ve been in the Big 12 one of the things I respect the most is how great our league truly is,” Price said. “Every time you walk onto that field you can get beat any day of the week. No team in our league has ever finished third and not made the tournament, so I believe we’re in good shape. But we just have to wait and see what happens.”

Baylor coach Steve Smith, often one of the more outspoken proponents for the Big 12, said it would be a slap at Kansas and the league if the Jayhawks were omitted from the NCAA tournament.

“The committee doesn’t have an excuse on Kansas,” Smith said. “I really believe strongly that the regular season is the body of work by which you judge a team being worthy or not.”

That ought to help Tech, too, if that’s the case.

Depth in the pen

Even though Texas has found its offensive rhythm the last four games, the team continues to be led by its pitching.

The Longhorns came into the Big 12 Championships with the No. 2 pitching staff in the league at a 2.40 ERA. Depth is the Longhorns’ biggest strength, and head coach Augie Garrido plans on keeping it that way.

UT is the only team in the field that had to play its final regular season game on Sunday. All the others played Thursday-Saturday series while the Longhorns played Friday-Sunday at Kansas State, which didn’t qualify for the tournament.

Starter Lukas Schiraldi went 51/3 innings in Texas’ 8-3 win over Texas Tech late Wednesday night, allowing a run on four hits. Reliever Chad Hollingsworth allowed two runs on four hits in 32/3 innings.

The rest of the tournament will be up to everyone else, because Garrido has bigger goals in mind.

“When we get ready to go wherever we are going — most likely we’re going to be on the road somewhere — we have to be fully loaded with our pitching,” Garrido said. “Hollingsworth won’t pitch again in this tournament. Luke won’t pitch again in this tournament. We have some quality relief pitchers and they are going to have to do it. But we’re not going to overuse anybody to push through and win this tournament.”

george.watson@lubbockonline.com

• 766-2166

Follow George on Twitter

@AJJorge

  • Comment