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    Furious Rally Falls Short for Northwestern in Extra Innings

    Feb. 21, 2014

    Game Photo
    Kansas Jayhawks Kansas 14, Northwestern 10 (11 inn.) (15)
    Snowbird Classic • North Charlotte Regional Park • Port Charlotte, Fla.

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    PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Northwestern staged a furious rally late to take its first lead of the ballgame after eight innings, but Kansas clawed back to topple the Wildcats in 11 innings Friday, 14-10.

    Northwestern scored three times in the bottom of the seventh and five more times in the bottom of the eighth to secure a 10-9 lead, its first of the afternoon at North Charlotter Regional Park. The 'Cats trailed by as many as six runs at 8-2 heading into that bottom of the seventh.

    The Jayhawks held the upper had when they struck early on in the afternoon affair Friday. Kansas scored five times in the first inning off NU starting pitcher Brandon Magallones, with the biggest blow coming in the form of a three-run home run off the bat of Tucker Tharp.

    Northwestern eventually got its offense into gear in the bottom of the fourth inning. Catcher Scott Heelan drew a leadoff and Zach Jones followed with a base hit through the right side. Clean-up batter Joe Hoscheit flared a single into right field to load the bases for third baseman Nick Linne. The Naperville, Ill., native, put a charge into Wes Benjamin's offering; the ball barely stayed in the ballpark, but it was plenty deep enough to allow Heelan to tag up and score Northwestern's first run of the day.

    Freshman Matt Hopfner was the next man at the dish and he laced a single into left field that brought Jones home and cut the deficit to three runs, 5-3. NU second baseman Jake Straub, making his first career start at the position, and shortstop Cody Stevens flied out to end the threat.

    In the top of the sixth inning, the Jayhawks picked up a pair of unearned runs to build the lead back up to five runs. Tharp reached on NU's defensive miscue with two outs and moved from first to third on a single by Ka'iana Eldredge. Tharp and Eldredge both came in to score on a single by designated hitter Joven Afenir.

    After Kansas added to its total with a run in the top of the seventh, the Wildcats came roaring back. Hopfner began the rally with a lead-off single up the middle and he eventually scored on a wild pitch when Walker Moses was at the ditch. Stevens, who moved to second on the ill-thrown pitch, scored when Moses one-hopped a double to the wall in left field. Moses' hit made it 8-4 in favor of KU, but the inning wasn't finished yet.

    Kansas made a pitching change, bringing in right-hander Colin Toalson. NU head coach Paul Stevens went to his bench as well, tapping big left-handed batter Jack Livingston. The Kalamazoo, Mich., native answered the bell and clubbed a double to deep right centerfield to slice the deficit to three. Heelan flied out and Jones lined to second to end the frame.

    KU scored another run in its half of the eighth inning to go up 9-5. Northwestern responded with its most prolific inning of the young season, scoring five times to nab its first lead of the ballgame. Hoscheit walked to start the parade before Linne reached on a fielder's choice. Hopfner singled for his third hit of the ballgame before Straub laced a single to left field that brought Linne home. Stevens followed that up with a RBI single and Moses reached on a bunt single to load the bases.

    Livingston walked on a full count with the bases loaded to drive in his second run of the contest. Heelan finally gave his team the lead with a base hit up the middle that plated both Stevens and Moses and gave Northwestern a 10-9 lead.

    The Jayhawks picked up the necessary run to tie the game, but they could not take the lead in the top of ninth. The Wildcats went down in order in their last at-bat, so for the third times in four games this season, Northwestern needed extra innings to decide the outcome.

    KU appeared poised to take the lead in the top of the 10th, but Northwestern's defense had other ideas. The 'Cats executed a successful 6-5-4-6 rundown for the second out before Linne, Jones and Heelan teamed up to nail down the final out. With a runner on second base, Linne made a great diving stab on a ball hit by Connor McKay. The senior rose to his feet and threw across the diamond to Jones, but the runner was safe. Michael Suiter was charging for home on the play, but Jones fired to Heelan at the dish to cut him down and end the inning.

    Livingston and Heelan each singled with one down in the bottom of the 10th, but the Wildcats could not win the game at that point.

    Kansas took advantage of NU's misfortune and scratched out four runs in the top of the 11th to dictate the final margin.

    Jordan Piché picked up the win for Kansas, while Livingston was saddled with his first loss of the season. After a rocky first inning, Magallones settled down and surrendered only two unearned runs over the next five frames. The junior finished with one strikeout in his second start of the season.

    Hopfner had a career-high three hits, while Moses matched his previous personal best (for the fifth time) with three hits of his own. Through two starts as a collegian, Hopfner is batting .500 (5-for-10) with two RBI and two runs scored.

    The Wildcats will continue the Snowbird Classic with a pair of games on Saturday, Feb. 22. Northwestern will open the morning against Nebraska-Omaha at 9 a.m. CT before taking on Mississippi Valley State at approximately 12:30 p.m. Sophomore Matt Portland will get the ball for NU in game one and freshman Joe Schindler is slated to make his first collegiate start for the 'Cats in the nightcap.

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