Kansas baseball’s run at Big 12 Tournament ends. There was controversy and late drama

Kansas baseball couldn’t pull off an upset over No. 1 seed Oklahoma in the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament, falling 8-6 on Friday at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

Oklahoma’s Jackson Nicklaus ended KU’s tournament run with a two-run walk-off home run against KU relief pitcher Cooper Moore.

The Jayhawks raced out to a 6-0 lead within the first two innings — and held that lead through four. The Sooners had only four hits in that time.

But Kansas starter J’Briell Easley, who was strong early, began to falter in the fifth. He surrendered a two-run home run to OU’s Jaxon Willits and gave up another single before he was replaced by Tegan Cain.

Easley pitched 4 2/3 innings, surrendering six hits and three earned runs. He struck out 11 batters. After Easley’s exit, the Sooners tacked on three more runs in the fifth. The Jayhawks led 6-5.

Willits once again came through for OU in the sixth, doubling off Cain to bring in the tying run with one out.

Kansas had several opportunities to add to the early lead — or regain it late — but never did. The Jayhawks stranded 14 runners on base.

KU beats TCU, but not without some drama

Before the OU game, the Jayhawks had to defeat TCU to advance to the semifinal.

After squandering a nine-run lead, Kansas baseball managed to hang on and defeat the Horned Frogs 11-10 in a Big 12 Tournament elimination game that was also played on Friday.

Kansas’ Jake English had the winning run, a solo home run in the bottom of the eighth to break a 10-10 tie.

The game had some controversy, too.

In the third inning, TCU’s Sam Myers laid down a bunt, but the umpire ruled Myers out as he thought the ball hit Myers while he was running toward first base.

Then, the umpires changed the call — Myers was safe — after a crew discussion. Kansas manager Dan Fitzgerald went out to argue with the umpires about the call.

Fitzgerald later explained his team’s point of view on the ESPN+ broadcast.

“When he called him out, our guys just jogged toward the ball being that he was called out,” Fitzgerald said. “Then they got together and they didn’t think it hit him.”

The play had bigger implications. The Jayhawks still led 9-3 following the lengthy stoppage and review. TCU, a couple batters later, hit a three-run home run to cut the margin to 9-6. The play would’ve only represented the first out but could’ve changed how the Jayhawks pitched in that situation.

Naturally, Fitzgerald wasn’t pleased

“My argument was, I don’t know how we can give a guy a base when we’re not given the opportunity to make a play when you call a guy out,” he said. “ It would be kind of weird to call a guy out, run in and throw it. The only way to get it right at that point is to protest it. That’s why they draw the ‘P’ in the air and run back.

“I don’t know who they talked to or whatever, but I’ve never seen that before on a baseball field. A guy is called out and then awarded the base that way. Anyway, we’ll keep playing and obviously, wish it had been different.”