ARLINGTON, Texas – Janson Reeder hit a two-out grand slam in the seventh inning Wednesday afternoon to propel Kansas to a 6-3 win over top-seeded Texas during the opening day of play at the Big 12 Championship at Globe Life Field.
The 1st-team All-Big 12 selection clubbed a 94 mile-per-hour fastball into the seats on a full count pitch from Travis Sthele to break a 2-2 tie and put the Jayhawks up for good in the first round matchup. Right-handed reliever Thaniel Trumper then came on to pitch the final three innings, allowing just one run in the ninth, and earning a save in relief of starter Collin Baumgartner, who earned his sixth win of the season, tossing six innings of two run ball.
With the win over No. 13 Texas, the eighth-seeded Jayhawks (25-30) will now play TCU at 4 p.m., on Thursday in a winner’s bracket game, with the winner advancing to Saturday’s semifinals. Wednesday’s win marked KU’s first Big 12 Tournament win since a 15-14 win over Kansas State in 11 innings in 2019 and its first win over a No. 1 seed in the tournament since a 2018 win over Texas.
“I’m super proud of the effort of our guys today,” Coach Dan Fitzgerald said. “We fought all year. We have a really cohesive, together group and they’ve been awesome since August. So, I’m not surprised we came out and played with a lot of passion and energy and fire. I’m really, really proud of the effort.”
The Jayhawks got on the scoreboard first Wednesday in the top of the third inning when they got to the Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, Lucas Gordon. With one on and one out, leadoff man Mike Koszewski singled through the right side to put runners on the corners with one out for Chase Jans.
Jans lifted a sacrifice fly to right to score Collier Cranford and give him 50 RBIs for the season. After Koszewski swiped second base, Big 12 Co-Freshman of the Year Kodey Shojinaga singled to left to score Koszewski and make it 2-0 in favor of the Jayhawks.
Texas got one run back in the bottom half of the inning when Jack O’Dowd hit a solo home run to right. But the inning ended on consecutive strong defensive plays, including catcher Jake English throwing Jared Thomas out at second and Jans diving to catch the third out of the inning.
KU remained ahead 2-1 until Texas tied it up in the sixth inning on an RBI single from Porter Brown.
But the Jayhawks answered right back after Brown’s hit tied it up. In the seventh, Cranford singled with one out and Koszewski walked to put two on. After a groundout, Texas walked Shojinaga to load the bases with two outs for Reeder, who entered the game second on the team in home runs with 11.
Reeder worked a full count before his blast to right gave Kansas the lead and electrified the Jayhawk faithful in attendance.
Trumper worked a scoreless seventh and eighth, before giving up one run in the ninth. But a strikeout to Rylan Galvan ended the game and gave the Jayhawks their 25th win of the season.
• Kansas knocked off a No. 1 seed in the conference tournament for the first time since 2018 when No. 8 Kansas defeated No. 1 Texas 3-2 on May 23, 2018.
• Reeder, an All-Big 12 First Team selection, hit his first career grand slam and matched his career high of four RBIs.
• Shojinaga, the Big 12 Freshman of the Year, had three hits in his first career conference tournament game.
• Baumgartner has four quality starts in his last five outings. He is 3-0 with a 1.88 ERA in his last five starts.
Kansas advances to the winner’s side of the bracket and plays TCU on Thursday afternoon at 4 p.m. CT at Globe Life Field. The winner will advance to Saturday’s semifinals, while the losing team will play in an elimination game on Friday at 3 p.m. CT against the winner of K-State and Texas. Thursday’s game will be televised on ESPNU.