Even if you’re a die-hard Jayhawks fan and bleed crimson and blue for all sports, you may not have college baseball on your radar just yet. If you’re focused on the current exploits of Jeff Withey and Ben McLemore at Allen Fieldhouse or the junior college recruiting bonanza that Charlie Weis has going on for the football team, it’s certainly understandable.
So in case you missed it, Saturday the Kansas Jayhawks baseball team landed in Santo Domingo to kick off an eight day journey of the hardball hotbed that is the Dominican Republic.On Sunday they played a pair of games at the Kansas City Royals academy in Boca Chica beating the Royals players assembled there 6-5 in the morning and 8-4 in the afternoon. Monday they topped the Royals 9-5 and were triumphant again yesterday by a score of 3-2. Today they fell to the Indians Dominican Academy by a score of 3-1 and were limited to just three hits.
Through five games in four days, the Jayhawks have played to a record of 4-1. Senior RHP Tanner Poppe turned in the best start of the trip when he pitched 5.0 innings of 2-hit, shutout ball while striking out nine yesterday. Jordan Dreiling, Connor McKay, Dakota Smith and Tucker Tharpe have all had good showings thus far.
Kansas will play two more games against the Indians Academy team and will also have a game against a Dominican amateur team before they wrap things up and head home.
Of course the team is doing more than just sharpening their skills on the field and experiencing the wonders of Dominican baseball. They’re also gaining valuable lessons and insight into the world beyond Lawrence, Kansas. After their games on Saturday the team held a clinic for area youth and signed autographs. The following day they visited an orphanage and yesterday they handed out health kits in a sugar cane village. Given the reality that over a third of the population in the Dominican Republic lives in poverty, I have little doubt that the Jayhawks will return to the states with a new appreciation for what they have as well as a newfound appreciation for the intrinsic value of helping others.