Kansas Baseball to Host Northern Colorado

Feb. 24, 2005

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The University of Kansas baseball team is back in action at home for the second weekend in a row as it plays host to the Northern Colorado Bears at Hoglund Ballpark this weekend.

The teams are slated to begin the series with a 3 p.m. first pitch and will conclude the series with a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at Noon.

The Jayhawks (10-3) are currently riding a four game winning streak after sweeping South Dakota State in their home-opening series last week. Junior shortstop Ritchie Price is leading the team offensively with a .423 batting average and 13 RBI and tops a list of six Jayhawks who are currently hitting over .400 this season. Price and junior outfielder Matt Baty enter the week tied for the Big 12 lead with 22 hits this season.

In the four game series with South Dakota State, Kansas outscored the Jackrabbits 50-10 and limited SDSU to a team batting average of .209.

On the hill, senior pitcher Mike Zagurski is coming off one of his most impressive performances as a Jayhawk. In the series finale against SDSU, Zagurski fanned 11 batters and pitched seven innings to pick up his second win of the season. Junior Kodiak Quick earned the win in the series opener against the Jackrabbits to improve his record this season to 3-0 and his ERA to 1.23.

Northern Colorado comes to Lawrence with an 0-6 record after being swept in its first two series against No. 11 Arizona and Creighton. The Bears are hitting .223 as a team and enter the weekend with a team ERA of 11.88.

Site: Hoglund Ballpark (2,500) — Lawrence Kan.

Game times (CST): Friday (Feb. 25) – 3 p.m., Saturday (Feb. 26) – Noon (DH)

Rankings: Kansas is receiving votes in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Division I Baseball Poll. Northern Colorado enters the series unranked.

The Coaches: Kansas head coach Ritch Price is 76-62-1 in his third year at KU and 293-290-1 in his 11th overall year of coaching. UNC’s Kevin Smallcomb is in his third season at UNC. He enters the series with a career record of 63-50 as a head coach.

The Series: This will be the first meeting between the schools on the baseball diamond.

A Closer Look at Northern Colorado

The Bears return 19 letterwinners and six starters from last season’s team which went 29-23.

Offensively, senior first baseman Phil Delich is the only Bear with a batting average above .300, as he has collected eight hits in 22 trips to the plate to post a .364 clip this season. Senior infielder Craig Troxell and sophomore catcher John Ray have each driven in four runs this season to lead UNC in that category. The Bears have been outscored 72-21 this season.

On the hill, the UNC pitching staff has yielded 66 earned runs in 50.0 innings pitched this season for a team ERA of 11.88.Opposing hitters are posting a .386 batting average at the plate against Bear pitching.

Head coach Kevin Smallcomb is in his third season at the helm of the Bears and has compiled a 62-50 overall record.

UNC/KU Connections

Bears assistant coach Chris Forbes graduated from Kansas in 1999 and transferring from Colorado State after CSU disbanded its baseball program. Northern Colorado Director of Athletics Jay S. Hinrichs is a Kansas graduate (1980) and worked at KU before taking the UNC job in September.

Kansas Coach Ritch Price on the Upcoming Series

“I think that we are playing well at this point in the season, we played competitive against Stanford and we are starting pick to up the pitching and improve in the bull pin. One thing that I would like to do is to play better defense. If we want to be competitive in the Big 12 we need to tighten up and play better defense. We just want to go out and play better than we did last week.”

Kansas Baseball Notes

Returning Firepower

A year ago, the Jayhawks led the Big 12 with a .316 team batting average and set a school-record with 74 long balls. The 2005 Jayhawks will not be short of offensive firepower. Despite the loss of seniors Ryan Baty and Matt Tribble as well as junior Travis Metcalf, KU returns 62% of its offense from a year ago, including seven players who hit over .300 in 2004.

Highlighting the returners are the reigning team MVP — senior catcher Sean Richardson, the team’s first-ever first team All-Big 12 selection — junior outfielder Matt Baty, and one of the Big 12’s top shortstops — junior Ritchie Price. Richardson, earned second team Big 12 honors in his first season in Lawrence a year ago by hitting .332 with 12 home runs and a team-high 69 RBI. Out of the leadoff spot, Baty was able to collect a .344 batting average and a .436 on base percentage. The junior from Wichita, Kan., also collected 21 extra-base hits while leading the team with 62 runs scored. Price returns for the `05 season as a three-year starter for the `Hawks at shortstop. A season ago he posted a .954 fielding percentage in 281 chances at shortstop. At the plate Price was equally impressive, compiling a .339 average, including a .448 clip with runners in scoring position.

Junior outfielder A.J. Van Slyke returns after posting a .360 average in 2004, which includes a .400 mark during Big 12 games. Over the summer Van Slyke was selected as a Summer All-American by Baseball America after he was named the Central Illinois Collegiate Baseball League Player of the Year. Senior Andy Scholl moves in from the outfield to play first base after batting .301 and collecting seven home runs and 47 RBI last season. Infielders Jared Schweitzer and Travis Dunlap each posted above .300 batting averages a season ago and combined for 10 home runs and 31 RBI.

New Look Pitching Staff

Head coach Ritch Price and KU pitching coach Steve Abney enter the season with a new-look pitching staff and something the coaching staff lacked a year ago — confidence in the team’s starting rotation.

The Jayhawks enter 2005 with four legitimate starters, who the coaching staff feel give the team a chance to win on any given day. Seniors Mike Zagurski and Clint Schambach, join junior Kodiak Quick and sophomore Sean Land to give Price the best depth in his starting rotation since coming to Kansas prior to the 2003 season.

Zagurski is a steady performer who tallied a 4-4 record with a 4.81 ERA and 70 strikeouts a season ago on his way to honorable mention Big 12 accolades. Schambach showed improvement in the fall after making 10 starts and posting a 4-3 mark in 2004. Land, who Abney feels has the best stuff on the staff, collected a 4-2 record and 5.76 ERA in 25 appearances as a freshman last year. Quick joins KU this season after pitching the last two seasons at Stanford. During his Cardinal career, Quick posted a 3-0 record with four saves and 54 strikeouts in 63.1 innings pitched.

Jayhawks Sweep Season-Opening Series

The Jayhawks traveled to Hawaii-Hilo to kick-off the 2005 season with high expectations and did not leave the Aloha State disappointed, taking all six games of the series with the Vulcans.

Kansas’ 6-0 start was the best since 2002 when the team started the season 10-0. The six wins also gave KU its first series sweep since taking all three games from Kansas State in the final series of the 2004 season.

Baty Honored by the Big 12

After posting a strong performance in the Jayhawks’ season opening road trip, University of Kansas junior outfielder Matt Baty was honored on Tuesday by being named the first Big 12 Player of the Week for the 2005 season.

The Wichita, Kan., native emerged as one of the Jayhawks’ leading hitters to begin the season, posting a .400 batting average and a team-high 10 RBI in the team’s first eight games.

Last season, Baty became the first Jayhawk to ever be named first team All-Big 12 after compiling a .344 batting average with two home runs and 30 RBI while leading the team with 62 runs scored and 26 stolen bases.

Jayhawks Break Out the Brooms Against SDSU

Kansas earned its second series sweep of the season by taking all four games from South Dakota State in the team’s home-opening series at Hoglund Ballpark.
The four wins pushed KU’s overall record to 10-3, making them the first team in the Big 12 to reach the 10 win mark during the 2005 season.

During the series, Kansas outscored the Jackrabbits 50-10 and collected a .345 team batting average and 1.50 team ERA during the series.

Senior pitcher Mike Zagurski fanned a career-high 11 strikeouts in the series finale, while junior Kodiak Quick picked up the win in the series opener to improve to 3-0 this season.

Zagurski Collects Career-High 11 Strikeouts

Senior left-handed pitcher Mike Zagurksi continued his impressive start to the 2005 season by setting a new career-high is strikeouts on Feb. 18 against South Dakota State.

The Omaha, Neb., native struck out 11 Jackrabbits batters while yielding only one earned run and two walks to earn his second win of the season. Zagurski’s previous career-high in strikeouts had been nine which he set against Arkansas-Little Rock on March 14, 2004.