Jayhawks Host Iowa in Sunday Doubleheader
Feb. 27, 2011
Games 4-5: Iowa at Kansas
Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011
Hoglund Ballpark (2,500)Lawrence, Kan.
Live Audio:(Game One Only) – KU-Iowa
Gametracker:Game One | Game Two
Despite winter weather in the Lawrence area, Kansas baseball will continue its February homestand with a doubleheader against Iowa beginning at 1 p.m. Sunday. The teams will play the second game at approximately 30 minutes following the completion of game one.
Live audio will be available for the first game on Sunday at www.kuathletics.com. Veteran play-by-play man Tom Hedrick and will call the game along with Kyle West.
KU is 11-7 all-time against Iowa, in a series which dates back to 1900. Sunday’s contests will mark the first two of three games scheduled between the schools this season. KU is slated to face the Hawkeyes in Iowa City on April 12. Kansas head coach Ritch Price is 6-1 against Iowa, including three wins in a four-game series last season in Lawrence early in the year. The Jayhawks and Hawkeyes will now have met four-straight seasons after going 13 years between games in series from 1995 to 2008.
About the Jayhawks
Kansas dropped its home opener for the first time in the Ritch Price era, falling to Creighton 4-3 in 10 innings on Tuesday. KU’s offense is looking to break out with a .146 team batting average through four games, while the pitching has been pretty good, with a 4.50 ERA.
Sophomore Jake Marasco leads the team with a .308 batting average and a .438 on-base percentage. On the mound, closer Colton Murray claimed the team’s only win with six strikeouts in seven innings of relief.
Scouting the Hawkeyes
Iowa is looking to turn things around after a rough start to the season at the Big Ten/Big East Challenge in Clearwater, Fla. The Hawkeyes dropped all three of their games, losing to West Virginia (5-0), Pittsburgh (3-2) and Seton Hall (2-0).
Like Kansas, Iowa’s offense has had trouble producing runs early on. The Hawkeyes have averaged 5.3 hits per game, but have scored just two runs in their three losses. Senior Kurt Lee leads Iowa’s offense with a .429 batting average with two doubles and a run scored. He is the only Iowa regular hitting above .300.
The Hawkeyes have a 2.89 team ERA with 11 walks and 24 strikeouts in 28 innings. KU will likely face junior lefty Jarred Hippen and junior righty Nick Brown on Sunday. Brown held Pittsburgh to two runs on five hits over 6 1/3 innings in his first start, while Hippen surrendered 11 hits and five runs to West Virginia in his first start.
Iowa head coach Jack Dahm is in his eighth season at the school and has a 170-219 record with the Hawkeyes. Iowa finished 30-28 last year to tie for third in the Big Ten.
Last Time Out
James Stanfield went 2-for-4, while freshman Alex Cox allowed one earned run in 4 1/3 innings in his collegiate debut, but it was not enough. Creighton’s Alex Staehely had an RBI triple following a lead-off walk in the top of the 10th as the Bluejays stunned Kansas, 4-3 in 10 innings Tuesday at Hoglund Ballpark.
No Cause for Concern
While the Jayhawks have yet to find their groove at the plate this season, getting off to a slow start should not be cause for alarm. Over the last three years – when the Jayhawks have won 30-plus games each year – the team has needed a few weeks to get going.
Since 2008, KU has a record of 9-12 in February games and a batting average of just .227 in those contests with 183 strikeouts. Compare that to KU’s record of 43-22 with a .305 batting average in March games during that timespan.
Kansas sophomore Jake Marasco is KU’s leading hitter through four games, but more impressively has been his plate discipline. In 16 plate appearances this year,
Marasco has drawn a pair of walks and been hit by a pitch, compared to just eight walks in 124 plate appearances last year. The sophomore third baseman has also seen an average of 3.75 pitches per at bat.
While the Jayhawks dropped their first two games of the series at No. 1 TCU, one of the bright spots was the mound debut of senior Nolan Mansfield. In the right-hander’s first outing, Mansfield held the nation’s top team scoreless on two hits over four innings.
The senior from Voorhees, N.J., came to the team last season as a walk-on and was expected to be used as a backup catcher/outfielder. However, he impressed the coaches enough in fall practice to give him a shot on the mound. He didn’t disappoint in his debut, hitting 90 mph a few times against TCU.
– Kansas was scheduled to host the Salty Iguana Jayhawk Classic this weekend, but weather forced the cancellation of two days of the tournament. This would have been KU’s first home tournament since 2006.
– KU will face Iowa from the Big Ten in a doubleheader on Sunday. The Jayhawks are 25-24 all-time against current members of the Big Ten, including 11-3 under head coach Ritch Price.
– Kansas dropped its home opener for the first time since 1998 on Tuesday. The loss at Hoglund Ballpark was also just KU’s third against a non-conference foe since the beginning of the 2008 season.
– Ritch Price will coach his 500th game at Kansas on Sunday, making him just the second Jayhawk skipper to manage 500 games at the school. Long-time head coach Floyd Temple is the school leader with 839 games coached from 1954-81.
– KU’s starting pitching has been pretty good so far this season. After senior T.J. Walz allowed seven earned runs in four innings on opening night, the Jayhawks’ other starting pitchers have allowed just six earned runs in 15 1/3 innings (3.52 ERA) since then.
Creighton Game Leftovers
– The Jayhawks’ 10-inning loss to Creighton on Tuesday marked the first time since 2009 that KU played extra innings in back-to-back games.
– Kansas collected four of its five hits in the game in fourth inning.
– The Jayhawks’ loss to Creighton marked KU’s first defeat in the series since 2000, when the Bluejays scored a 5-3 win in Lawrence.
– Creighton’s 4-3 extra inning win marked the fourth-straight meeting between the schools that was decided by one run.
– Kansas first baseman Zac Elgie recorded his second-straight game with both an RBI and an extra base hit. He did this just four times last season.
– Kansas senior pitcher T.J. Walz made his first relief appearance since Feb. 25, 2009 at Arkansas, and just the 11th of his college career.
– Kansas sophomore Thomas Taylor did not allow a walk in 3 2/3 innings of relief. This marked the ninth time in his last 13 appearances that an opponent has not drawn a free pass from Taylor.
Beating the Best
KU’s win over top-ranked TCU on Feb. 20 marked the third-straight season that Kansas has defeated a No. 1-ranked team. It also improved the Jayhawks to 7-5 against top-ranked teams since 1992.
Kansas head coach Ritch Price moved to 6-3 against No. 1-ranked teams in his career at KU. In 2009, the Jayhawks swept then-No. 1 Texas in a three-game series at Hoglund Ballpark, while last season KU took two-of-three from then-No. 1 LSU in Baton Rouge, La.
Kansas will wrap up its homestand Tuesday against Southern Utah at 3 p.m. at Hoglund Ballpark. KU will then participate in the Coca-Cola Classic in Surprise, Ariz., competing against UC-Riverside (Thursday, 5 p.m.), Bakersfield (Friday, 5 p.m.), Arizona State (Saturday, 6 p.m.) and Air Force (Sunday, 11 a.m.).