Jayhawks Face Western Illinois in Home Opener Sunday

March 2, 2007


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The University of Kansas baseball team will play its home opener on Sunday afternoon when the Jayhawks host Western Illinois in a doubleheader beginning at noon at Hoglund Ballpark. The teams were scheduled to play a single game on Saturday, however that game has been cancelled due to inclement weather. <?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

Scouting the Leathernecks

After facing Oral Roberts on Tuesday, the Jayhawks will play host to another Mid-Con school in the 6-5 Leathernecks. Western Illinois is coming off a three-game sweep at Oklahoma. WIU lost by a single run in two of the three contests, including a 1-0 decision Friday.

Junior Brett Pendall is WIU’s leading hitter with a .511 batting average, 17 runs scored and six doubles. Junior catcher Peter Schneider leads the team with three home runs and a .750 slugging percentage.

On the mound, right-handed senior Rob Johnson is 2-0 with a 4.91 ERA in four starts. Johnson has 13 strikeouts and five walks in 18.1 innings. Out of the bullpen, junior righty Todd Nelson has been a key man, posting an 0.68 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 13.1 innings of work.

Head coach Stan Hyman is in his sixth season at WIU and has an overall record of 128-184 at the school and 306-290-1 in 13-plus seasons as a collegiate coach. Hyman’s team returns 15 starters and five position players from last year’s squad which finished 32-32 and second in the Mid-Con.

KU is 12-0 all-time against Western Illinois, including a three-game sweep in Lawrence last season.

Last Time Out

KU fell in a mid-week non-conference game at Oral Roberts. Junior John Allman led the Jayhawks’ offense, going 2-for-4, while senior Kyle Murphy went 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored. Freshman Robby Price was 1-for-4, driving in KU’s only run of the contest.

Get Your Radio On

The first game of Sunday’s twinbill with Western Illinois will mark the first time this season that the Jayhawks will be broadcast on the radio in Lawrence. The game will be broadcast on KLWN (1320-AM) as well as on KU’s student-run station KJHK (90.7-FM).

KLWN will broadcast at least 29 regular season games this season. Veteran play-by-play man Brian Hanni will call the action while KAB Hall of Famer, Tom Hedrick will serve as the color commentator.

Jayhawks Add Games to Schedule

KU head coach Ritch Price announced that the team has added a pair of games to the non-conference schedule to make up for the three games lost in the cancelled North Dakota State series.

The Jayhawks will now face neighboring Tabor College at 4 p.m. on Tuesday and play host to Baker College at 5 p.m., Wednesday evening. Both games will be at Hoglund Ballpark.

Allman Finds His Stroke

Junior left fielder John Allman feasted on Stanford pitching over the weekend and continued his hot hitting against Oral Roberts on Tuesday. Allman recorded his third straight multi-hit game Tuesday, going 2-for-4 against the Golden Eagles.

He is working on a six-game hitting streak. During the streak Allman is batting .519 (14-for-27) with three doubles and five RBIs. Allman is currently tied for third in the Big 12 with a .419 batting average.

Murphy Stays Hot

Senior center fielder Kyle Murphy continued his hot hitting, collecting a career-high four hits in Sunday’s 7-6 loss at Stanford.

The center fielder, who was known more for his defense than his bat last year, is second on the team with a .364 batting average. Last season, the 5-foot-11 senior batted just .156 and had 16 hits the entire season.

This year, Murphy has 12 hits in his first 33 at-bats. He is also tied for the team lead with five extra base hits.

Smyth Remain Perfect

A big reason for KU’s 7-5 start has been the performance of sophomore Paul Smyth out of the bullpen.

Smyth, the team’s closer, has allowed just three hits in 7.2 innings and leads the team with a pair of saves. Opponents are batting .125 against the 5-foot-11 righty. Last season Smyth led the team with 36 appearances.

Welcome to the Show

Two players made their Jayhawk debuts in Tuesday’s 9-1 loss at Oral Roberts. Redshirt freshman Kevin Bedford and junior transfer Joe Southers both saw action for the first time in 2007.

Bedford pinch hit for Justin Ellrich in the ninth inning, while Southers caught the bottom of the eighth and came to bat in the ninth.

Around the Horn

– KU was swept in a three-game series for the first time since May 5-7 of last season when the team was swept by Texas in Austin.

– Sophomore Preston Land hit his first home run of the season in last Friday’s 6-5 loss. Last season, Land hit nine homers and drove in 33 runs.

– Junior Ryne Price went 3-for-11 in the Stanford series, collecting a pair of hits in the finale. Price scored on a sac fly in the ninth to bring the Jayhawks to within one run.

– Junior Erik Morrison collected three hits in the first game of the Stanford series and was also hit by pitch three times in the series. Morrison is now sixth in team history, having been hit by pitch 21 times.

– Freshman Robby Price picked up four hits in the Stanford series, including two in Saturday’s 4-1 loss. He drove in KU’s only run of the 9-1 loss to Oral Roberts.

– Sophomore Nick Czyz had his first quality start of the season, going 6.1 innings Saturday, scattering eight hits and three runs. The 6-foot-0 lefty did not walk anybody and struck out five.

– Junior transfer Hiarali Garcia retired the side in the eighth inning, striking out a pair of Cardinal hitters on Saturday. He also pitched an inning of scoreless relief against Oral Roberts on Tuesday. The junior righty has a 1.69 ERA in four appearances this season and is one of two Jayhawks to record a save.

– Senior Ryotaro Hayakawa also pitched a scoreless inning of relief in Tuesday’s game. The 5-foot-8 righty struck out two of the four hitters he faced.

Wally’s World

KU freshman Wally Marciel enjoyed a homecoming in the second game of the Feb. 2 doubleheader against Hawaii-Hilo. The Kailua, Hawaii native made his first collegiate start in his home state, in front of a large gathering of family members. Marciel didn’t disappoint, picking up the win for the Jayhawks. The 6-foot-2 lefty went five innings, allowing two runs on three hits, while striking out six at Wong Memorial Stadium.

Series Shifts to Minneapolis

KU’s three-game series against South Dakota State was played at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis. The unusual starting times for the three contests was due to the Hurricane Winter Invitational which was already scheduled in the dome that weekend. The invitational featured NCAA Division II and NAIA teams from neighboring states.

The Jayhawks and Jackrabbits opened play on Saturday morning with a doubleheader at 1:30 a.m. The second game of the twinbill was suspended due to time constraints and completed Sunday morning at 3:30 a.m., prior to the third game of the series.

The Metrodome is the first of two major league parks that KU will visit during the 2007 season. The team will play at Kaufman Stadium later this year.

Land-ing a Preseason Honor

KU first baseman Preston Land was named Preseason All-Big 12 by Baseball America prior to the start of the season. Land, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, hit .314 last season with nine home runs and 33 RBIs. He set the KU freshman record in homers and tied the freshman school mark with 12 doubles. Land didn’t waste much time making a name for himself in the Jayhawks’ lineup, blasting a pair of homers in just his fourth collegiate start at Hawaii-Hilo in 2006.

Major League Bloodlines

Several players on the 2007 Jayhawk baseball team have relatives who have played in the major leagues. They include:
– Buck Afenir’s uncle, Troy Afenir, played in four major league seasons for Houston, Oakland and Cincinnati.
– Brett Bochy’s father, Bruce Bochy, played in the major leagues from 1978-87 for Houston, San Diego and the New York Mets. He also managed the Padres from 1995-2006, and is the current manager of the San Francisco Giants.
– Casey Larson’s father, Dan Larson, played in the major leagues from 1967-82. He played for Houston, Philadelphia and the Chicago Cubs.
– Joe Servais’ cousin, Scott Servais, played in the major leagues from 1991-2001 for Houston, Colorado, San Francisco and the Chicago Cubs.

Oh, Brother

A handful of Jayhawks have also followed older siblings onto the KU baseball team. They include:
– Nick Czyz’ older brother Don pitched at KU from 2003-06. Don was drafted by the Florida Marlins after last season.
– Preston Land’s brother, Sean, pitched for the Jayhawks from 2004-06. Sean was drafted by the Minnesota Twins at the conclusion of the 2006 season.
– Ryne and Robby Price’s older brother, Ritchie, also played at KU from 2003-06. Ritchie was drafted by the New York Mets last season.

Up Next

The Jayhawks will play host to NAIA schools Tabor and Baker on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. The pair of home contests will precede KU’s visit to No. 5 Arkansas on March 9-11.

Season Tickets On Sale

Kansas Baseball season tickets are still available for purchase. For more information, please call 800-34-HAWKS or log on to kuathletics.com.