Jayhawks Head to Surprise for Coca Cola Classic

March 2, 2011

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After winning three games during its recent homestand, Kansas baseball hits the road to participate in the Coca Cola Surprise Classic in Surprise, Ariz. The Jayhawks will play four games in four days at the tournament, facing UC Riverside (Thursday, 5 p.m.), Cal State Bakersfield (Friday, 5 p.m.), No. 7 Arizona State (Saturday, 6 p.m.) and Air Force (Sunday, 11 a.m.).

Fans can follow all four games via Gametracker at KUAthletics.com. Audio from Saturday’s contest with Arizona State is available for a subscription fee at TheSunDevils.com.

Series History

Kansas will be meeting UC Riverside for the first time since 1968 and just the second time on the diamond. The Jayhawks have never met Cal State Bakersfield, while KU is 1-2 all-time against Arizona State and 1-0 against Air Force after facing both in 2009.

Kansas head coach Ritch Price is 6-3 all-time against UC Riverside going back to his days as head coach at Cal Poly.

About the Jayhawks

Kansas improved to 4-3 on Tuesday after sweeping Southern Utah in a doubleheader. The Jayhawks scored a season-high five runs in the second game of the twinbill, collecting eight hits. As a team, KU is batting .180 with sophomore Jake Marasco leading the way with a .348 batting average. On the mound, Tanner Poppe has posted a save with a 1.00 ERA in nine innings on the hill.

Scouting the Highlanders

UC Riverside opens the Coca Cola Classic at 5-4 after downing San Diego, 11-8 on Tuesday. The Highlanders have won four in a row after opening the season at 1-4.

UCR is batting .301 as a team and averaging 5.0 runs per game. Freshman outfielder David Andriese leads the team with a .448 batting average with three doubles and a .655 slugging percentage. Senior outfielder Tony Nix leads the team with nine RBIs in seven games, including three doubles, a homer and a .306 batting average.

KU will face junior righty Eddie Orozco on Thursday afternoon. Orozco is 0-1 with a 1.12 ERA after dropping a start to Loyola Marymount on Feb. 19. UCR’s pitching staff has a team ERA of 2.76 and has struck out 68 in 81 2/3 innings.

Head coach Doug Smith is in his sixth season at UCR, and has a record of 153-133 at the school.

Scouting the Roadrunners

Cal State Bakersfield is currently 6-2 after downing Valparaiso, 9-0 on Tuesday evening. The Roadrunners have also won five straight after dropping two of three to open the season at Washington State.

CSUB is batting .337 as a team with a .436 slugging percentage and a .408 on-base percentage. Junior catcher Jeremy Rodriguez leads the team with a .531 batting average, four doubles and a .595 on-base percentage. Freshman infielder Oscar Sanay leads the team with 12 RBIs and is battting .394 with three doubles in eight games.

KU will face junior lefty Jonathan Montoya Friday afternoon. Montoya is 1-0 with a 5.11 ERA in two starts this season. He tossed a complete game against Washington last Saturday, allowing one run on four hits with a walk and six strikeouts. As a team, CSUB has an ERA of 2.62 with 59 strikeouts in 72.0 innings.

Head coach Bill Kernen is in his third year at Cal State Bakersfield and owns a career mark of 44-71 at the school.

Scouting the Sun Devils

Arizona State enters the weekend tournament ranked No. 7 in the latest National Collegiate Baseball Writers’ Association (NCBWA) poll. The Sun Devils are 6-1 after taking three-of-four from Delaware last weekend.

ASU is batting .356 through seven games and is averaging 8.3 runs per game. Junior Austin Barnes leads the Sun Devils with a .529 batting average with two doubles, a triple and a .579 on-base percentage. Junior infielder Riccio Torrez is ASU’s top middle of the order threat, batting .355 with three doubles, three homers and 12 RBIs.

KU is scheduled to face left-handed junior Kyle Ottoson. The 6-foot-2 southpaw is 2-0 with a 1.38 ERA in two starts. Ottoson has been ASU’s most dominating pitcher, recording 16 strikeouts and just three walks in 13 innings this season. The Sun Devils have a team ERA of 2.43 and are holding opponents to a .212 batting average.

Head coach Tim Esmay is in his second year at Arizona State and is 58-11 with the Sun Devils.

Scouting the Falcons

Air Force will meet the Jayhawks to wrap up the Surprise Classic Sunday morning. The Falcons enter the weekend at 3-4 after dropping two in a three-game series against Navy last weekend.

The Falcons are hitting .280 as a team and are averaging 6.1 runs per game. Freshman outfielder Patrick Lobo leads the team with a .438 batting average with a triple and six RBIs. Senior first baseman Parker Mayo has a pair of homers and a .522 slugging percentage.

The Jayhawks will face junior lefty Michael Ceci Sunday morning. The 6-foot-4 southpaw is 1-1 this season after dropping a decision to Navy on Feb. 26. Ceci has a 4.09 ERA with two walks and three strikeouts in 11 innings pitched this season.

Major Mike Kazlausky is in his first year as the head coach at the Air Force Academy.

Last Time Out

Junior first baseman Zac Elgie went 2-for-4 with an RBI double, while sophomore pitcher Thomas Taylor scattered seven hits over 5 2/3 innings as Kansas completed a doubleheader sweep of Southern Utah, 5-1 in the nightcap Tuesday evening at Hoglund Ballpark.

Movin’ On Up

Like the Jeffersons, senior pitcher T.J. Walz keeps moving up in the Kansas record books. With his six-inning outing against Iowa Monday, Walz tied Kodiak Quick for sixth in career victories (21), moved into sixth in game started (38), ranks third in strikeouts (235) and eighth in innings pitched (249.1).

Diamond Notes

– Kansas will participate in neutral site games in Arizona for the third-straight season. Two years ago, KU took on Arizona State in Surprise, Ariz., and won the Saturday game in the three-game series. Last season, the Jayhawks swept three games in Peoria, Ariz.

– The Jayhawks went 5-4 in neutral site games last season, including 5-1 in the regular season.

– Kansas’ pitching staff was dominant during the recent homestand, posting a 1.46 ERA in four games and holding the opposition to a .214 batting average.

– Kansas starting pitchers have recorded quality starts in three of the last five games, while starters Alex Cox (4 1/3 IP, 1 ER) and Thomas Taylor (5 2/3 IP, 1 ER) were both solid in their outings.

– The Jayhawks rank second in the Big 12 in fielding percentage (.983) and are have committed the fewest errors (five) in the conference.

Southern Utah Leftovers

– Kansas swept both games of a doubleheader for the first time since sweeping Chicago State in a twinbill on April 28, 2009.

– The Jayhawks were hit by pitch seven times in the nightcap, including three HBPs by shortstop Brandon Macias. Macias tied the school record by being plunked three times in the game.

– Sophomore third baseman Jake Marasco went 3-for-4 in the first game of the doubleheader. It marked Marasco’s first game with three hits or more since going 4-for-4 against Iowa on March 7 last season.

– KU starting pitcher Wally Marciel tossed a career-best seven innings in the first game of the doubleheader Tuesday. His previous high of 6 1/3 came during his freshman year.

– Jayhawk closer Colton Murray protected a one-run lead in the first game to record his first save since May 18 of last year.

– Kansas first baseman Zac Elgie recorded his third double of the season in the second game Tuesday. Elgie had just five career doubles in 189 at bats coming into the season.

– Elgie has now hit safely in five consecutive games, which is the longest hitting streak of his career.

Up Next

The Jayhawks will return to the friendly confines of Hoglund Ballpark, where they will play eight of their next nine contests. The team’s homestand opens with North Dakota in a non-conference game Tuesday at 3 p.m.