Jayhawks Face Le Moyne Wednesday in Home Opener

March 4, 2008

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After a pair of wins over the weekend at the Music City Classic, the Kansas baseball team returns home to kick off a six-game homestand, beginning Wednesday with a contest against Le Moyne College. First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. from Hoglund Ballpark.

Gametracker will be available for the game at www.kuathletics.com.

The Series

This will be the first meeting between the schools on the baseball diamond. Le Moyne dropped its conference affiliation this past year. KU is 39-17 all-time against current Division I Independents.

Scouting the Dolphins

Le Moyne College, an NCAA Tournament participant in 2007, is making a road trip through the middle of the country this week. The trip started last weekend with a three-game series at Oral Roberts. The Dolphins fell to No. 25 Wichita State, 9-8, yesterday.

Junior second baseman Matt Nandin leads the team with a .467 batting average, five runs scored, three RBIs and a .533 slugging percentage. The Dolphins have four hitters in their lineup, Nandin, Corey O’Neill, Stephen Crawford and Phil St. Amant, who are currently hitting .300 or better.

The Dolphins will start a freshman left-handed pitcher, Corey Nelson, Wednesday against the Jayhawks. Nelson has made two appearances this season and has allowed an unearned run on three hits. He pitched 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief in Sunday’s game against Oral Roberts.

Head coach Steve Owens is in his 10th season at Le Moyne and holds a 259-152 record at the school. He is 504-233-1 in 16-plus seasons as a head coach at the collegiate level.

Last Time Out

Junior center fielder Nick Faunce went 4-for-5 with three runs scored, while the Jayhawks used a five-run second to surge past Iowa, 9-5 Sunday, in the final day of the Music City Classic at Hawkins Field.

Once again, KU used a big inning to post a victory. In the bottom of the second inning, Kansas sent nine men to the plate, scoring five runs on four hits, an error and a hit batsman.

Noting the Jayhawks

– Wednesday’s contest is KU’s first scheduled home game of the year. The Jayhawks are 5-0 in home openers under head coach Ritch Price.

– KU has won its first home game of the season eight straight times. It’s last loss in a home opener came in 1999 against Baker.

– The Jayhawks have not had a losing season at Hoglund Ballpark since 2000.

– Kansas earned a pair of victories over the weekend at the Music City Classic, defeating Xavier and Iowa. It marked the second time in three years that the Jayhawks earned multiple wins at the tournament.

– Junior catcher Buck Afenir tripled in KU’s only run Friday against No. 7 Vanderbilt. It marked the second time this season that a KU catcher has collected a triple and was Afenir’s first career three-base hit.

– Senior John Allman had a pair of sacrifice flies in Sunday’s win over Iowa. Allman has three RBIs despite just five hits this season.

– Senior Matt Berner was a defensive replacement at third in two of the games during the Music City Classic.

– Junior Nick Faunce went 4-for-5 with three runs scored in Sunday’s win over Iowa. Faunce became the third different Jayhawk to have a four-hit game this season, joining Joe Southers (Feb. 24) and Preston Land (March 1).

– Freshman Brian Heere collected his first hit as a Jayhawk in his first collegiate start on Feb. 23 against Hawaii-Hilo.

– Junior Preston Land went 4-for-5 against Xavier Saturday. The Kansas first baseman set career highs in hits (four), RBIs (five) and total bases (12) in the contest. He also had his first two-homer game since his freshman season.

– Senior Casey Larson made a pair of starts in right field during the Music City Classic and went 4-for-7 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs. The senior has hit safely in four of his five starts this season.

– Senior shortstop Erik Morrison reached base four times (two hits, two walks) in Sunday’s 9-5 win over Iowa. Despite a sub-.250 batting average, the senior short stop’s on-base percentage is .359.

– Sophomore Robby Price hit safely in all three games during the Music City Classic. But more impressively, he had four more sacrifice bunts over the weekend to give him eight for the season. He is nearly halfway to breaking his brother’s school record of 17 sacrifices in a season.

– Senior Ryne Price hit his first home run of the season, a solo shot to lead off the fifth, against Iowa. It was the senior’s first home run on the road since hitting two in an April 1 game at Missouri last season.

– Freshman Tony Thompson collected hits in the final two games of the Music City Classic. Thompson has been a good player in the clutch this season, hitting .294 with men on base and .300 with two outs.

– Freshman Jimmy Waters collected a hit in KU’s 12-4 triumph over Xavier. Waters is hitting just .176, but has put the ball in play, advancing runners at a 45.5 percent clip.

– Sophomore Brett Bollman has been a find for the Jayhawks as a right-handed set-up man. The 5-foot-9 righty has made three appearances and struck out five in four innings of work.

– Freshman Brett Bochy allowed an unearned run against No. 7 Vanderbilt Friday. The 6-foot-2 righty has made three appearances this year and has a 4.50 ERA.

– Junior Nick Czyz continues to move up the charts among the career leaders at KU. The third-year lefty leads the current team in career starts (24), innings pitched (131.1) and wins (eight).

– Senior Andres Esquibel made a pair of hitless appearances at the Music City Classic. The 6-foot-3 righty has not allowed an earned run in his last five appearances, which spans 15 innings.

– Sophomore Shaeffer Hall pitched seven scoreless innings in his win Saturday over Xavier. Hall became the first Jayhawk pitcher to hold an opponent scoreless over six innings or more since Andy Marks threw seven scoreless innings at Kansas State on May 4 of last year.

– Junior Sam Freeman earned his second victory on the mound Sunday. Freeman has given up a lot of hits (17) in 11.0 innings, but has allowed just five runs in his two outings.

– Senior Matt Lane made an appearance Saturday against Xavier. Lane, a Free State High School graduate, was one of four Firebirds on the field in the eighth inning of that game. Lane was joined by FHS alums Matt Berner, Ryne Price and Robby Price.

– Sophomore Wally Marciel has lived up to the billing as a freshman All-American last year. The second-year lefty was saddled with a tough-luck loss last Wednesday, allowing two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Razorbacks.

– Junior Paul Smyth made his only appearance Sunday against Iowa. The 5-foot-11 righty leads the team and is second in the conference with five appearances this season.

KU Places Three on All-Tournament Team

After taking a pair of games at the Music City Classic over the weekend, three Jayhawks were honored on the all-tournament team Sunday evening. First baseman Preston Land, outfielder Casey Larson and starting pitcher Shaeffer Hall were named to the squad of 11.

Land hit .417 for the tournament including two doubles, two home runs and five RBIs in Saturday’s 12-4 KU triumph over Xavier.

Larson hit .571 (4-for-7) with a pair of doubles and two RBIs in two games during the weekend. Larson started in right field in both KU victories, going 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs against Xavier and 1-for-3 against Iowa.

Hall earned KU’s first win of the weekend, holding Xavier scoreless for seven innings on Saturday. The 6-foot-1 lefty allowed just five hits, while walking one and striking out four.

This Land is Your Land

Junior first baseman Preston Land tore up Xavier pitching in Saturday’s 12-4 triumph over the Musketeers. The 6-foot-3 slugger went 4-for-5 with two doubles, two homers, five RBIs and 12 total bases. He also collected two hits in the same inning for the second time this season.

Last season, after being named a preseason all-conference selection, Land stumbled to a .206 batting average with four homers and just 26 RBIs.

This year, the junior first baseman is hitting .313 through the first nine games, has three homers and has already driven in 10 runs – which is tied for sixth in the Big 12.

In the Nick of Time

Junior center fielder Nick Faunce went 4-for-5 with three runs scored hitting in the leadoff spot Sunday against Iowa. Coming into the season, Faunce had started just one game in his Kansas career, but has quickly become a catalyst at the top of the order.

Through nine games, the 5-foot-11 center fielder leads the team with a .440 batting average, a .548 on-base percentage and 11 base hits. He has also reached base 8-of-15 times when he’s led off an inning.

Hall of Fame

Sophomore Shaeffer Hall held Xavier scoreless for seven innings Saturday and took a no-hitter into the fifth inning. This was an incredible turnaround from the second-year lefty’s first start of the year, when he gave up three runs on five hits over three innings, including four consecutive doubles.

He became the first Jayhawk pitcher to throw six or more shut out innings in a game since Andy Marks pitched seven scoreless innings against K-State last season.

Up Next

Kansas continues its homestand this weekend with a four-game series against North Dakota State beginning Friday at 3 p.m. The Jayhawks and Bison will play a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at noon and conclude the series Sunday with a 1 p.m. first pitch.

Season Tickets on Sale

Kansas baseball season tickets are on sale now. Fans can order tickets by calling the Jayhawk ticket office at 800-34-HAWKS or by logging on to kuathletics.com.