Jayhawks Take On North Dakota in Home Opener Tuesday
March 5, 2012
LEADING OFF: Kansas baseball will play its first home games of the season this week when non-conference foe North Dakota makes the trip to Lawrence. The Jayhawks and Fighting Sioux will play a two-game series, beginning Tuesday at 3 p.m., and play the second game on Wednesday also at 3 p.m.
ON THE AIR: Audio from the two-game series is available free of charge on Jayhawk All-Access. A link to the audio can be found at kuathletics.com. Fans can also follow the action via GameTracker at kuathletics.com.
SERIES HISTORIES: Kansas is 3-0 all-time against the Fighting Sioux, with all three wins coming in Lawrence over the past three seasons. KU swept a two-game series from UND in 2009 and claimed a 5-3 win over the Sioux last year.
ABOUT KANSAS: The Jayhawks ran into some good pitching in San Antonio at the UTSA Classic and will be looking to snap a three-game losing streak on Tuesday. Over the last four years, Kansas is 47-6 in non-conference games at Hoglund Ballpark.
KU’s offense showed signs of getting back on track in the first two games of the weekend tournament at Wolff Stadium, but sputtered in the finale against Gonzaga. Overall, the Jayhawks average 4.8 runs per game and have a team batting average of .271. Junior shortstop Kevin Kuntz leads the Kansas offense with a .400 batting average, two doubles and a .500 on-base percentage. A pair of freshmen RHP Robert Kahana and Drew Morovick will start for Kansas this week. Morovick is 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA and has seven strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.
SCOUTING THE FIGHTING SIOUX: North Dakota enters the midweek series in Lawrence looking for its first victory of the season. The Sioux were swept in their season-opening series at Wichita State by four lopsided scores.
UND’s offense ranks seventh in the Great West Conference with a .133 team batting average. The Sioux have scored three runs in their first four games. Freshman 1B Jeffery Campbell leads the team with a .286 batting average, with two doubles and an RBI. Junior OF Riley Beck and senior 3B Kyle Bolander drove in North Dakota’s other runs.
The Sioux pitching staff has a team ERA of 16.20, allowing 62 runs in their four-game series at Wichita State. Senior LHP Kevin Auth started UND’s opening game at Eck Stadium and went five innings and allowed three earned runs with three walks and two strikeouts. Freshman LHP Ben Clark tossed 2 1/3 innings of hitless relief against the Shockers.
UND head coach Jeff Dodson is in his fourth season at the school. The Fighting Sioux are in their last season of transitioning into a full NCAA Division I member, making them eligible for postseason play in 2013.
LAST TIME OUT: Gonzaga starting pitcher Andy Hunter tossed eight strong innings, while center fielder Royce Bolinger went 3-for-5 and had four RBIs as the Gonzaga Bulldogs handed Kansas its third-straight loss, 7-2, during the final day of the UTSA Classic at Wolff Stadium.
TAYLOR MADE: The fourth-longest scoreless innings streak to start a season in KU history came to an end on Sunday when redshirt-junior RHP Thomas Taylor was touched up for two runs with one out in the first inning against Gonzaga. Taylor had tossed 14-straight scoreless innings in his first two starts at Belmont (Feb. 18) and at Mississippi State (Feb. 25), but gave up a two-run double in the first inning Sunday.
Taylor did recover after the first inning and put up three more scoreless innings, before departing with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. His 14 1/3 scoreless innings to open the season was the longest streak since Brian Rhodes tossed 15 consecutive shutout innings in 1976. Below is a look at KU’s longest streaks to open a season.
Longest Scoreless Innings Streak to Start the Season
1. Steve Corder (1972)… 21 2/3 IP
2. Bob Cox (1972)……… 20 2/3 IP
3. Brian Rhodes (1976)…….. 15 IP
4. Thomas Taylor (2012) 14 1/3 IP
5. Shaeffer Hall (2009)… 13 1/3 IP
FOUR-HIT FRESHMAN: Freshman OF Dakota Smith enjoyed a career day in just his second collegiate start. The first-year outfielder went 4-for-4 with a home run, double and four RBIs in KU’s loss to Louisiana on Saturday. He became the first Jayhawk freshman to collect four hits in a game since Jake Marasco accomplished the feat on March 7, 2010 against Iowa.
Smith became the fifth Jayhawk freshman since 2003 to collect four hits in a game, however he is the only player on the list that hit a home run. Below is a list of freshmen to record four hits during the Price era.
Four-Hit Games by Kansas Freshmen (Since 2003)
Dakota Smith (vs. Louisiana, March 3, 2012)…… 4-for-4
Jake Marasco (vs. Iowa, March 7, 2010)…………….. 4-for-4
John Allman (vs. Western Illinois, March 20, 2005)…. 4-for-4
Ryne Price (vs. North Dakota St., March 13, 2005)… 4-for-5
Matt Baty (vs. Baker, April 8, 2003)………………….. 4-for-5
– Kansas will play its home opener Tuesday against non-conference foe North Dakota. The Jayhawks are 8-1 in home openers under Ritch Price, with the only loss coming last season to Creighton (4-3 in 10 innings).
– The Jayhawks are 3-0 all-time against the Fighting Sioux and 22-7 all-time against current members of the Great West Conference.
– Tuesday’s game with North Dakota will mark the 1,000th game at the NCAA Division I level for Kansas head coach Ritch Price. Price coached 438 games at Cal Poly from 1994-2002 and will coach his 562nd game at Kansas.
– Kansas ranks third in Big 12 in earned run average at 3.32. Of the four pitchers who have started games for KU this season, three of them rank among the top 15 in ERA: Thomas Taylor (11th, 2.29), Wes Benjamin (13th, 3.06) and Frank Duncan (14th, 3.86).
– Kansas pitchers have six quality starts in 10 games this season. Last year as a staff, KU had just 16 quality starts. A quality start is when a starting pitcher goes six innings or more and allows three runs or less.
– The Jayhawks have outhit eight of their 10 opponents this season.
– Kansas has done a great job of getting people on base to start an inning. As a team, KU has had its leadoff man reach base 38.4 percent of the time (33-for-86). In turn, KU pitchers have allowed the leadoff hitter to reach only 28.2 percent of the time (24-for-85).
– KU’s fielding has been rock solid for the early part of the season. The Jayhawks have committed just seven errors in 367 chances this season for a .981 fielding percentage. KU has also turned nine double plays.
– Senior 3B Zac Elgie is tied for third in the Big 12 with four doubles this season. Since the beginning of last season, Elgie has 26 doubles in 63 games, giving him 0.41 per game.
– Junior Kevin Kuntz ranks fifth in the Big 12 with a .400 batting average through 10 games this season and is also sixth in on-base percentage (.500).
– Kuntz is also the only Jayhawk to reach base in all 10 of the team’s games.
– Kuntz leads the team with seven base hits with two strikes. Overall this season, the junior is batting .438 (7-for-16) when he has two strikes against him.
– Senior IF Chris Manship collected his third triple of the season Saturday against Lousiana, which ties him for the Big 12 lead. Manship did not have a triple in his first three seasons at KU, but has three in 24 at bats this season.
– Junior 1B Jake Marasco recorded his first multi-hit game of 2012 in Friday’s loss to UTSA. Marasco led the team with 16 multi-hit games last season.
– Freshman OF Dakota Smith’s eight total bases in Saturday’s game with Louisiana were the most by a Jayhawk this season.
– Senior C James Stanfield collected a pair of base hits against left-handed pitching over the weekend. Coming into the season, Stanfield was a career .246 hitter against lefties.
– Sophomore RHP Frank Duncan has struggled early in games, but been tough to hit the second time through the order. Duncan has allowed seven runs on nine hits during the first two innings of a game and three runs on six hits from the third inning on.
– Junior RHP Thomas Taylor did a great job of pitching from ahead in his start Sunday against Louisiana. Taylor threw a season best 21 first-pitch strikes to the 28 batters he faced in the game.
– Kansas senior 3B Zac Elgie is a native of Minot, N.D.
– Elgie likely played against North Dakota sophomore RHP Ryan Jungling, who is from Mandan, N.D., at some point in his high school career. Both Minot and Mandan high schools are members of the Western Dakota Association.
– Kansas LHP Jordan Luvisi (Scottsdale), IF Joey Luvisi (Scottsdale), IF Chris Manship and OF Brian Poupore (Scottsdale) along with North Dakota senior RHP Jake Swift (Phoenix) all grew up in the Phoenix, Ariz. metro area.
BACKDRAFT: KU’s 2012 roster features nine players who were drafted by Major League organzations out of high school, but decided to become Jayhawks. Senior IF Zac Elgie (Oakland) was selected in the 2008 Amateur Draft. Juniors IF Kevin Kuntz (Kansas City), LHP Jordan Luvisi (Arizona), RHP Tanner Poppe (Kansas City) were all selected in the 2009 draft. Sophomore IF Ka’iana Eldredge (Cincinnati) was drafted in 2010, while freshmen LHP Wes Benjamin (New York Yankees), RHP Robert Kahana (Colorado), OF Connor McKay (Colorado) and OF Michael Suiter (Cincinnati) were selected in last year’s draft. Poppe was also drafted last season by the Tampa Bay Rays.
300 GAME: Head coach Ritch Price reached a milestone in the Jayhawks’ season-opening win over Middle Tennessee. The veteran skipper earned his 300th victory at Kansas, becoming the second KU head coach to reach the 300-win plateau. Former Kansas coach Floyd Temple is the only other head man to reach 300 victories at the school, amassing 438 wins from 1954-81.
Most Wins in Kansas History
1. Floyd Temple (1954-81)…… 438
2. Ritch Price (2003-present) 304
3. Dave Bingham (1988-95)…. 249
4. Bobby Randall (1996-2002). 166
5. Marty Patton (1982-87)…… 122
UP NEXT: The Jayhawks will travel to Minneapolis, Minn., to participate in the Metrodome Tournament with Minnesota and Stony Brook this weekend. KU will meet the Seawolves at 12:15 p.m. on Friday in a doubleheader, before battling the Golden Gophers on Saturday at 6:35 p.m.