Kansas Faces Local Rivals Tabor, Baker This Week

March 6, 2007


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The University of Kansas baseball team will play a pair of home games against NAIA schools Tabor College and Baker University this week. The Jayhawks will face the Tabor Bluejays on Tuesday afternoon at 4 p.m., and then host the Baker Wildcats on Wednesday at 5 p.m. The games were scheduled due to the home games KU lost due to the weather earlier in the season. <?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

Last Time Out

The Jayhawks got back on track with a doubleheader sweep of Western Illinois Sunday afternoon. KU pounded out 16 hits and scored 15 runs in the first game of the twinbill. Both numbers were season highs. Junior shortstop Erik Morrison led the attack, collecting four hits. Morrison hit a two-run homer, doubled twice and singled to finish a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. Junior right fielder Brock Simpson went 2-for-2 with a pair of triples. The Jayhawks used a balanced attack to down the Leathernecks in the second game. Eight of nine starters collected hits in KU’s 6-3 triumph.

Morrison Just Misses the Cycle

Junior shortstop Erik Morrison went 4-for-5 in the first game of Sunday’s doubleheader with Western Illinois. The 5-foot-11 junior was just a triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

In his fifth at-bat of the game, Morrison hit a ball into the right field gap, but held up with a double.

The shortstop still managed to match team single-game highs in hits (four), doubles (two) and total bases (nine) for the 2007 season. His 4-for-5 effort also raised his batting average by nearly 60 points from .222 to .280.

Simpson Snaps out of Slump

Junior right fielder Brock Simpson snapped out of an early slump by going 4-for-6 in the doubleheader with Western Illinois. Simpson, who had not had a hit since the South Dakota State series, collected two triples in the first game. He became the first Jayhawk to triple twice in the same game since John Nelson accomplished the feat on Feb. 17, 2001. He is currently tied for the lead in the Big 12 with three triples this season.

Afenir the Fire

Sophomore catcher Buck Afenir also provided an offensive spark in Sunday’s doubleheader. The 6-foot catcher collected three hits including a grand slam in the fourth inning of the first game.

It marked the first time that a KU player has hit a grand slam since John Allman’s slam against Bradley on May 13 of last season. Afenir also added a solo homer in the second game to tie him for the team lead with three round-trippers this season. The sophomore catcher hit four homers last year.

Zach Attack

Junior left-handed pitcher Zach Ashwood earned his second win of the season, striking out a season-high nine batters in the 15-5 victory over Western Illinois.

The 6-foot-4 lefty worked six innings, allowing three earned runs on six hits and walking just one.

His nine strikeouts were the most by a KU pitcher this season and the most since Brendan McNamara had 10 strikeouts against Southeast Missouri on April 25 last year.

Around the Horn

– KU’s 15 runs scored in the first game of the doubleheader with Western Illinois was the team’s best offensive output since scoring 19 runs against Missouri State on April 18 last year. The Jayhawks’ 16 hits in the game were also a season-high.

– Sophomore Preston Land hit a pair of home runs in the doubleheader, including the first of back-to-back homers in the first game. Land is tied with Buck Afenir for the team lead in home runs (three).

– Junior Ryne Price hit his first triple since the third game of his collegiate career in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader. Price is second on the team with six extra base hits.

– Junior Erik Morrison is one RBI away from 100 in his career.

– Freshman Robby Price hit his first career triple in the second game of the twinbill. Price is the fifth Jayhawk to triple this season.

– Junior John Allman extended his team-best hitting streak to eight games Sunday. During the streak, Allman is hitting .485 (16-for-33).

– Junior Justin Ellrich had his second multi-hit game of the season Sunday. Ellrich has three hits in his last six at-bats.

– Sophomore Nick Czyz allowed three unearned runs Sunday to earn his second victory of the season. The 6-foot lefty scattered three hits over five innings, while striking out four.

– Freshman Thomas Marcin pitched two innings of scoreless relief in the first game. In seven appearances this season, Marcin has allowed just one run.

– Junior Andres Esquibel also had a scoreless outing Sunday, pitching three innings against Western Illinois. Esquibel is third on the team with a 1.52 ERA in 17 innings this season. He is one of four KU pitchers with an ERA below 2.00.

– Sophomore Paul Smyth earned his third save in Sunday’s 6-3 win. Smyth has made eight appearances this season and has yet to give up a run.

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 were 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 Jayhawks are also scheduled to face rival Missouri at Kaufman Stadium in Kansas City 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 travel Fayetteville, Ark., this weekend to take on the 10th-ranked Razorbacks at Baum Stadium. The teams will meet at 2:05 p.m. Friday, 12:05 p.m. Saturday and 1:05 p.m. Sunday. This will be the first meeting between the schools since 2003.

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.