Jayhawks Open Five-Game Homestand with North Dakota Tuesday
March 7, 2011
Games 12-13: North Dakota at Kansas
Hoglund Ballpark (2,500) – Lawrence, Kan.
March 8 (3 p.m.)
March 9 (3 p.m.)
After salvaging the final game of the Coca Cola Classic in Surprise, Ariz., the Kansas Jayhawks will open a five-game homestand beginning with a two game series against North Dakota. The Jayhawks and Fighting Sioux will face off Tuesday at 3 p.m., and Wednesday at 3 p.m. at Hoglund Ballpark.
Fans can listen to the Tuesday afternoon game via audio webcast at www.kuathletics.com with Tom Hedrick and Kyle West on the call. Wednesday’s game will be available on Gametracker only.
Kansas and North Dakota will be meeting in a two-game series for the second time in the last three seasons. The Jayhawks swept a two-game set from the Sioux in 2009, winning by scores of 8-2 and 6-3.
About the Jayhawks
After winning three in a row, KU dropped three in a row before downing Air Force on Sunday morning in Surprise, Ariz. The Jayhawks have played much better at home, going 3-1 in their four games at Hoglund Ballpark.
KU’s offense is still trying to find its groove. After 11 games, KU is batting .185 and is averaging 2.7 runs per game. Sophomore third baseman Jake Marasco leads the team with a .378 batting average with three doubles, a triple and a .514 slugging percentage. KU’s pitching staff has been spectacular, posting a 2.99 ERA and holding opponents to a .237 batting average. Senior lefty Wally Marciel leads the staff with a 2-1 record and a 1.89 ERA in three starts.
Scouting the Fighting Sioux
North Dakota comes to Lawrence looking for its first victory of the season. The Sioux were swept in a three-game series at Missouri State over the weekend. UND has yet to play a home game, playing three game series at Wichita State and at Missouri State.
UND’s offense has hit .193 on the year and is averaging 3.2 runs per game. Senior catcher/outfielder Andy Salder leads the team with a .407 batting average with a triple and five RBIs in six games. Junior third baseman Kyle Bolander is hitting .313 with a .476 on-base percentage.
The Fighting Sioux pitching staff has struggled thus far with a team ERA of 11.65. The team is led by senior lefty David Spies, who has allowed just one earned run in 6 2/3 innings out of the pen. North Dakota has not announced who will be its starting pitchers in this week’s games.
Head coach Jeff Dodson is in his third season at North Dakota, in its third-year transitioning to the NCAA Division I level. The Fighting Sioux return 18 letterwinners, including eight pitchers from last year’s squad, which finished 19-35.
Last Time Out
Senior left-handed pitcher Wally Marciel tossed seven strong innings, while third baseman Jake Marasco went 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored as Kansas snapped a three-game losing streak with a 4-1 victory over Air Force Sunday morning at the Coca Cola Classic in Surprise, Ariz.
Start Me Up
KU’s starting pitchers have been dominant in the early part of the season. The Jayhawk starters have combined for a 4-3 record with a 2.94 ERA and 41 strikeouts in 64 1/3 innings on the hill.
More impressively, the KU starters have gone six innings or more in six of the team’s first 11 games of the season and have five quality starts. Weekend starters Tanner Poppe (1.65) and Wally Marciel (1.89) have sub-2.00 ERA, while T.J. Walz has bounced back after a rough first start.
KU’s pitching staff has been impressive over the first 11 games of the year. The Jayhawks rank fourth in the Big 12 in team ERA (2.99) and second in hits allowed (88), trailing only Texas (86).
One of the reasons for the pitching staff’s success has been its ability to pitch well in pressure situations. The Jayhawks have held opponents to a .225 batting average with men on base and a .207 average with two outs in the inning.
Jake the Snake
While KU’s offense has struggled this season, sophomore third baseman Jake Marasco seems immune to the team’s early season slump. The redshirt-sophomore ranks 10th in the Big 12 with a .378 batting average and has a .465 on-base percentage and a .514 slugging percentage.
Marasco is batting .429 with two outs in an inning and leads the team with four multi-hit games. It’s been a long road back for Marasco, who missed all but 13 games as a freshman after breaking his foot early in the season. He also missed several games last season due to the death of his mother, Carol.
The Price is Right
Kansas head coach Ritch Price is closing in on a career milestone. The Jayhawk skipper enters the week with 495 career wins at the NCAA Division I level. He would become the first Kansas coach and the fourth coach in the Big 12 to amass 500 victories at the Division I level.
– Kansas will face North Dakota in a non-conference two-game series, beginning Tuesday. The Jayhawks and Fighting Sioux will be meeting for just the third time in baseball on Tuesday.
– KU is 21-7 all-time against current members of the Great West Conference.
– Kansas first baseman Zac Elgie is a native of Minot, N.D.
– The Fighting Sioux will be making their second trip to the state of Kansas after playing a three-game series against Wichita State to open the season.
– Despite a low batting average this season, Kansas has still found ways to reach base. KU players have been walked 37 times and have also been hit by pitch 18 times through 11 games this year.
– Kansas is running a lot more than in previous years. The Jayhawks have 15 stolen bases through the first 11 games. Last season, the Jayhawks did not swipe their 15th base until April 3, 29 games into the season.
– KU’s game with No. 7 Arizona State on March 5 was the team’s fourth contest against an opponent ranked in the Top 25. The rest of the Big 12 Conference has played a combined 15 games against ranked opponents.
– While KU’s pitching has been good this season, it’s been even better at home. The Jayhawks have recorded a 1.46 ERA and allowed a .214 batting average in their four games at Hoglund Ballpark this season.
– The Jayhawks have allowed just two home runs this season – both to TCU on Feb. 20, which ties for the fewest in the league with Texas A&M.
Air Force Leftovers
– Kansas salvaged the final game of the series with Air Force Sunday, improving the team to 2-0 in contests on the first day of the week.
– Third baseman Jake Marasco went 3-for-4 against the Falcons, marking the second time he’s recorded at least three hits in a game this season.
– Senior Brandon Macias and freshman Kaiana Eldredge both went 2-for-3 in the game, marking both players’ first multi-hit contests of the season.
– Eldredge also recorded a pair of RBIs for his first collegiate multi-RBI contest.
– Junior Jason Brunansky was hit by pitch in the second inning of the game against Air Force. Brunansky has reached base at least once in every start this season and in 14-straight starts dating back to last season.
– Senior Wally Marciel matched his longest career outing by going seven innings against Air Force.
– The Falcons did not record their first hit in the game until the fifth inning – a one-out single. KU had gone the previous 13 1/3 innings without allowing a hit to Air Force. In 2009, Shaeffer Hall tossed a nine-inning no-hitter against the Falcons.
– Junior Colton Murray recorded his second save in three opportunities this season. In Murray’s 10 2/3 innings pitched, he has allowed just one walk and struck out 11.
The Jayhawks will host Eastern Michigan in the final weekend series before the start of Big 12 play. KU will meet the Eagles Friday, March 11 at 3 p.m., Saturday, March 12 at 1 p.m., and Sunday, March 13 at 1 p.m.