Jayhawks Face Tough Challenge at No. 10 Arkansas

March 8, 2007


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The University of Kansas baseball team travels to Fayetteville, Ark., this weekend to battle 10th-ranked Arkansas in a three-game series. The Jayhawks and Razorbacks meet on Friday at 12:35 p.m., to open the series. The teams will play the second game at 12:05 p.m., on Saturday and complete the three-game set Sunday at 1:05 p.m. This will mark the first meeting between the schools since 2003. <?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

Scouting the Razorbacks
The University of Arkansas enters the weekend series with KU having dropped two of three games at the Dairy Queen Classic at the Metrodome over the weekend. The Razorbacks fell to SEC rival Ole Miss and to host Minnesota, before winning the final game against the Gophers on Sunday.

Junior infielder Casey Coon has been Arkansas’ top hitter posting a .380 batting average and team highs in doubles (six), homers (three) and RBIs (24). Junior infielder Ben Tschepikow leads the team with a .381 batting average.

Junior Nick Schmidt has been the Razorbacks’ best starting pitcher, posting a perfect 3-0 mark with a 1.50 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 30 innings this season. Junior lefty Jess Todd has been the team’s best out of the bullpen, posting a 2.19 ERA in 12.1 innings and seven appearances. He leads the team with two saves.

Head coach Dave Van Horn is in his fifth season at Arkansas and has a record of 168-93 at the school. He is 488-250 in his 12-year coaching career. Van Horn’s team returns six position starters and 14 letterwinners overall from last year’s team, which finished 39-21 and advanced to the NCAA Regionals.

KU is 25-35 against Arkansas all-time. The Razorbacks took the last meeting, 2-1, on March 11, 2003.

Last Time Out
KU set several offensive highs Wednesday as the bats came to life in a 24-7 victory over Baker University. The Jayhawks scored 20-plus runs in a game for the first time since March 5, 2004. The team pounded out a season-high 23 hits, including nine doubles. It marked the first time KU has recorded as many two-base hits in a game since May 20, 2005. Juniors Erik Morrison and Brock Simpson led the way, collecting three hits and four RBIs each.

Erik Excels
Junior shortstop Erik Morrison feasted on opposing pitching in a recent four-game homestand. Morrison went 9-for-16 (.563) during the stretch, collecting four doubles, two homers, nine runs scored and 10 RBIs.

The 5-foot-11 shortstop entered the four-game stretch hitting .222, but ended it batting above .300. He raised his season average by nearly 90 points.

Brock Solid
Junior right fielder Brock Simpson has enjoyed his return to Hoglund Ballpark. After suffering an early-season slump, Simpson has four consecutive multiple-hit games which have all been home games.

Simpson has been retired just twice in four home games, going 9-for-11 during the homestand. The 6-foot-2 outfielder also has nine RBIs and six runs scored in that stretch.

No Bull (pen)
One of the reasons for KU’s 11-5 start has been the team’s strong bullpen. In 59.1 innings of relief, the Jayhawks’ pen has allowed just eight earned runs and 45 hits, while walking 14 and recording 62 strikeouts.

Over the past two seasons, KU’s bullpen has been an instrumental part of the team’s success. The Jayhawks are 49-6 when leading or tied after six innings over the past two years, including 10-2 this year.

We’re Going Streaking
Junior left fielder John Allman has been the team’s most consistent Jayhawk hitter this season, leading the team with a .434 batting average. However, the St. Louis native has done his best work over the last two weeks, enjoying a 10-game hitting streak.

Allman is the 16th different player to have a hitting streak of 10 games or more under Price, but just the second in the last two seasons. During the streak, Allman is batting .514 (19-for-37) with five doubles, 12 RBIs and a .600 on-base percentage.

Around the Horn

– The Jayhawks are 6-3 against Southeastern Conference teams under Head Coach Ritch Price. Price’s first team at KU swept a three-game series at No. 6 LSU in 2003, while KU has a 3-0 record at Vanderbilt over the last three seasons as well.

– The series with Arkansas will mark the first games that the Jayhawks will play against a team ranked in one of the national polls.

– KU is scheduled to play series against six different teams ranked in this week’s polls, including four from the Big 12.

– Sophomore catcher Buck Afenir has two multi-hit games in KU’s last four contests. Afenir, who hit .278 last season, is now batting .333.

– Sophomore first baseman Preston Land homered twice against Western Illinois. He is tied for the team lead with three homers this season.

– Junior Ryne Price had back-to-back multi-hit games and three extra base hits this week. Price currently leads the team with a .611 slugging percentage.

– Junior Erik Morrison became the sixth player since 2003 to reach 100 career RBIs at KU. He is 15 hits away from 150 in his career and six runs away from the century mark.

– Freshman Robby Price recorded his first three-hit game in a Jayhawk uniform Tuesday against Tabor. Price has hit safely in eight straight games.

– Junior John Allman walked three-straight times against Baker, yet still extended his 10-game hitting streak with a double in the fifth inning. Allman has a .434 batting average and a .538 on-base percentage this season.

– Junior Brock Simpson is seven hits away from reaching 100 in his collegiate career.

– Junior Casey Larson collected a season-high three RBIs in Wednesday’s win over Baker.

– Sophomore Justin Ellrich had his second two-hit game of the season against Tabor College on Tuesday.

– Freshman Steve Cochran recorded his first collegiate hit on Wednesday against Baker.

– Sophomore Nick Faunce recorded his first two-hit game on Wednesday against Baker. He also set a career-high with two runs scored in the game.

– Junior Eric Snowden kept swinging a hot bat in the weekday games. Snowden went 3-for-4 with four RBIs in the games against Tabor and Baker.

– Freshman Wally Marciel bounced back from a rough start, collecting the win Tuesday against Tabor. Marciel went 4 2/3 innings, allowing one run on four hits and recording four strikeouts.

– Freshman Max Ellenbecker made his first collegiate appearance against Tabor on Tuesday. The 5-foot-10 righty retired three of the four hitters he faced in the inning.

– KU scored in every inning against Baker on Wednesday. This marked the first time the Jayhawks had done this since May 20, 2005 against Oklahoma.

– The Jayhawks were hit by a pitch six times against Tabor. This was the team’s highest single game total since Jan. 25, 2003 against Hawaii-Hilo. KU has been hit by pitch 29 times so far this season and is on pace to top the school record of 91.

Lights, Camera, Jayhawks
KU is scheduled to make three television appearances this season, including one national telecast. The Jayhawks’ game against in-state rival Kansas State on May 5 will be seen nationally on Fox Sports Net.

The Jayhawks will also be on TV April 3 in a non-conference game against K-State and on April 20 at Texas Tech. Both of those games will be shown on Fox College Sports Central, a cable station available in various sports packages around the country.

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.

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 return home next week to face non-conference foes Penn State and No. 14 Wichita State on Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively. KU has never met the Nittany Lions on the baseball diamond, while the Jayhawks will face the Shockers again in Wichita in April.

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.