Jayhawks Look to Get Back on Track at Metrodome Tournament
March 8, 2012
LEADING OFF: Kansas baseball will hit the road for the fourth-straight weekend when it participates in the Metrodome Tournament in Minneapolis, Minn. The Jayhawks will take on Stony Brook in a doubleheader beginning at 12:15 p.m., Friday, before facing the host team, Minnesota, at 6:35 p.m., Saturday.
ON THE AIR: Audio from the weekend’s games 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 and Stony Brook will be meeting for the first time on the baseball diamond. Minnesota leads the all-time series with KU, 4-2, with the last meeting coming in 1991, when the Golden Gophers took two-of-three from the Jayhawks at the Dome.
ABOUT KANSAS: Kansas heads into its fourth weekend of action at 6-6 overall after splitting a pair of games with North Dakota during the week. The Jayhawks are 3-2 in neutral site games and 2-3 in true road games this season.
KU’s offense is averaging 5.3 runs per game and batting .276 as a team, which ranks fifth in the Big 12. Junior SS Kevin Kuntz leads the team with a .385 batting average and a .538 on-base percentage. Kuntz is tied for the team lead with nine runs scored. KU’s pitching staff ranks fifth in the conference with a 4.06 ERA. Sophomore RHP Frank Duncan leads the team with two wins and 17 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings on the mound. Duncan has a 3.48 ERA.
SCOUTING THE SEAWOLVES: Stony Brook heads to the Metrodome Tournament with a 5-3 record overall after routing Fairleigh Dickinson on Wednesday afternoon. SBU is 2-0 in neutral site games and 3-3 in true road games.
Stony Brook’s offense averages 5.3 runs per game and ranks second in the America East Conference with a .271 team batting average. Freshman IF Max Tissenbaum leads the Seawolves with a .464 batting average and a .545 on-base percentage with two doubles and a home run. Junior William Carmona leads the team with a pair of homers and seven RBIs on the season.
SBU leads the America East Conference with a 2.28 team ERA and has held opponents to a .218 batting average. Kansas will face a pair of right-handed pitchers in senior Tyler Johnson and sophomore Brandon McNitt Friday. Johnson is 0-1 with a 1.29 ERA in two starts, while McNitt is 1-1 and has a 1.93 ERA in his two starts this season.
Seawolves head coach Matt Senk is in his 22nd season at Stony Brook and has a 576-379-3 record at the school. Senk has led the Seawolves to three NCAA Regionals since 2004, including a trip in 2011 after a school-record 42 wins and the America East regular season title.
SCOUTING THE GOLDEN GOPHERS: Minnesota enters the weekend with a 6-6 record after earning a 3-2 victory over Hamline University on Wednesday night. The Golden Gophers are 5-4 at the Metrodome this season.
The Golden Gophers are averaging 3.75 runs per game and rank 10th in the Big Ten with a .225 team batting average. Sophomore IF Dan Olinger leads the Gophers with a .370 batting average with five doubles and seven runs scored. Junior C Kurt Schlangen is tied for the team lead with six RBIs and is batting .333 on the season.
Minnesota’s pitching staff has been excellent this season, leading the Big Ten with a 3.20 ERA. The Gophers have held opponents to a .235 batting average. KU will face sophomore LHP Tom Windle on Saturday. The second-year pitcher is 2-1 with a 3.31 ERA in three starts this season with four walks and nine strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings.
Gopher head coach John Anderson is in his 29th season at Minnesota and has a record of 1,063-699-3 at the school. Anderson has led the Gophers to the NCAA Tournament nine times in the last 14 seasons, including back-to-back trips in 2009 and 2010.
LAST TIME OUT: Visiting North Dakota scored four runs in the top of the ninth inning to erase a one-run deficit and down Kansas, 12-9 Wednesday afternoon on a windy day at Hoglund Ballpark. The Jayhawks rallied from an 8-3 deficit with six-straight runs in the middle innings to take a one-run lead to the ninth, but couldn’t hold on.
TAYLOR MADE: The fourth-longest scoreless innings streak to start a season in KU history came to an end on on March 4 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
MARCH MADNESS: Redshirt-junior 1B Jake Marasco has worked his way out of an early-season slump, going 8-for-20 over the team’s last five games, including a four-hit effort Tuesday against North Dakota. Getting back on track in the month of March is not a new trend for the Kansas infielder. Marasco is a .365 hitter (46-for-126) in March games in his career.
Marasco’s four-hit game on Tuesday matched a single-game high for the redshirt-junior, who also had a four hits against Iowa on March 7, 2010.
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 hits the road for the fourth-straight weekend, making their third trip to the Metrodome in the last six seasons. KU is 3-2 under head coach Ritch Price in the building, taking two of three from South Dakota State in 2007 and splitting a doubleheader with Eastern Michigan in 2010.
– KU will be facing Stony Brook for the first time in program history and are 3-0 against current members of America East, going 2-0 against Maine and 1-0 against UMBC.
– The Jayhawks will face Minnesota for the seventh time on the baseball diamond with the Gophers leading the series 4-2. KU is 128-166-1 all-time against current Big Ten members with 244 of those games coming against former conference rival Nebraska.
– Kansas skipper Ritch Price coached his 1,000th game at the Division I level on Tuesday against North Dakota. Price has a .523 winning percentage (522 wins, three ties) in 17-plus seasons at Cal Poly and Kansas.
– KU’s starting pitchers have been stellar this season, posting a combined ERA of 3.34 in 12 games. Of the four pitchers who have started games for KU this season, three of them rank among the top 15 in ERA: Thomas Taylor (12th, 2.29), Wes Benjamin (14th, 3.06) and Frank Duncan (15th, 3.48).
– Kansas pitchers have six quality starts in 12 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 nine of their 12 opponents this season.
– The first inning has been a big inning for KU this year. The Jayhawks have scored 19 of their 64 runs in the opening frame (30 percent).
– KU’s fielding has been rock solid for the early part of the season. The Jayhawks have committed just eight errors in 432 chances this season for a .982 fielding percentage, which ranks fourth in the Big 12. The team’s eight errors are tied for the fewest in the league.
– Senior 3B Zac Elgie hit a grand slam in his first at bat of the series against North Dakota. It was the first Jayhawk four-RBI hit since Brandon Macias’ grand slam against Texas Tech on April 25, 2010.
– Junior Kevin Kuntz ranks sixth in the Big 12 with a .385 batting average through 12 games this season and is also fourth in on-base percentage (.538).
– Kuntz is also the only Jayhawk to reach base in all 12 of the team’s games.
– Senior IF Chris Manship collected his third triple of the season on March 3 against Lousiana, which is the second-most in the Big 12 this year. Manship did not have a triple in his first three seasons at KU, but has three in 24 at bats this season.
– Freshman OF Michael Suiter hit home runs in both games against North Dakota this week. Suiter leads the team with a .994 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage).
– 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 eight 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.
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) 305
3. Dave Bingham (1988-95)…. 249
4. Bobby Randall (1996-2002). 166
5. Marty Patton (1982-87)…… 122
UP NEXT: Kansas will return to San Antonio, Texas on Thursday, March 15 when the team participates in the Irish Baseball Classic at Wolff Stadium. The Jayhawks opens the weekend against Indiana State on March 15 at noon. KU will also face Notre Dame (March 16) and Houston Baptist (March 17) in the tournament.