Jayhawks Host Tabor, Travel to Missouri State This Week

March 11, 2008

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Winners of six straight, the Kansas baseball team will play a pair of non-conference games this week before opening up play in the Big 12 this weekend. The Jayhawks will meet TaborCollege Tuesday at 3 p.m., before traveling to MissouriState for a Wednesday afternoon game at 4 p.m. in Springfield, Mo.

Gametracker will be available for both games at www.kuathletics.com

The Series vs. Tabor

Kansas has met NAIA member Tabor four times in the last five years, winning all four meetings. KU defeated the Bluejays, 18-2, last season at Hoglund Ballpark.

The Series vs. MissouriState

The Bears lead the all-time series with Kansas, 20-19, which dates back to the 1988 season. MSU is 12-7 against the Jayhawks in Springfield, including a 7-2 triumph on March 27 of last year. KU has not won at Hammonds Field since a 7-6 triumph on April 27, 2004.

Scouting the Bluejays

Tabor College snapped a five-game losing streak with a 6-3 triumph over CentralChristianCollege on Saturday. Despite a 5-11 record, the Jays have hit the ball fairly well, entering the Tuesday contest with a .309 team batting average.

Junior left fielder Alfred Wilson leads the team with a .373 batting average, eight doubles and has knocked in 11 runs. Freshman second baseman Tyler Suderman and senior catcher Chris Brown are tied for the team lead with three home runs each.

Sophomore Andrew Cook sports a 2-1 record on the mound with a 5.40 ERA and 13 strikeouts in three starts so far this season. Suderman, also a right-handed pitcher, also has two wins on the mound as well as TC’s only complete game.

Head coach Chad Newhard is in his first season at Tabor. He inherited a squad which finished 19-26 last season and placed fifth in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference (KCAC).

Scouting the Bears

Missouri State, like Kansas, enters the week on roll, having won five of its last six. The Bears swept Iowa in a three-game series over the weekend to improve to 8-2 in their first 10 games.

MSU is paced by five hitters batting over .340 for the season, which includes Ben Carlson’s team-leading .444 average. Carlson, a sophomore first baseman, also leads the team with four homers and an .861 slugging percentage. Brayden Drake had a big series against the Hawkeyes, going 6-for-14 with a double, a triple and 11 RBIs.

The Bears have not announced a starting pitcher for Wednesday’s game. Freshman Aaron Meade leads the team with a 2-0 record and a 1.98 ERA, while junior righty Matt Frevert is 2-0 without allowing an earned run in five innings of relief.

Head coach Keith Guttin is in his 26th season at MSU and has an overall record of 872-538 at the school, which ranks 23rd among active Division I coaches. Guttin’s team finished last year in a tailspin, placing eighth in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 23-34 overall record.

Last Time Out

KU’s offense scored 24 runs and banged out 29 hits in a doubleheader sweep of North DakotaState Sunday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark. Junior Nick Czyz pitched six shut out innings and struck out 11 in the opener, which KU won 13-0. Senior Erik Morrison paced a 14-hit attack with three hits and three RBIs in the Jayhawks’ 11-9 triumph in the nightcap.

Noting the Jayhawks

– Kansas will be looking for its seventh-straight victory Tuesday against TaborCollege. It would mark the Jayhawks’ longest streak since taking eight consecutive games during the end of the 2006 season, which included the Big 12 Championship.

– A win Tuesday would also be historic for head coach Ritch Price.Price is one win away from collecting his 800th all-time as a head coach. This includes time at the high school, junior college and Division I levels.

– Price could also collect his 400th win at the NCAA Division I level with a pair of victories this week. The 13-year veteran is 398-375-2 combined at Cal-Poly and Kansas.

– The fourth inning has been especially fruitful for the Jayhawks this season. KU has outscored its opposition 23-3 in the fourth frame this year, which included a six-run fourth in one of Sunday’s wins over North DakotaState.

– KU’s six-run inning of the second game Sunday marked the seventh time this season that the Jayhawks have scored five runs or more in an inning. KU has lived by the big inning, going 6-0 in games where it has had an inning of five runs or more.

– The Jayhawks won their first four games at home this season, picking up where they left off last year. KU is 10-2 in its last 12 games at Hoglund Ballpark, dating back to the end of last year.

– Junior catcher Buck Afenir returned to the lineup Sunday against North DakotaState and immediately made his presence felt. Afenir homered in his first at bat back from a hamstring injury, his first round-tripper of the year. The KU catcher is currently riding a seven-game hitting streak.

– Senior John Allman got back on track last week, hitting .636 in the first four home games at Hoglund Ballpark (8-for-13). The 6-foot-2 left fielder is hitting .418 in his career at home.

– After a tough start to the series, Nick Faunce came back around with a pair of doubles in the nightcap Sunday against North DakotaState. Faunce leads the team with a .469 on-base percentage.

– Freshman Brian Heere went 1-for-1 in Sunday’s 13-0 win over NDSU. Heere was one of 12 Jayhawks to collect a hit in the KU rout.

– Freshman Greg Herbst recorded his first collegiate hit and RBI with a sixth-inning single against NDSU Sunday.

– Junior Preston Land hit his first triple of the season in the second game of Sunday’s doubleheader. Land leads the Jayhawks with 26 total bases in 12 games this year.

– Senior Casey Larson snapped a six-game hitting streak by going 0-for-4 in Sunday’s series finale. Larson has been tremendous in the clutch this year, hitting .375 (6-for-16) with men on base and .333 (4-for-12) with runners in scoring position.

– Freshman Casey Lytle picked up his first collegiate hit Sunday, with a sixth inning double.

– Senior Erik Morrison recorded his fourth multi-RBI game of the year in Sunday’s 11-9 win over NDSU. Morrison leads the team in this category and is tied for second with four multiple hit games.

– Freshman Phil Parrish tripled in his first official collegiate at bat Sunday, becoming the sixth different Jayhawk to record a three-base hit this year.

– Sophomore Robby Price went 4-for-6 with four runs scored in Sunday’s twinbill. Price led the team last year with 43 runs scored.

– Senior Ryne Price drove in 12 runs during the four games last week, which included a seven RBI game Wednesday against Le Moyne. He also had the game-winning RBI in Saturday’s 4-3 extra inning triumph over NDSU.

– Senior Joe Southers recorded his second triple of the year Sunday against North DakotaState. Southers is the first KU catcher to record more than one triple in a season since Andrew Spitzfaden had two during the 2006 season.

– Freshman Tony Thompson hit his first collegiate home run Saturday against NDSU. Thompson’s solo shot was one of two RBIs for the Kansas third baseman in the game – his first multi-RBI game of the year.

– Freshman Zach Thoma was the fourth different Jayhawk to collect his first collegiate hit in the sixth inning Sunday. Thoma singled to right field in his only at bat of the game.

– Sophomore Brett Bollman worked two more scoreless innings this weekend against NDSU. Bollman has a team-best 1.50 strikeouts per inning ratio this year after fanning four Bison hitters Saturday.

– Junior Nick Czyz rebounded from a pair of rough starts, pitching six scoreless innings against North DakotaState. Czyz recorded a career high 11 strikeouts in the game, giving him 20 in two games against the Bison.

– Senior Andres Esquibel picked up his first victory of the season Sunday, pitching six innings of relief against NDSU. Esquibel has allowed just one earned run in 16 innings of work this season.

– Senior Hiarali Garcia is slated to make his first start as a Jayhawk Tuesday against TaborCollege. Garcia has made 25 relief appearances in his Jayhawk career and excelled against right-handed hitters.

– Sophomore Shaeffer Hall pitched five innings against NDSU Saturday, but did not factor into the decision. Hall struck out a season-high eight Bison in his start.

– Senior Matt Lane made an appearance March 1 against Xavier. Lane, a Free StateHigh School graduate, was one of four Firebirds on the field in the eighth inning of that game. Lane was joined by FHS alums Matt Berner, Ryne Price and Robby Price.

– Junior Daniel Manos pitched a scoreless eighth inning Wednesday against Le Moyne. Manos allowed three hits and three unearned runs in his first outing of the year, but retired the Dolphins quietly Wednesday.

– While he didn’t have his best stuff, sophomore Wally Marciel earned his second victory of the season Wednesday against Le Moyne. His four strikeouts gave him the team lead with 10 punch outs in 16.2 innings.

– Junior Paul Smyth came into a tough situation Sunday and recorded his second save of the year. With the tying run on second base and one out, the Jayhawk closer recorded a ground out and a strikeout to end the game.

In the Nick of Time

Junior Nick Czyz solidified his spot in the weekend rotation with a stellar performance against North DakotaState Sunday. The 6-foot-2 junior struck out a career high 11 Bison and allowed just four hits in six scoreless innings of work.

Czyz, who’s previous career high of nine strikeouts also came against NDSU, kept the Bison hitters off-balance with a good mix of speeds. His 11 k’s were the most by a Jayhawk pitcher since Mike Zagurski struck out 12 Missouri hitters on May 14, 2005.

The Price is Right

Senior catcher/outfielder Ryne Price was Mr. RBI during KU’s first week of home games. Price drove in a career-high seven runs in Wednesday’s triumph over Le Moyne. The senior then collected five more RBIs during the three game series with North DakotaState, including the game-winning RBI on Saturday.

Price leads the team and is currently sixth in the Big 12 with 16 runs batted in. The team is 8-0 in games where Price has driven in a run.

Ramblin’ Man

Senior left fielder John Allman also rebounded from a slow start with a torrid week at home. The 6-foot-2 outfielder entered the week batting .172, but after going 7-for-11 in four home games, Allman raised his season average to an even .300.

Hitting well at home should come as no surprise, as Allman has always swung a big bat at Hoglund Ballpark. In three-plus seasons, the Kansas left fielder is batting .418 with 25 doubles, two triples and eight home runs in home games. He also has a .539 on-base percentage and a .635 slugging percentage.

Jayhawks Add Game

Due to the game lost to the cold weather over the weekend, Kansas will add a game to the schedule. The Jayhawks will play St. Mary’s College in a nine-inning game on April 2 at 6 p.m. at Hoglund Ballpark. Admission to this game will be free of charge.

Up Next

Kansas will open up play in the Big 12 this weekend with a three-game series at No. 12 Texas. The Jayhawks and Longhorns will meet at 6:05 p.m. Friday to open the series and play at 2 p.m. Saturday before concluding their first conference series of the year at 1 p.m. Sunday. Fans can follow the action on www.kuathletics.com as veteran play-by-play man will call all three games from UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

Season Tickets on Sale

Kansas baseball season tickets are on sale now. Fans can order tickets by calling the Jayhawk ticket office at 800-34-HAWKS or by logging on to kuathletics.com.