Jayhawks Take On Top-Ranked LSU in Baton Rouge

March 11, 2010


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Kansas vs. LSU

After a successful homestand, the Kansas Jayhawks will take on the No. 1 team in the country when they travel to top-ranked Louisiana State this weekend. The Jayhawks and Tigers will meet at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., at 7 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.

All three games of the LSU series will be broadcast at www.kuathletics.com with Tom Hedrick calling the action.

Series Histories

The Jayhawks and Tigers have split their six previous meetings, which have all taken place in Baton Rouge. LSU swept KU in a three-game series March 10-11 in 1990, however KU returned the favor in 2003. The three-game sweep over the No. 6 Tigers gave Head Coach Ritch Price his first sweep of a ranked team as the Jayhawk skipper.

About the Jayhawks

Kansas has won four straight for the second time this year, taking the last two games of the Iowa series and a pair of mid-week contests against non-Division I foes. During the streak, KU has outscored its opponents by a 48-11 margin.

KU’s offense has picked up after a slow start to the season. The Jayhawks are batting .307 as a team with 28 doubles and six home runs. KU is averaging 7.9 runs per game. Junior Jimmy Waters paces the offense with a .351 batting average and a team-best three homers and 18 RBIs. The junior is tied for the Big 12 lead with 18 runs scored as well.

On the mound, KU has been solid, sporting a 3.36 ERA and 99 strikeouts in 107 innings. Opposing teams are batting .244 against the Jayhawks’ staff. Senior Cameron Selik leads the team with a 3-0 record and a team-best 1.40 ERA.

Scouting the Tigers

LSU enters the weekend undefeated and ranked No. 1 in the country. The defending national champions are dominating their competition, outscoring their opponents 113-51 this season.

As a team, the Tigers have batted .341 and have averaged 9.4 runs per game. Junior catcher Micah Gibbs leads the team with a .452 batting average, with three homers and 15 RBIs, while senior outfielder Matt Gaudet has a team-best five homers and 15 RBIs.

The Jayhawks will face the tandem of Jordan Rittiner, Joey Bourgeois and Austin Ross on the mound. Rittiner has posted a 2-0 record with a club-best 1.29 ERA. Ross leads the Tigers in strikeouts (19), but has allowed a 5.28 ERA and two homers.

LSU Head Coach Paul Mainieri is in his fourth season at LSU and has led the team to a 146-62 record, and back-to-back College World Series appearances. The Tigers won last year’s national championship, and return eight position starters and 10 pitchers from the 2009 team which finished with a 56-17 overall record.

Last Time Out

The Kansas offense clubbed four home runs, including a second-inning grand slam by junior Jimmy Waters as the Jayhawks routed Tabor College, 15-0 Wednesday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark. Along with Waters, Brian Heere, Jason Brunansky and Alex DeLeon all went deep for the Jayhawks.

Waters Run Deep

Junior Jimmy Waters has experienced a power surge over the last 10 days. After going homerless during his sophomore season, the third-year left fielder has clubbed three in the last seven games, including his first career grand slam on Wednesday against Tabor College.

In the absence of pre-season All-American Tony Thompson, Waters has provided the punch in the middle of the order. He leads the team in RBIs (18), runs scored (18), slugging percentage (.676) and on base percentage (.538).

Cameron Crazy

Kansas senior Cameron Selik has been the Jayhawks’ most consistent pitcher this season, posting a 3-0 record on the mound with three consecutive quality starts.

Selik, who was named Big 12 co-Pitcher of the Week on March 1, has gone at least six innings in every start and allowed two runs or less as well as six hits or less each time out.

The senior, who had Tommy John surgery while at Grossmont College in 2008 and missed the entire season, turned a corner last year with his final start of the season. Selik earned a win over Coastal Carolina in the NCAA Tournament, allowing one run on three hits over 6 2/3 innings.

Dating back to that start, Selik has a 4-0 record with a 1.04 ERA and held opponents to a .162 batting average.

Brett the Jet

Senior first baseman Brett Lisher continued to swing a hot bat last week, collecting seven hits in the recent series against Iowa. The Lawrence, Kan., native leads the Jayhawks in batting average (.500), and is second in on-base percentage.

Coming into the season, the senior first baseman was expected to platoon at first, and see time at DH. However, his hot start has earned him a place in the starting lineup.

Moving On Up

Kansas Head Coach Ritch Price made history this week, with two wins over non-conference foes at home. Price became the second-winningest coach in Kansas history, passing former head coach Dave Bingham with 251 wins as Jayhawk skipper.

Bingham coached for eight seasons at Kansas (1988-95) and compiled a 249-225 record (.525). Price has won 251 games from the KU dugout and boasted a .561 winning percentage in his seven-plus seasons.

Legendary head coach Floyd Temple is the winningest coach in Jayhawk history, posting a 438-396-5 record (.524) over 28 seasons with the team (1954-81).

Four On the Floor

Four-hit games have become common in the early part of the season for the Jayhawks this year. Three different Kansas hitters have recorded four-hit performances this season, including Brett Lisher and Jake Marasco last weekend against Iowa.

Sophomore catcher Chris Manship started the four-hit party with a 4-for-4 night against Sacramento State on Feb. 27.

Lisher and Marasco followed with four-hit games on March 6 and 7 against the Hawkeyes last weekend. Prior to this season, none of the three players had as many as two hits in a single game. KU players had just seven games with four hits or more all of last year.

All About Quality

Kansas starting pitchers have recorded quality starts in seven of the team’s first 12 games this season, going at least six innings and allowing three runs or less. Senior Cameron Selik and junior T.J. Walz have three quality starts each, while senior Brett Bollman allowed three runs over 6 1/3 innings against Sacramento State on Feb. 26.

Last season, Jayhawk starters collected 22 quality starts and earned wins in 17 of those games. Walz led the staff with seven quality starts in 2009.

Around the Horn

– Kansas travels to No. 1 and defending national champion LSU this weekend for a three-game series in Baton Rouge. This marks the second time in as many seasons that KU has faced a top-ranked team, sweeping then-No. 1 Texas March 20-22 last season.

– Kansas has played the No. 1 team in the country six times since 1992, and is 4-2 in those games. In addition to the three-game sweep of Texas last year, KU went 1-2 against Wichita State during the 1992 and ’93 seasons when the Shockers were the top-ranked team in the country.

– The Jayhawks have done a pretty good job of getting an early jump on teams this season. KU has outscored its opposition 48-10 over the first three innings of the game, including 16-1 in the second frame.

– Kansas has hammered left-handed pitching this season, batting .338 against southpaws. The Jayhawks are also 4-0 versus left-handed starting pitchers.

– Freshman Alex DeLeon hit his first collegiate home run Wednesday against Tabor College. The freshman catcher went hitless in his first 14 at bats, but has two hits in his last five at bats.

– Kansas catcher Chris Manship returned to his home state of Arizona and delivered a 4-for-4 performance against Sacramento State on Feb. 27. Making Manship’s day even more remarkable was the fact that he wasn’t in the starting lineup. The sophomore catcher entered the game as a pinch hitter in the third inning.

– First baseman Zac Elgie snapped an 0-for-14 slump with a single against Tabor College on Wednesday. The sophomore got off to a slow start last season as well, but hit .338 (24-for-71) over the final two months of the season.

– Senior Brett Lisher has hit safely in five of his last seven games, including multiple hits in three of those contests. Lisher recorded seven hits in the four-game series with Iowa after tallying nine hits all of last year.

– Senior Robby Price continues to rank among the Big 12 leaders in on-base percentage. Price has collected 11 hits this season, but has also drawn 10 walks and been hit by pitch eight times for a .500 on-base percentage.

– Sophomore James Stanfield has hit safely in six-straight games, dating back to the Feb. 27 game with Gonzaga. Stanfield has produced in clutch situations this year, batting .455 with two outs in an inning, and .313 with runners on base.

– Junior Brandon Macias found his stroke this past week, going 2-for-5 against Saint Mary and Tabor. Macias’ two-hit game was his first multi-hit game of the season.

– Junior Jimmy Waters leads the team with a .538 on-base percentage and a .676 slugging percentage. Waters’ 1.214 OPS ranks near the top of the Big 12.

– Sophomore Jason Brunansky tallied his second three-hit game of the season on March 5 against Iowa. In 53 games last year, Brunansky had nine multiple-hit contests; while this year he has three in just six starts.

– Center fielder Brian Heere has also overcome a slow start, and has recorded seven hits in his last 13 at bats, including his first home run of the season on Wednesday against Tabor College.

– Right fielder Casey Lytle has been an effective lead-off hitter, batting .474 (9-for-19) when batting first in an inning.

– Junior pitcher T.J. Walz held Iowa to one unearned run over eight innings on March 5. The outing was the longest for Walz since his complete game shutout of Baylor on April 4 of last season.

– Senior Cameron Selik has allowed just two extra base hits this season, giving teams a .232 slugging percentage against the Jayhawk right-hander.

– Senior right-handed pitcher Brett Bollman suffered his first loss since the 2008 season on March 5. Bollman allowed five runs on nine hits over 5 2/3 innings against Iowa. Bollman’s last loss came against Kansas State in KU’s last game of the 2008 season.

– Freshman Tanner Poppe bounced back from a rough outing by pitching five hitless innings against Saint Mary on Tuesday. Poppe picked up his first collegiate win, allowing no runs on no hits with two walks and four strikeouts.

– Redshirt freshman Thomas Taylor earned his first collegiate victory on Wednesday against Tabor College. Taylor, who missed the entire 2009 season with an injury, went three innings against the Bluejays and allowed no runs on four hits with four strikeouts.

– Senior Travis Blankenship made three appearances in the last week. In 2009, Blankenship set the school record by pitching in 40 games, and leads the team in relief appearances this year with seven.

– Junior Brett Bochy has been the Jayhawks’ top relief pitcher this year, holding opponents to an .091 batting average with 14 strikeouts in 6 2/3 innings.

– Junior Scott Heitshusen made his first appearance in a Kansas uniform Tuesday, pitching a scoreless eighth inning against Saint Mary.

– Redshirt freshman Jordan Jakubov pitched two scoreless innings Tuesday against Saint Mary. Jakubov recoreded three strikeouts in his outing.

– Junior Matt Kohorst made his third-straight scoreless relief appearance Wednesday, allowing no runs on one hit to Tabor.

– Redshirt junior Wally Marciel has been an effective relief pitcher this season. Marciel earned his first win since 2008 on March 7 against Iowa. Marciel has held opponents to a .208 batting average this year.

Up Next

Kansas will continue its trip through the state of Louisiana, traveling to New Orleans for a two-game midweek series with Tulane beginning Tuesday, March 16 at 6 p.m. Both games of the series will be carried via internet broadcast on www.kuathletics.com.