Kansas Hosts Penn State, No. 12 Wichita State This Week

March 13, 2007

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The University of Kansas baseball team will look to bounce back with a pair of non-conference home games this week. The Jayhawks will play host to Penn State on Tuesday at 5 p.m., and No. 12 Wichita State Wednesday at 6 p.m. This will mark the first meeting between KU and the Nittany Lions on the baseball field, while WSU will host the Jayhawks on April 18 this year. <?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

Scouting the Nittany Lions

Penn State enters the Tuesday contest with KU at 2-8, having dropped four in a row to nationally ranked competition. PSU was swept by No. 12 Wichita State over the weekend, however all three contests were tightly contested.

Sophomore outfielder Rick Marlin is the Nittany Lions’ top offensive player, leading the team with a .321 batting average and a .536 slugging percentage. He has three of the team’s 10 doubles. Senior Matt Cavagnaro is second with a .318 average.

On the mound, junior Scott Gaffney is 1-1 with a 2.41 ERA with 15 strikeouts in 18.2 innings. Out of the bullpen, right-handed pitcher Drew O’Neil is 1-1 with a 1.59 ERA and a save.

Head coach Robbie Wine is in his third season with the Nittany Lions and has a mark of 50-71 at the school. Wine’s team returns 18 letterwinners and six position starters from last year’s squad which finished 20-36 and seventh in the Big Ten.

This will be the first meeting between the schools.

Scouting the Shockers

Wichita State enters the week at 13-4, having won five in a row after dropping a pair at the beginning of the month. The Shockers are ranked 12th in the latest Baseball America poll.

Junior infielder Damon Sublett leads the team with a .393 batting average, while sophomore third baseman Connor Gillaspie is tops with three homers and 21 RBIs.

Junior right-hander Travis Banwart is the team’s top pitcher with a 4-1 record and a 1.65 ERA with 28 strikeouts in 27.1 innings this season. Sophomore lefty Anthony Capra has been the top man out of the bullpen for WSU with a 2-0 record, an 0.63 ERA and 16 strikeouts in six appearances.

Head coach Gene Stephenson is in his 30th season at WSU and has an overall record of 1,565-515. The Shockers return 21 starters and seven position players from last year’s squad, which advanced to the NCAA Regional Tournament.

WSU leads the all-time series with KU 39-21, however is 5-5 against the Jayhawks under Ritch Price. The teams split two meetings last season with KU winning in Lawrence, 8-3.

Last Time Out

KU fell in three close games at No. 10 Arkansas over the weekend. Senior Kyle Murphy led the Jayhawks with three hits and a career-high five RBIs on Friday, while junior John Allman went 3-for-4 on Sunday afternoon. Sophomore lefty Nick Czyz threw a season-high seven innings and struck out seven Razorbacks but took the loss 4-0 on Saturday.

Jayhawk All-Access

KLWN radio’s broadcast of the games Tuesday and Wednesday will be available online through CSTV’s Jayhawk All-Access package. The action, which will be called by Tom Hedrick and Lee Ice and will accompany the streaming video of the game, which is provided by Rock, Chalk Video.

We’re Going Streaking

Freshman Robby Price extended his hitting streak to 11 games in Sunday’s 5-2 loss at Arkansas. Price’s streak matches the longest hitting streak at KU over the last two years, which is also held by a Price.

Last season, shortstop Ritchie Price had an 11-game hitting streak. Robby Price is hitting .333 during the streak with three doubles and a triple.

Bullpen Brilliance

One of the reasons for KU’s success this season has been the team’s strong work in relief. In 66.1 innings of relief, the Jayhawks’ pen has allowed just nine earned runs and 52 hits, while walking 17 and recording 64 strikeouts.

During the Arkansas series, KU’s bullpen was called on in all three games and surrendered just one earned run in seven innings of work.

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.

Around the Horn

– Tuesday’s game will mark the first time that KU and Penn State have met on the baseball diamond, as well as the first time a Ritch Price-coached squad has met a school from the Big Ten conference.

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

– Sophomore catcher Buck Afenir went 2-for-7 in the Arkansas series, collecting one of KU’s three hits off All-America candidate Nick Schmidt

– Sophomore first baseman Preston Land struggled in the first two games of the Arkansas series, but rebounded with a single and an RBI walk in the third game as a pinch hitter.

– Junior Ryne Price moved to within ten hits of reaching 100 in his career at KU. Price would become the third active Jayhawk to reach 100 career hits.

– Junior Erik Morrison is batting .350 over his last five games, collecing seven hits in 20 at-bats.

– Freshman Robby Price recorded his first three-hit game in a Jayhawk uniform last Tuesday against Tabor.

– Junior John Allman snapped his 10-game hitting streak Friday, however he responded with his sixth double of the season on Saturday and a 3-for-4 effort Sunday. Allman currently leads the team with a .409 batting average.

– Senior Kyle Murphy went 3-for-5 in the opening game Friday against Arkansas and collected a career-high five RBIs. Murphy doubled with the bases loaded and also hit a two-run homer in the game to collect all of his hits in his final three at-bats.

– Junior Brock Simpson hit in all three games in the Arkansas series but is hitting just .214 on the road this season, compared to .818 at home.

– Sophomore Justin Ellrich collected a hit in Sunday’s finale against Arkansas.

– Senior Ross Kelling went 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI in two starts in the series.

– Sophomore Nick Czyz had his third straight quality start of the season on Saturday, but could not earn the win. Czyz went a season-high seven innings and matched a season-high with seven strikeouts.

– Sophomore Paul Smyth allowed his first run of the season. However, due to a throwing error, the run was unearned.

– Junior Hiarali Garcia had his longest outing of the season on Sunday against Arkansas. The righty pitched 2.2 innings in relief of Andy Marks and allowed a run on two hits, while striking out a pair.

– KU has been successful on 18 of 25 stolen base attempts this season. The Jayhawks had just 43 steals last year.

– The start time for Saturday’s game at Texas A&M has been pushed back to 6:30 p.m., from its original time of 2 p.m. This was done to accommodate Texas A&M, who would be scheduled to play during the afternoon if they advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in men’s basketball.

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.

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 travel to College Station, Texas for their first Big 12 series of the season. KU will meet No. 8 Texas A&M on Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Olsen Field. Game times are 6:30 p.m., on Friday and Saturday and 1 p.m., Sunday.

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.