Jayhawks Open Big 12 Play at No. 10 Texas

March 13, 2008

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Kansas, undefeated in the month of March, will open up play in the Big 12 Conference this weekend with a three-game series in Austin, Texas against the 10th-ranked Longhorns. Friday’s series opener will be at 6:05 p.m., while Saturday’s first pitch is scheduled for a 2 p.m. start. The teams will conclude the series with a 1 p.m. first pitch on Sunday.

Live audio will be available free of charge on kuathletics.com. Veteran play-by-play man Tom Hedrick will call the action from UFCU-Disch Falk Field. The Longhorns also offer live video and audio, however, it requires a subscription to access both features.

The Series vs. Texas

UT leads the all-time series with Kansas, 31-10, dating back to 1906. After the inital meeting in the early part of the 20th century, the schools did not meet on the baseball field again until 1991, when UT took two-of-three from the Jayhawks in Austin. KU’s only series win in Austin came in 1996, one year before both schools joined the Big 12.

Head coach Ritch Price is 4-12 against the Longhorns at KU, including a series win over UT when it was ranked No. 2 in the country in 2005.

Scouting the Longhorns

Texas, who dropped two of three to Stanford at home last weekend, rebounded with a 9-1 win over No. 15 Rice on Tuesday. Texas enters the first Big 12 series at 10-4 overall with its losses coming to Stanford, Rice and Tennessee.

Sophomore first baseman/left-handed pitcher Brandon Belt leads the Longhorn offense with a .431 batting average, nine doubles and 22 RBIs. Junior Jordan Danks leads the team with two home runs, while the lineup features three players batting over .400.

Junior left-handed pitcher Austin Wood is UT’s staff ace. Wood is 2-1 with a 2.75 ERA in three starts this season. He picked up the only win of the Stanford series, going 7 2/3 innings, allowing just two runs on five hits. Freshman Chance Ruffin is the Longhorns’ closer, posting a pair of saves and an 1.64 ERA in six appearances this season.

Head coach Augie Guerrido is in his 12th season at UT and has a 488-235-1 record at the school. In his 40th season as a Division I head coach, Guerrido is 1,639-759-8, and is a five-time national champion.

Last Time Out

Ryne Price went 3-for-5 with a homer and five RBIs, while Erik Morrison also had three hits as the Jayhawks earned their eighth straight win, 11-7 over Missouri State Wednesday afternoon at Hammons Field. KU remained undefeated in the month of March, but needed a come-from-behind effort to do it.

After surrendering five runs in the fourth inning, KU stormed back with five runs of their own in the seventh to erase a 5-4 deficit.

Noting the Jayhawks

– KU will be looking for its first series win in Austin as a member of the Big 12. The Jayhawks are 5-16 all-time at Texas.

– The Jayhawks are currently riding an eight-game winning streak. It marks the longest streak since the team won the final three games of the regular season, all four games at the Big 12 Championships and the first game of the NCAA Regionals in 2006.

– Head coach Ritch Price collected two historic victories during the mid-week. Price won his 800th game overall as a head coach – this includes wins at the high school, junior college and Division I level – on Tuesday. While on Wednesday he captured his 400th win at the Division I level.

– KU’s five-run inning Wednesday marked the eighth time this season that the Jayhawks have scored five runs or more in an inning. KU has lived by the big inning, going 7-0 in games where it has had an inning of five runs or more.

– The Jayhawks won their first five games at home this season, picking up where they left off last year. KU is 11-2 in its last 13 games at Hoglund Ballpark, dating back to the end of last year.

– Missouri State’s Brayden Drake hit a two-run homer off KU’s Shaeffer Hall in the fourth inning Wednesday. Drake became the first opponent to hit a home run against a Jayhawk pitcher.

– Junior catcher Buck Afenir returned to the lineup Sunday against North Dakota State 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.

– Senior John Allman has raised his batting average by nearly 200 points since the end of the Music City Classic. Allman is batting .688 over his last six games, going 11-for-18 during that span.

– Junior center fielder Nick Faunce collected a single in his first at bat Wednesday against Missouri State. Faunce has reached base 50 percent of the time he’s led off an inning, 12 times in 24 plate appearances.

– Freshman Brian Heere went 1-for-1 in March 9’s 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 March 9.

– Junior Preston Land doubled and scored a run in KU’s 8-1 triumph over Tabor College on Tuesday. Land leads the team with nine extra base hits and a .609 slugging percentage in 14 games.

– Senior Casey Larson has been a key man in the clutch this season, Larson is batting .300 (6-for-20) with men on base and is 3-for-4 with a runner at third and less than two outs.

– Freshman Casey Lytle picked up his first collegiate hit March 9, with a sixth inning double.

– Senior Erik Morrison hit for the cycle in five at-bats spanning two games this week. Morrison hit a leadoff homer in the sixth inning Tuesday before being replaced in the field. He tripled and doubled in his first two at bats Wednesday at Missouri State, and singled in the seventh inning.

– Freshman Phil Parrish tripled in his first official collegiate at bat March 9, becoming the sixth different Jayhawk to record a three-base hit this year.

– Sophomore Robby Price has 10 sacrifice hits in 15 games this season, making him two shy of the sophomore record and seven short of the overall single-season record. Both marks are held by his older brother, Ritchie, who played at KU from 2003-06.

– Senior Ryne Price had five RBIs in Wednesday’s 11-7 win at Missouri State. Price has 18 RBIs during the month of March and four multi-RBI games.

– Senior Joe Southers recorded his second triple of the year March 9 against North Dakota State. 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 collected a hit in his fifth-straight game Wednesday at Missouri State. Thompson has a .261 batting average during the streak, which has raised his season average above the mendoza line at .213.

– Freshman Zach Thoma was the fourth different Jayhawk to collect his first collegiate hit in the sixth inning March 9. Thoma singled to right field in his only at bat of the game.

– Freshman Brett Bochy made his fourth appearance of the season and once again recorded multiple strikeouts. Bochy has eight k’s in five innings of work.

– Sophomore Brett Bollman earned his first victory in a Jayhawk uniform Wednesday against Missouri State. He recorded four strikeouts in the game to give him 13 in 8 2/3 innings this season.

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

– Sophomore Max Ellenbecker made his first appearance of the season Tuesday against Tabor College, pitching 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Ellenbecker has made six career appearances and has not allowed an earned run.

– 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 earned his first victory in a Jayhawk uniform Tuesday against Tabor College. Generally a set up man, Garcia got the start against the Bluejays and pitched three strong innings, allowing one run on two hits and striking out four.

– Sophomore Shaeffer Hall did not receive a decision in Wednesday’s game at Missouri State. However, he struck out seven Bears to give him 15 k’s over his last 10 1/3 innings.

– Senior Matt Lane made an appearance March 1 against Xavier. Lane, a Free State High 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 inning Tuesday against Tabor. Manos has not allowed a run since his first appearance of the season.

– While he didn’t have his best stuff, sophomore Wally Marciel earned his second victory of the season March 5 against Le Moyne. Marciel, Friday’s scheduled starter in the conference opener, was 1-1 with a 3.28 ERA and 14 strikeouts against Big 12 opponents last season.

– Sophomore Thomas Marcin made his third scoreless appearance of the season. Despite high walk totals, Marcin’s career ERA is a respectable 3.60 in 17 appearances.

– 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.

– Head coach Ritch Price said T.J. Walz’ performance on the mound Tuesday was the highlight of game for him. Walz, who did not retire a batter in his first outing as a Jayhawk, pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings against Tabor and struck out a pair of Bluejays.

In My 30 Years of Coaching…

Kansas head coach Ritch Price achieved two milestones during the week. Price collected his 800th career victory in 30 years of coaching Tuesday with an 8-1 triumph against Tabor College. Price’s 800 wins include time spent at Jasper (Texas) and Phoenix (Ore.) high schools, Menlo (Calif.) and De Anza (Calif.) junior colleges as well as at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo and KU.

On Wednesday, Price’s team helped him earn victory No. 400 at the Division I level. This includes 217 wins at Cal Poly and 183 victories with the Jayhawks.

Price’s next milestone will be win No. 200 at KU, something only two other coaches have ever achieved.

The Price is Right

Senior catcher/outfielder Ryne Price has been Mr. RBI in the month of March, driving in at least one run in eight consecutive games. Price’s performances during the streak include a 7 RBI game against Le Moyne, a 5-RBI game Wednesday against Missouri State and a game-winning RBI in the 10th inning against North Dakota State.

His ability to drive in runs has been a big part of KU’s early season succes. The Jayhawks are unbeaten in the 10 games that Price has driven in a run and winless when the KU senior is held without an RBI.

He is currently tied for second in the Big 12 with 22 RBIs this season.

Ramblin’ Man

Senior John Allman has put together a torrid streak of hitting during the month of March. The Jayhawk left fielder, who entered the month batting just .174, has gone 12-for-22 (.545) over his last 10 games with four doubles, two homers and 10 RBIs. He has raised his season batting average to .356 and his on-base percentage from .296 to .516.

Not coincidentally, Allman’s resurgence at the plate has led to his team’s success. The senior has hit safely in seven straight games during the month and has four multi-hit games to his credit.

Going the Distance

Senior Andres Esquibel made the longest relief appearance of his career March 9, picking up the win against North Dakota State. The 6-foot-2 righty entered the game in the top of the second with the bases loaded and nobody out.

After allowing an RBI single to NDSU’s Kole Zimmerman, Esquibel promptly retired 10 straight Bison hitters before a two-out single in the fifth inning.

In all, Esquibel pitched six innings of relief and allowed just two hits and one walk, retiring 17 of the 20 hitters he faced. Last season, Esquibel was a key man out of the bullpen, earning five of his seven wins in relief of KU starting pitchers.

Homeward Bound

Sophomore Wally Marciel returned to his home state of Hawaii and for the second straight season dazzled the Vulcans of Hawaii-Hilo. Marciel went six innings in his first start, allowing just five hits and one earned run, while striking out four.

In two career starts against UHH, Marciel is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA and 10 strikeouts in 11 innings pitched. Last season, the 6-foot righty used his win against UHH to springboard a Freshman All-American campaign in which he went 5-3 with a 3.94 ERA.

Jayhawks Add Game

Due to the game lost to the cold weather on March 7, 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

After its first conference series of the season, Kansas will travel to Bradenton, Fla. during spring break week and play eight games in a five-day span. KU will meet Big Ten members, Illinois, Ohio State and Northwestern as well as other non-conference foes in UMBC, Dartmouth and Central Connecticut State. The Jayhawks open the Florida Spring Classic Wednesday against Illinois at 2 p.m.