Jayhawks Travel to No. 9 Arkansas Tuesday

March 14, 2011

Game 16: Kansas at No. 9 Arkansas
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Baum Stadium at George Cole Field (10,737)


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After dropping two of three to Eastern Michigan over the weekend, the Kansas Jayhawks will hit the road to take on No. 9 Arkansas Tuesday afternoon in Fayetteville, Ark. The Jayhawks and Razorbacks will meet at Baum Stadium at 3 p.m.

Live audio will be available for this contest at www.kuathletics.com, with veteran play-by-play man Tom Hedrick calling the action.

Series History

Kansas and Arkansas will be meeting for the fifth-straight season in a series that dates back to 1904. The Razorbacks lead the all-time series, 41-26, including 34-12 in games played in Fayetteville. Kansas head coach Ritch Price is 1-7 in his career against the Razorbacks. In all eight of those meetings, Arkansas has been ranked in the Top 25.

About the Jayhawks

Kansas enters its last non-conference game before Big 12 play starts at 7-8. The Jayhawks have been up and down this season, enjoying two three-game win streaks, but also had a three-game losing streak.

As a team, KU is batting .224 with a .320 on-base percentage. The Jayhawks are averaging 3.2 runs per game. Sophomore third baseman Jake Marasco leads the team with a .389 batting average and four doubles, a homer and five RBIs. The Jayhawks’ pitching staff has posted a 3.38 ERA and is holding its opponents to a .250 batting average. Tuesday’s starting pitcher, Thomas Taylor, is 2-0 and has a 2.81 ERA in two starts so far this season. He has one walk and 15 strikeouts in 16 innings pitched this year.

Scouting the Razorbacks

Arkansas enters the midweek showdown with Kansas at 13-2 after taking three of four at San Diego State over the weekend in San Diego, Calif. The Razorbacks are ranked as high as ninth in the latest USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll.

The `Hogs’ offense is averaging 8.1 runs per game and is batting .303. Freshman infielder Dominic Ficociello leads the team with a .431 batting average and nine doubles. Senior Kyle Robinson is tops on the team with three homers and 21 RBIs, while batting .403.

The Razorbacks’ pitching has been one of the best in the SEC, posting a 3.34 ERA and holding opponents to a .232 batting average. Kansas will face freshman right-handed pitcher Ryan Stanek Tuesday. Stanek has no record after three starts. In his last outing, the first-year pitcher went 1 2/3 innings at San Diego State, allowing three runs on three hits.

Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn is in his ninth season at the school and has a record of 332-181 with the Razorbacks and 652-338 overall in 16-plus years as a Division I head coach. Van Horn’s team went 43-21 a year ago and advanced to the Super Regionals.

Last Time Out

KU shortstop Brandon Macias and first baseman Chris Manship each had three hits, but it was not nearly enough Sunday. Eastern Michigan scored three unearned runs in the top of the second and downed the Jayhawks, 10-4, Sunday afternoon in the rubber game of the three-game set at Hoglund Ballpark.

Jake the Snake

While KU’s offense has struggled this season, sophomore third baseman Jake Marasco seems immune to the team’s early season slump. The redshirt-sophomore ranks sixth in the Big 12 with a .389 batting average and is near the conference’s top 10 in slugging percentage (.556) and on-base percentage (.450). Marasco has hit safely in six-straight games, which includes four games with multiple hits.

It’s been a long road back for Marasco, who missed all but 13 games as a freshman after breaking his foot early in the season. He also missed several games last year due to the death of his mother, Carol.

Colton 45

Jayhawk closer Colton Murray has been a sharp-shooter early in the season for KU. The junior has a decision in all five of his appearances, recording a Big 12-best four saves and a victory over then-No. 1 TCU.

The biggest difference in the junior reliever from last season to this year has been his ability to control the strike zone. Murray has allowed just one walk in 13 1/3 innings on the hill (0.68 BB/9 IP), compared to 17 walks in 31 2/3 innings last year (4.83 BB/9 IP).

Bouncing Back

After batting a league-worst .185 as a team over the first three weeks of the season, the Jayhawk bats bounced back in a big way last week. KU hit .324 in four games during its recent homestand with a pair of homers and 18 runs scored (4.5 per game).

The Jayhawks twice recorded 14 hits in a game during their recent homestand and had multi-hit games from seven different players. Most importantly, the team got veterans Casey Lytle and Brandon Macias going last week as both hit safely in all four contests.

The Price is Right

Kansas head coach Ritch Price is closing in on a career milestone. The Jayhawk skipper enters the midweek contest with 497 career wins at the NCAA Division I level. He would become the first Kansas coach and the fourth coach in the Big 12 to amass 500 victories.

Diamond Notes

– Kansas will take on No. 9 Arkansas in a non-conference game Tuesday in Fayetteville. The game will be KU’s fifth against a Top 25 opponent, which ranks second in the Big 12.

– The Jayhawks are 35-52 all-time against current members of the SEC, including 6-10 under head coach Ritch Price.

– Kansas recorded a season-high 14 hits in two of the three games of the Eastern Michigan series. In the three-game set with the Eagles, KU improved its batting average from .198 to .224.

– The Jayhawks’ pitching staff ranks fifth in the Big 12 with a 3.38 ERA. KU’s starting staff has recorded seven quality starts, including Friday by T.J. Walz.

– Walz recorded 10 strikeouts in Friday’s win over Eastern Michigan, which is the most by a Jayhawk this season and the most since Walz tallied 11 at Oklahoma State on April 30 of last year.

– Kansas junior Chris Manship came to life this past week, going 6-for-10 in three starts with a pair of doubles. In the first three weeks of the season, Manship had recorded just one hit.

– Shortstop Brandon Macias has hit safely in six-straight games, dating back to the Arizona State game on March 5. During his streak, Macias is batting .476 with three multi-hit games.

– Kansas has done a pretty good job of setting the table this year. The leadoff man has reached base at a .309 clip. Jake Marasco has been the best at this, reaching base at .533 (8-for-15) when he starts things off.

– The Jayhawks have dominated left-handed hitting this season, holding opposing lefties to a .204 batting average.

– KU’s defense has been a deciding factor in several games this season. The Jayhawks are 6-0 when committing no errors and are 1-8 when committing at least one error.

Eastern Michigan Game Leftovers

– Kansas matched a season high with 14 hits Sunday against Eastern Michigan. The Jayhawks also had 14 hits in their win on March 11 against EMU.

– Kansas first baseman Chris Manship recorded a season-high three hits in Sunday’s loss. It marked his best single-game output since going 3-for-4 against Oklahoma on May 21 of last season.

– The Jayhawks’ shortstop, Brandon Macias, also recorded three hits in Sunday’s loss. It was Macias’ first three-hit game since going 3-for-5 at Arkansas-Little Rock on May 18 last year.

– Both Macias and third baseman Jake Marasco extended their hitting streaks to six games, while catcher Alex DeLeon reached five-straight contests with a hit.

– The Jayhawks matched a season high by committing four errors and hitting into three double plays.

– EMU did most of its damage at the top of the order. The Eagles’ No. 1-3 hitters in the batting order went 11-for-15 against KU and scored seven runs. The bottom six in the batting order went 3-for-25 with three runs scored.

Up Next

The Jayhawks will open Big 12 play this weekend when Oklahoma State comes to town for a three-game set at Hoglund Ballpark. KU and the Cowboys will open the series Friday at 3 p.m., and also play Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.