Jayhawks Travel to Florida For Busy Week

March 17, 2008

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Kansas, victorious in nine of its last 11 games, will travel to Bradenton, Fla. for the Florida Spring Classic at the IMG Academy Baseball Complex as well as Robert C. Wynn Field on the campus of Manatee Community College. The Jayhawks will play eight games in five days over KU’s spring break beginning with a Wednesday game against Illinois at 2 p.m.

KU will meet Dartmouth (9:30 a.m. CST) and Central Connecticut State (12:30 p.m. CST) on Thursday; Ohio State (1 p.m. CST) and UMBC (6 p.m. CST) on Friday before concluding action with a three-game series against Northwestern on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s doubleheader will begin at 1 p.m. CST, while first pitch for Sunday’s finale is scheduled for 8 a.m. CST. Game tracker will be available for all eight contests at kuathletics.com.

The Series vs. Illinois

Illinois leads the all-time series with KU, 2-0, dating back to 1976. The schools have met twice, both on neutral fields, with the Fighting Illini winning both games. In the most recent meeting Illinois topped KU, 7-3 on March 13, 1982 in Tulsa, Okla.

The Series vs. Ohio State

The Jayhawks and Buckeyes have split their only two meetings, with the last one coming in 1996. KU defeated Ohio State at the NCAA Regionals in 1994, 20-6, setting the school record for most runs scored in a postseason contest.

OSU took the most recent meeting, 17-7, in a neutral site game on Feb. 25, 1996.

The Series vs. Northwestern

The Wildcats lead the all-time series with KU, 3-0, with wins in 1995, 1999 and 2001. The two most recent meetings happened at neutral sites, Round Rock, Texas (1999) and Phoenix, Ariz. (2001). In both games, NU claimed 5-4 triumphs.

Scouting the Illini

Illinois enters the week with a 4-5 record and is currently sixth in the Big Ten. The Illini sandwiched wins over Eastern Kentucky and Akron in between a 9-4 loss to Miami University in Bradenton over the weekend.

Junior outfielder Kyle Hudson leads the Fighting Illini with a .433 batting average and a .553 on base percentage, while sophomore Brandon Wikoff has the team lead with 10 RBIs and two triples.

U of I will send Kevin Manson to the mound in Wednesday’s game with the Jayhawks. Manson is 1-0 this year with a 3.55 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 12 2/3 innings pitched.

Head coach Dan Hartleb is in his third season at Illinois and has a record of 64-61. Hartleb’s team posted a 31-27 record last year to place fifth in the Big Ten.

Scouting the Big Green

Dartmouth enters the week with an even 3-3 mark, which ranks it first in the Rolfe Division. The Big Green took one of three games over the weekend, dominating Central Connecticut State, 12-2, before falling to Ohio State and St. Louis University.

Through six games, senior Damon Wright is Dartmouth’s top hitter with a .529 batting average, while sophomore Nick Santomauro is hitting .250 with a double, a homer and two triples.

Senior lefty Russell Young leads Dartmouth’s pitching staff with an 0.75 ERA and a 1-1 record in two starts. He took the loss in Friday’s game against SLU.

Head coach Bob Whalen is in his 20th year as head coach at Dartmouth and has an overall record of 327-363.

Scouting the Blue Devils

Central Connecticut State enters the week with a 2-6 record, which ranks them third in the Northeast Conference. CCSU defeated Iona and Navy during the week before falling to Dartmouth on Sunday.

Senior outfielder Jak Kidd is batting .333 with three doubles, a triple and eight RBIs, while sophomore first baseman Tommy Meade is batting .323 with two doubles, a homer and seven driven in.

Senior righty John Tesseyman leads the CCSU staff with a 1-1 record and a 3.94 ERA. He pitched a complete game, allowing three runs on seven hits in the Blue Devils’ 5-3 win over Navy last week.

Head coach Charlie Hickey is in his ninth year at CCSU and has compiled a record of 207-162. Hickey led the Blue Devils to NCAA Regional appearances in 2003 and 2004.

Scouting the Buckeyes

Ohio State has the best record of KU’s opponents for the week, entering with a 7-4 mark, placing it second in the Big Ten. The Buckeyes have won three straight, including a pair of games over the weekend against Harvard (9-7) and Dartmouth (14-9).

Junior J.B. Shuck leads the regulars with a .432 batting average with two doubles and a triple, while senior Tony Kennedy has the team lead with two homers and has knocked in 11 runs.

Shuck is also Ohio State’s top pitcher, posting a 3-1 mark with a 4.09 ERA in four starts. Freshman righty Drew Rucinski has been the Buckeyes’ top man out of the bullpen with a 2.25 ERA and a 1-1 record in four appearances.

Head coach Bob Todd is in his 21st season at OSU and has an overall record of 808-413. Todd led the team to a 38-24 record last year and a trip to the NCAA Regionals.

Scouting the Retrievers

The University of Maryland-Baltimore County enters the week with a 4-5 mark after defeating Bradley, but falling to Eastern Kentucky at the Florida Spring Classic last weekend.

Senior Will Delawter leads the team with a .526 batting average, four homers and 16 RBIs in nine games, while senior Joe Fowler has two homers and 11 runs batted in to his credit.

Junior righty Dan Blewett is UMBC’s top pitcher. Blewett is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in three starts. He went eight innings and allowed four earned runs on eight hits in Saturday’s loss to Eastern Kentucky.

Head coach John Jancuska is 637-616 in his 30-plus seasons at UMBC.

Scouting the Wildcats

Northwestern will play a three-game series with KU to wrap up its week in Florida. NU has a 4-5 record as of Monday, losing two of three to Illinois-Chicago over the weekend.

Senior outfielder Mike Kalina is by far the Wildcats’ top hitter with a .564 batting average, four doubles, a homer and 13 RBIs in nine games, while freshman Nate Roberts is hitting .364 with 12 RBIs.

The Jayhawks will likely see freshman Eric Jokisch in one of the weekend games. Jokisch enters the week with a 1-0 record and a 3.32 ERA in three starts this season. Jokisch pitched a complete game in Saturday’s win over UIC.

Head coach Paul Stevens is in his 21st season at NU and has an overall mark of 522-586.

Last Time Out

Texas native Sam Freeman pitched six strong innings to pick up his third victory of the season, while senior Ryne Price had a two-run single in the seventh inning to break open the game as Kansas stunned the 10th-ranked Longhorns, 7-2, Sunday afternoon at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

A Charging Ryno

Senior Ryne Price has ripped through opposing pitching during the month of March. His hot hitting continued last week as he collected three multiple hit games, three multiple RBI contests as well as a two-homer game Friday at No. 10 Texas.

Price’s second home run tied him with Travis Metcalf for the most career round-trippers in school history with 29.

The senior outfieler/catcher has carried a hot bat, driving in 24 runs during the month of March, including nine more last week in games against Missouri State and Texas. Price has driven in runs in all 11 of KU’s victories this season.

Sam I Am

Junior Sam Freeman returned to his home state of Texas and shut down the hometown Longhorns for six innings Sunday.

Freeman, a junior from Carrolton, Texas, dazzled the UT hitters with a fastball and a slow curve, allowing two runs on five hits with three strikeouts. The 6-foot lefty had a shutout going with two outs in the sixth, before allowing a two-run homer to Brandon Belt.

Freeman bounced back to strikeout Kyle Russell to put a final exclamation point on his third victory of the year.

Finding Emo

While it didn’t show up in the box score, senior Erik Morrison had an exceptional day in the field Sunday at No. 10 Texas. The senior shortstop had 11 infield assists and turned two double plays in the game. His 11 assists are the most in a game during the Ritch Price era, dating back to 2003.

Morrison also had a fine day at the plate, collecting two hits and scoring twice. Like his fellow seniors Ryne Price and John Allman, Morrison has also gotten hot during the month of March, batting .385 during the month with nine runs scored, 13 RBIs and a .590 slugging percentage.

Ramblin’ Man

Senior John Allman went 3-for-5 in the series finale at No. 10 Texas on Sunday, posting his sixth multiple hit game in the month of March.

Allman, who entered the month batting just .174, has raised his batting average nearly 200 points to a team-best .351. He had a nine-game hitting streak snapped in Saturday’s 6-1 loss at Texas, but bounced back with his second three-hit game of the season.

Up Next

Kansas will return home from Florida to open a five-game homestand, beginning with a two-game series against Chicago State on Tuesday, March 25. The Jayhawks and Cougars will meet at 3 p.m. on Tuesday and again at 3 p.m. on Wednesday before KU takes on Texas A&M in its first Big 12 series at Hoglund Ballpark, beginning March 28.

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.