Kansas Baseball Opens Conference Play with Oklahoma State Friday

March 17, 2011

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Games 17-19

Oklahoma State at Kansas

Hoglund Ballpark (2,500) Lawrence, Kan.

Media Coverage:

Friday, March 18

– Live Video

– Live Audio

– Gametracker

Saturday, March 19

– Live Video

– Live Audio

– Gametracker

Sunday, March 20

– Live Video

– Live Audio

– Gametracker

The Kansas Jayhawks will look to snap a three-game losing streak when the team opens conference play with a three-game series against Oklahoma State, beginning Friday, March 18 at 3 p.m. The Jayhawks and Cowboys will complete the series with 1 p.m. games on Saturday and Sunday.

Series History

Oklahoma State leads the all-time series with Kansas, 130-53, including 52-31 in games played in Lawrence. The Cowboys and Jayhawks have been conference foes since 1958, while the schools’ series dates back to 1921. KU is 8-13 against OSU under head coach Ritch Price. In OSU’s last trip to Lawrence, the Jayhawks earned their first ever three-game sweep of the Cowboys.

About the Jayhawks

Kansas enters Big 12 play at 7-9 after losing three-straight. KU dropped the final two games of the series with Eastern Michigan and fell at No. 9 Arkansas, 4-2, on Tuesday.

The Jayhawks’ offense is hitting .220 and averaging 3.1 runs per game. Sophomore Jake Marasco leads the team with a .397 batting average with a homer and seven RBIs. On the mound, the Jayhawks have posted a 3.44 ERA and are holding teams to a .251 batting average. Closer Colton Murray leads the Big 12 with four saves and is 1-0 with a 1.26 ERA in six appearances.

Scouting the Cowboys

Oklahoma State enters the weekend at 12-3 after downing Central Arkansas, 5-3 on Tuesday. The Cowboys have won seven-straight after dropping the first game of the Dairy Queen Classic to Washington State on March 4.

OSU’s offense ranks second in the Big 12 with a .317 batting average and is averaging 6.4 runs per game. Sophomore catcher Dane Phillips leads the Cowboys with a .409 batting average with eight doubles and four triples this season. Junior infielder Zach Johnson is the Cowboys’ top RBI man with 17 and is batting .368 with a .544 slugging percentage.

The Cowboys’ pitching staff has also been impressive this season, posting a 2.03 ERA and holding opponents to a .231 batting average. Kansas will face a murder’s row of Brad Propst, Andrew Heaney and Mike Strong. Heaney has been OSU’s top pitcher, going 3-0 with a 0.91 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 29 2/3 innings on the mound. OSU closer Gabe Weidenaar has recorded a pair of saves and has not allowed an earned run in five innings pitched this season.

Last Time Out

Sophomore Jake Marasco went 2-for-4 with two RBIs, while freshman Alex Cox pitched three solid innings. However, Arkansas used a two-run fourth against the Kansas bullpen to double-up the Jayhawks, 4-2, Tuesday afternoon at Baum Stadium.

Kansas-OSU Connections

– Kansas pitching coach Ryan Graves transferred to Oklahoma State for the 1996 season and helped lead the Cowboys to a College World Series appearance.

– Jayhawk catcher James Stanfield and infielder Kevin Kuntz are both natives of Oklahoma. Stanfield graduated from Owasso High School, while Kuntz graduated from Union High School in Tulsa.

– Oklahoma State senior Duran Davis graduated two years ahead of KU’s Kevin Kuntz at Union High School in Tulsa, Okla.

– Oklahoma State does not have any Kansas natives on the team, however, head coach Frank Anderson graduated from Emporia State University in Emporia, Kan.

– Kansas outfielder Jimmy Waters and OSU pitcher Mike Strong were teammates on the Rochester Honkers of the Northwoods League this past summer.

Wonder Walz

Kansas senior pitcher T.J. Walz continues to move up in the team’s record books. With his 10-strike out, 6 2/3-inning performance against Eastern Michigan on March 11, Walz became the school’s career leader in strikeouts (247). He also ranks in the top 10 in KU history in wins (T-4th, 22), innings pitched (7th, 262.0) and games started (T-5th, 40).

Walz also has more wins, innings pitched, starts and strikeouts than any other Kansas pitcher during the Ritch Price era.

Colton 45

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

The biggest difference in the junior reliever this year compared to previous years has been his ability to control the strike zone. Murray has allowed just one walk in 14 1/3 innings on the hill (0.63 BB/9 IP), compared to 17 walks in 31 2/3 innings last year (4.83 BB/9 IP) and 20 walks in 39 innings in 2009 (4.61 BB/9 IP).

Marvelous Marasco

Kansas third baseman Jake Marasco continued to swing a hot bat for the Jayhawks Tuesday at No. 9 Arkansas. The Jayhawk sophomore recorded his eighth multi-hit game of the season and first multi-RBI game of the year, going 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs.

Marasco currently ranks sixth in the Big 12 with a .397 batting average and is near the top 10 in the league with a .569 slugging percentage and a .453 on-base percentage.

The Price is Right

Kansas head coach Ritch Price is closing in on a career milestone. The Jayhawk skipper enters the weekend 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 while at a D-1 institution.

Diamond Notes

– Kansas opens Big 12 play against Oklahoma State Friday. March 18 is KU’s earliest conference opener since 2008, when the team traveled to Texas on March 14.

– The Jayhawks are 5-9 in Big 12 openers, including 3-5 under head coach Ritch Price. Price’s teams have won the first conference series of the year each of the last two seasons, taking two of three at Baylor last year and sweeping Texas in 2009.

– Opening conference play at home is a rarity for the Jayhawks in the Big 12 era. Since the league began play in 1997, KU has hosted its first conference series just five times.

– Despite ranking at the bottom of the conference in batting average, KU has collected 23 doubles to rank eighth and four homers, which is tied for fifth.

– KU’s pitching ranks sixth in the Big 12 with a 3.44 ERA. The Jayhawks are tied for second in the league in saves (five) and are tied for sixth in walks allowed (56).

– Kansas third baseman Jake Marasco ranks sixth in the Big 12 in batting average (.397) and is tied for sixth in hits (23) and ninth in slugging percentage (.569).

– Starting pitcher T.J. Walz ranks ninth in the league in strikeouts (25), while closer Colton Murray is tied for the Big 12 lead with four saves.

– Sophomore Tanner Poppe ranks eighth in the conference in batting average against (.195).

– Kansas pitcher T.J. Walz recorded 10 strikeouts in a victory over Eastern Michigan on March 11. He became the first Jayhawk to tally double-digit numbers in K’s in a game this season and the first since he recorded 11 strikeouts against Oklahoma State on April 30 of last season.

– Kansas has stolen 16 bases in its first 16 games this season. The Jayhawks did not steal their 16th base last season until their 34th game, on April 16 at Missouri State.

– The Jayhawks’ pitching staff has recorded seven quality starts in 16 games this season. KU recorded 18 quality starts all of last year.

– KU’s pitchers have thrown well in clutch situations. The Jayhawks are holding opponents to a .258 average with men on base and .243 with two outs in an inning.

– The Jayhawks have enjoyed hitting at Hoglund Ballpark this season, batting .273 in their eight home games with a .364 slugging percentage and a .381 on-base percentage. KU is also averaging 4.1 runs per game at home, compared to 2.1 runs per game on the road.

Arkansas Game Leftovers

– KU’s game with No. 9 Arkansas on March 15 marked the Jayhawks’ fifth game against an opponent ranked in the top 10. KU has played three games at No. 1 TCU (Feb. 18-20), one versus No. 7 Arizona State (March 5) and one at No. 9 Arkansas.

– Senior Brandon Macias and sophomore Jake Marasco both extended their hitting streaks to seven-straight games.

– Marasco recorded his eighth multi-hit game and his first multi-RBI game of 2011.

– Relief pitcher Frank Duncan pitched two scoreless innings to extend his streak to 6 1/3 innings without allowing a run.

– Freshman starting pitcher Alex Cox opened the game by retiring the first seven Razorbacks he faced, which included three strikeouts.

– Junior relief pitcher Colton Murray extended his scoreless inning streak to 7 1/3 straight innings. Murray has not allowed a run since a leadoff home run in the 14th inning of the TCU game on Feb. 20.

– Kansas dropped its first game when it did not commit an error. The Jayhawks had been 6-0 during the 2011 season when playing error-free defense.

– Kansas junior James Stanfield made his first start behind the plate this season. Stanfield had been slowed by a shoulder injury this year after starting 43 games behind the plate in 2010.

Up Next

The Jayhawks will complete a four-game homestand with a non-conference contest against Arkansas-Little Rock Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m. Tuesday’s game will be the first of two between KU and UALR this season.