Kansas Looks to Rebound Against Northern Colorado
March 20, 2007
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The University of Kansas baseball team returns to the friendly confines of Hoglund Ballpark this week to play host to the University of Northern Colorado in a two-game series, beginning Tuesday at 4 p.m. The teams will conclude the brief series on Wednesday at 4 p.m. <?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>
Scouting the Bears
Northern Colorado (6-9) enters a difficult stretch in its schedule, starting with Kansas this week. Following the two-game series in Lawrence, the Bears will travel to No. 21 Arizona, No. 24 Nebraska and ninth-ranked Arkansas, before attempting to play their home opener in Greeley on April 6. Like KU, Northern Colorado was unsuccessful in getting its first two home series played due to the weather.
First baseman Kevin Sandberg is the team’s catalyst with a .321 batting average, 18 hits and leads the team with 13 RBIs. Senior outfielder Zach Brockman has a team-high .424 batting average and five doubles, despite playing in just nine of the Bears’ 15 games this season.
On the mound, junior right-hander Chris Reap leads the team with a 2-2 record and a 4.88 ERA in five starts. Righty T.R. Keating has been the team’s top pitcher out of the bullpen, posting a 1.20 ERA and 14 strikeouts in eight relief appearances.
Head coach Kevin Smallcomb is in his fifth year with the team and has an overall mark of 112-117 at UNC. Smallcomb took over the program when they were a Division II member in 2002 and has helped them make the transition to Division I. The Bears have been a Division I Independent since 2004.
Smallcomb’s club returns 12 letterwinners and five position starters from last year’s squad which finished 21-30.
Northern Colorado leads the all-time series with Kansas 2-3 after sweeping a two-game series in Lawrence last season.
Last Time Out
The Jayhawks took one of three games at eighth-ranked Texas A&M over the weekend, winning the second game of the series 17-13 in 11 innings on Saturday. Both Saturday and Sunday’s contests came down to the wire as the Aggies took the rubber game, 10-9, with a run in the bottom of the ninth.
Leadoff hitter Kyle Murphy led the way going 7-for-16 (.438) with five runs scored, three RBIs and a stolen base in the series. Second baseman Ryne Price also enjoyed a productive weekend in College Station, batting .429 in the series (6-for-14) with a double, a triple and four runs scored.
Get Your Radio On
The Jayhawks can be heard on 90.7 FM KJHK student radio against Northern Colorado on Wednesday and against Oklahoma State on Sunday.
Rustin Dodd and Luke Monaldo will call the action of Wednesday’s game, while Sunday’s contest will be broadcast by Alex Beecher and Britt Beasley.
We’re Going Streaking
With five hits over the weekend, freshman third baseman Robby Price has now hit safely in 16 straight games, dating back to Feb. 10 of this year. Price’s streak stands as the 14th longest in team history and the longest by a freshman.
Price is chasing former Jayhawk Jared Schweitzer, who collected hits in 24 consecutive games during the 2005 season. Since 2003, three KU players have had hitting streaks of 20 games or more: Schweitzer (24), Ryan Baty (21) and Matt Tribble (20).
Home Sweet Home
Prior to last Wednesday’s loss to Wichita State, Hoglund Ballpark had been a house of horrors for KU’s opponents. The loss snapped an eight-game winning streak at home, which dated back to the Texas A&M series last season.
During the eight-game winning streak, KU had outscored its opponents by a combined score of 100-32 and had hit .373 as a team.
Junior Brock Simpson epitomized the team’s strong offense at home during the streak. The 6-foot-2 right fielder hit .632 with two triples, nine runs scored and nine RBIs during the eight-game stretch at Hoglund Ballpark.
Jayhawk right fielder John Allman has shown a propensity for getting hit by a pitch. During the three-game series with No. 8 Texas A&M, Allman was hit four times to run his season total up to 10 and his career total to 32. Former Jayhawk Ritchie Price holds both the single-season (18) and career (53) for times being hit by pitch.
Allman leads the team with a .402 batting average and has the third-best on-base percentage in the Big 12 at .524.
Sophomore lefty Andy Marks matched a career-high with eight strikeouts against No. 8 Texas A&M on Sunday. The 6-foot-0 lefty leads the team and is second in the Big 12 in strikeouts with 40 this season.
Marks, who likely has at least eight starts left this season, is on pace to become the first Kansas player since 2005 and just the fifth all-time to finish with more than 100 strikeouts in a single-season. The sophomore also has a team-best 11.4 strikeouts/nine innings and a strikeouts to walks ratio of 2.9.
Around the Horn
– KU collected 20 hits in Saturday’s game at Texas A&M. This matched the school record for most hits in a Big 12 game, which has been accomplished three other times.
– The Jayhawks scored 29 runs in the series, the first time the team had scored as many runs in a conference series since they tallied 31 runs against Kansas State at the end of the 2004 season.
– Sophomore catcher Buck Afenir went 2-for-5 and scored twice in Saturday’s win over Texas A&M. Afenir has five multiple hit games this season.
– Junior Ryne Price doubled, tripled and hit .400 for the weekend against No. 8 Texas A&M. The junior drove in the go-ahead run in the ninth on Saturday, only to see the Aggies tie the game in the bottom of the inning.
– Junior Erik Morrison drove in the winning run in Saturday’s extra inning thriller. The shortstop has also played error free since the first Western Illinois game on March 4.
– Freshman Robby Price is in the midst of a 16-game hitting streak. Price is hitting .343 during the streak with four doubles, a triple and 17 runs scored. He is also hitting .378 with runners in scoring position this season.
– Junior John Allman went 3-for-5 against Texas A&M on Saturday. It marked Allman’s ninth multiple hit game of the season, including his fourth with three hits or more.
– Senior Kyle Murphy went 7-for-16 against Texas A&M last weekend and scored five times. Murphy, who started the season as the team’s No. 9 hitter, is one of four KU players with 20+ runs scored.
– Junior Brock Simpson collected his 100th collegiate hit on Saturday with an RBI single in the first inning against Texas A&M. Simpson is the third active player to reach 100 career hits at KU.
– Sophomore Justin Ellrich had a big hit in Saturday’s extra inning win over Texas A&M. Ellrich drove in a pair of runs in KU’s four-run 11th inning with a double to right field. The left-handed hitter is 3-for-8 (.378) as a pinch hitter this season.
– Sophomore Paul Smyth allowed the tying run to score in the ninth inning in Saturday’s win over Texas A&M, but retired the Aggies in order in the 10th and the 11th to earn the victory. Smyth, who’s longest outing last season was five innings, pitched 4 1/3 innings for the win.
– Junior Matt Lane made a pair of appearances over the weekend, pitching an inning of scoreless relief in Friday’s game. It marked Lane’s first games against a Big 12 opponent in his three-year career at KU.
Oh, What a Night
On March 17, Kansas and eighth-ranked Texas A&M competed in a baseball battle of epic proportions. The teams combined for 30 runs and 33 hits in 11 innings of baseball, that ended after KU’s Erik Morrison, Dylan Parzyk and Justin Ellrich drove in runs in the top of the 11th and Jayhawk reliever Paul Smyth retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning.
KU held a 10-2 lead after the top of the fifth, but surrendered eight runs in the bottom of the inning. The Jayhawks took the lead twice before extra innings, only to be equalized again in the bottom of the inning.
The Jayhawks’ top three in the batting order: Kyle Murphy, Robby Price and John Allman combined for nine hits, seven runs scored and seven RBIs.
KU’s game against No. 12 Wichita State drew the biggest home crowd of the season and the 10th largest crowd in Hoglund Ballpark history. The paid attendance of 1,757 was the fourth-largest crowd to see a game between the Shockers and the Jayhawks in Lawrence.
KU set the single-game record last season, drawing 2,324 fans to the annual game with its in-state rival.
Lights, Camera, Jayhawks
KU is scheduled to make three television appearances this season, including one national TV appearance. The Jayhawks’ game against in-state rival Kansas State on May 5 will be seen across the country on Fox Sports Net.
The Jayhawks will also be on TV April 3 in a non-conference game against K-State and April 20 at Texas Tech. Both of those games will be shown on Fox College Sports Central, a cable station available through various sports packages around the country.
Early to Rise
KU’s three-game series against South Dakota State was played at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis.
The Jayhawks and Jackrabbits opened play on Saturday morning with a doubleheader at 1:30 a.m. The second game of the twinbill was suspended due to time constraints and completed Sunday morning at 3:30 a.m., prior to the third game of the series.
The unusual starting times for the three contests were due to the Hurricane Winter Invitational which was already scheduled in the dome that weekend. The invitational featured NCAA Division II and NAIA teams from neighboring states.
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.
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.
The Jayhawks will play host to No. 14 Oklahoma State in a three-game Big 12 series, beginning Friday at Hoglund Ballpark. The opening game of the series will be Friday at 5 p.m., while Saturday and Sunday’s games both be 1 p.m. starts.
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.