Jayhawks-Cowboys Square Off in Big 12 Battle

March 23, 2007

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The University of Kansas baseball team will play its first Big 12 series at Hoglund Ballpark this weekend as No. 14 Oklahoma State visits Lawrence for a three-game set. The teams will play the first game of the series Friday at 5 p.m., while Saturday and Sunday’s contests are both scheduled for 1 p.m. <?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

Scouting the Cowboys

Oklahoma State enters the weekend as the best hitting club in the Big 12 and is ranked 14th in the Baseball America national poll. The Cowboys have won three straight and are 10-2 in the month of March. The visit to Lawrence will be OSU’s first conference series of the season.

The Cowboys’ offense leads the Big 12 in batting average (.348), runs (209), home runs (33) and RBIs (191). Senior second baseman Tyler Mach is the conference’s top hitter with a .442 batting average, and the team with 42 hits and 10 doubles. Junior outfielder Corey Brown leads the team with 10 homers, a .929 slugging percentage and 35 RBIs.

On the mound, freshman lefty Andrew Oliver has been the team’s most effective starter, posting a 4-0 mark with a 3.47 ERA in five starts. Out of the bullpen, junior righty Justin Friend has a 2.14 ERA and a team-high 29 strikeouts in seven appearances this year.

Head coach Frank Anderson is in his fourth season at Oklahoma State and has compiled a record of 130-74 (.637) at the school. His team returns 16 letterwinners and six position starters from last year’s squad, which finished second in the Big 12 and 41-20 overall.

OSU leads the all-time series with Kansas, 126-48, but is just 8-5 against KU since Ritch Price took the helm. The Cowboys took two-of-three from the Jayhawks last season in Stillwater.

Last Time Out

The Jayhawks split a doubleheader with non-conference foe Northern Colorado on Wednesday. KU won the first game, 5-4, on a pinch-hit home run from junior Eric Snowden in the bottom of the sixth. Kyle Murphy, John Allman and Ryne Price each had two hits for the Jayhawks. In the nightcap, Ryne Price’s two-run triple gave KU a 2-0 lead after four innings. However, the Bears came back with three runs in their half of the fifth and tacked on another in the ninth for the victory.

In a Pinch

Redshirt junior Eric Snowden hit his first career home run Wednesday to lift the Jayhawks to victory over Northern Colorado in game one of the doubleheader. The 6-foot-2 junior was the first Jayhawk to hit a pinch-hit homer since Justin Ellrich homered at Kansas State on April 23 last season.

Snowden has shown a knack for coming off the bench this season, collecting five hits in nine pinch-hit at bats.

All Good Things Must End

Jayhawk third baseman Robby Price suffered his first hitless game since Feb. 10 on Wednesday in the opener with Northern Colorado. Price had hit safely in 16 straight games, which stands as the 14th longest hitting streak in Kansas history. His 16 game hitting streak was also the longest by a freshman.

After going 0-for-3 in the first game of the twinbill, Price promptly singled in his first at-bat of game two.

Marky Marks

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 third 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.

Flyin’ Ryne

Junior Ryne Price has been surging over the last 10 days. Since going 0-for-2 in the final game of the Arkansas series, Price has hit safely in each of his last seven games, including multiple hits in three of those games.

The junior second baseman has also raised his average from .286 to .326 over the last 10 days, collecting 10 hits, eight runs and six RBIs. Four of Price’s 10 hits since the Arkansas series have been for extra bases, including a pair of triples.

Closing In

With his win over Northern Colorado Wednesday, head coach Ritch Price moved to within seven victories of third place in all time wins at the University of Kansas. Price is chasing former KU coach Bobby Randel, who had 166 career victories with the Jayhawks from 1996 to 2002. Floyd Temple holds the program record with 438 wins in 28 seasons at KU.

Around the Horn

– KU is 5-5 against Oklahoma State in non-road games (4-5 at home, 1-0 at neutral site games) since 2001. The Jayhawks last won a series from the Cowboys in 2005 at Hoglund Ballpark.

– The Jayhawks collected 20 hits in a Big 12 game for the fourth time on Saturday at Texas A&M. The first time it happened was in a game against Missouri in 1997.

– Sophomore Buck Afenir is hitting .310 with men on base, compared to .286 with the bases empty.

– Sophomore Preston Land is 2-for-2 this season with the bases loaded.

– Junior Ryne Price tripled in two runs in the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader against Northern Colorado. The second baseman set a career-high with his third triple of the season.

– Junior Erik Morrison had his seventh multi-hit game of the season in the second game Wednesday against Northern Colorado.

– Freshman Robby Price snapped a 16-game hitting streak, but has hit safely in 21 of hits first 25 collegiate games. Price has gone hitless in back-to-back games just once this season.

– Junior John Allman went 2-for-4 in the first game against Northern Colorado to reach 150 hits in his collegiate career. Allman leads all active players with 151 career hits.

– Senior Kyle Murphy has done well with men on base this season. Murphy is hitting .381 with runners on and has advanced runners 58 percent of the time (29-of-50 times).

– Junior Brock Simpson reached 100 career hits in Wednesday’s doubleheader against Northern Colorado. Simpson is one of four active players with 100 hits or more in a Jayhawk uniform.

– Junior pitcher Andres Esquibel earned his fourth victory of the season in relief in the first game of the doubleheader against Northern Colorado. After a rough weekend, Esquibel responded with 2.2 innings of scoreless relief where he allowed only one base runner, which was erased by a double play.

– Sophomore Paul Smyth earned his fourth save of the season Wednesday. The right-handed closer has allowed just two earned runs in 16 innings this season.

– Senior Ryotaro Hayakawa made the longest relief appearance since his freshman year Wednesday. The right-handed reliever struck out a career-high six Northern Colorado hitters.

– Sophomore Andy Marks has stranded runners with regularity this year. His opponents are hitting .279 with the bases empty this season, but just .196 with runners on.

– KU earned its first one-run victory since the South Dakota State series on Wednesday.

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.

Crowded House

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.

Oh, Brother

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.

Up Next

The Jayhawks will travel to Springfield, Mo. to face the Bears of Missouri State next Tuesday at 7 p.m. It will be the team’s first of two trips next week to the Show Me State. Next weekend, the Jayhawks will renew their Border Showdown rivalry with Missouri in a three-game series in Columbia. Game times are 6 p.m. on Friday and 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

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.