Jayhawks Host Chicago State in Mid-week Series

March 25, 2008

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After taking four of six games during the week at the Florida Spring Classic, the Kansas baseball team returns home for a seven-game homestand, beginning with a two-game series against Chicago State. The Jayhawks will battle the Cougars Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark. First pitch for both contests is scheduled for 3 p.m.

Gametracker will be available for both games of the Chicago State series at kuathletics.com.

The Series vs. Chicago State

Kansas leads the all-time series with Chicago State, 7-0, dating back to 1993. All seven previous meetings have come at Hoglund Ballpark. Last season KU swept a four-game set with the Cougars, outscoring the visitors 45-7 in the series.

Scouting the Cougars

Chicago State enters the two-game series with Kansas at 3-15, having lost nine straight games. The Cougars started the season at 3-6, claiming two wins over Texas Southern and one at Cincinnati, but have been swept in back-to-back four-game series by Creighton and Centenary.

Junior Josh Applebaum leads the team with a .364 batting average, six homers and 20 RBIs. He has played third base and pitched for the Cougars this season. Outfielder Jonathan Wilson has hit three home runs and driven in eight.

On the mound, senior Robert Vargas has been CSU’s top starting pitcher, going 2-3 with a 7.52 ERA in five starts. Senior right-handed pitcher Chris Goya has made five relief appearances and has a 4.02 ERA in 15 2/3 innings pitched.

Head coach Husain Mahmoud is in his first full season at CSU. Mahmoud took over for Vern Hasty near the end of the 2007 season. Chicago State has nearly surpassed its win total from a year ago, when the team finished 4-53.

Last Time Out

Senior Erik Morrison’s two-out, two-strike single in the top of the eighth brought in Ryne Price with the game-winning run as Kansas rallied from an early five-run hole to knock off Northwestern, 12-11, in a non-conference game played Easter Sunday at IMG Academy Park. Morrison’s RBI single was the end to a game that saw a barrage of runs. The two teams combined for 23 runs and 25 hits.

Noting the Jayhawks

– Kansas will be looking for its sixth consecutive home victory on Tuesday against Chicago State. The Jayhawks are 12-2 in their last 14 games at Hoglund Ballpark, dating back to last season.

– The Jayhawks have proven they know how to come from behind. KU trailed in all four of its wins in Florida, including five-run deficits in games against Dartmouth and Northwestern.

– KU’s win over Northwestern was the team’s fourth one-run victory this season. Last year the Jayhawks were 3-11 in one-run games.

– While KU’s starting pitching has struggled recently, its bullpen has picked up the slack. During the trip to Bradenton, Fla., the bullpen recorded four saves and had 16 strikeouts during the seventh, eighth and ninth innings during the trip. KU is 13-0 this season when they have a lead or are tied after seven innings of play.

– Junior catcher Buck Afenir collected a career high five RBIs Sunday against Northwestern. Afenir was one of the most productive hitters on the trip to Florida, batting .353 with two homers, a double and 10 RBIs.

– Senior John Allman had his third three-hit game of the season Sunday against Northwestern. He currently leads the team with a .333 batting average and a .457 on-base percentage.

– Senior Matt Berner appeared in four games during the week in Bradenton, Fla., and had a key base hit and scored a run against Illinois on March 19.

– Senior Justin Ellrich collected his first double of the season on Friday against UMBC. Last season, Ellrich had a career high seven doubles.

– Junior Nick Faunce started four times in center field during the week in Bradenton, Fla. He has led off an inning 36 times this season and reached base 17 of them for a .472 on-base percentage when leading off an inning.

– Freshman Brian Heere was a defensive replacement in KU’s loss to Ohio State Friday. Heere has reached base four times in 12 plate appearances this season (.333).

– Freshman Greg Herbst was also a defensive replacement Friday against Ohio State. The 6-foot-5 freshman is still perfect on the year, collecting a hit in his only at-bat.

– Junior Preston Land hit .316 during the six games in Bradenton, Fla. with a pair of doubles and a pair of RBIs. His biggest hit came in the top of the seventh of the CCSU game, when he doubled in John Allman with what proved to be the winning run.

– Senior Casey Larson had a three-hit game and a four-hit game during KU’s trip to Bradenton, Fla. Larson also collected two triples in the six games to match Joe Southers for the team lead.

– Freshman Casey Lytle doubled in his first KU at-bat against North Dakota State on March 9.

– Senior Erik Morrison drove in the winning run in Sunday’s 12-11 triumph over Northwestern. Morrison has been one of KU’s most clutch players this season, batting .444 with runners in scoring position and has 11 two-out RBIs.

– Freshman Phil Parrish tripled in his first official collegiate at bat March 9, becoming the sixth different Jayhawk to record a three-base hit this year.

– Sophomore Robby Price had five more sacrifices during the trip to Bradenton, Fla. Price is one sacrifice hit away from matching older brother Ritchie Price for the single-season record. He is also five away from the career record of 35, also held by the eldest Price brother.

– Senior Ryne Price had six more RBIs in six games during the trip to give him 30 during the month of March. In one month, Price has nearly matched his season total of RBIs all of last year, when he finished with 31.

– Senior Joe Southers went 2-for-5 with two runs scored against Illinois on March 19. It marked Southers’ fourth multiple-hit game of the season.

– Freshman Tony Thompson had his second multiple-hit game of the season on March 16 at No. 10 Texas. Thompson also had a two-hit game in the first contest of the season, Feb. 22 at Hawaii-Hilo.

– Freshman Zach Thoma collected his second hit of the season on Friday against Ohio State. He is 2-for-3 in four games this season.

– Sophomore Brett Bollman did some heavy lifting, making four appearances in six games during the week in Bradenton, Fla. The 5-foot-9 sophomore pitched two scoreless innings for the win against Northwestern on Sunday and picked up his first collegiate save on March 20 against Dartmouth.

– Freshman Brett Bochy made a pair of appearances during the week in Bradenton, Fla., and pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings against Illinois on March 19.

– Senior Andres Esquibel recorded KU’s longest start in two years when he tossed eight innings against Dartmouth on March 20. Esquibel’s start was the longest since Kodiak Quick logged eight innings of work against Vanderbilt on Feb. 26, 2006.

– Senior Hiarali Garcia is slated to make his third start of the season on Wednesday against Chicago State. Garcia scatted six hits over 4 2/3 innings in a no-decision against Central Connecticut State on March 20.

– Senior Matt Lane pitched 1 1/3 innings of relief on March 20 against Central Connecticut State for his first victory as a Jayhawk. Lane had made 27 appearances without a decision before the win over CCSU.

– Junior Paul Smyth earned three saves in four appearances during the week in Bradenton, Fla. The third-year reliever was especially efficient in his outing Sunday against Northwestern, needing just 10 pitches to retire six Wildcat hitters and earn his fifth save of the season.

– Freshman T.J. Walz earned a victory in his first collegiate start on Friday against UMBC. The first-year righty scattered seven hits over 6 2/3 innings and allowed just one run with five strikeouts. Walz became the 10th different KU pitcher to record a win this season.

– The Jayhawks claimed win No. 15 on Sunday, 12-11 over Northwestern, in just 24 games this season. Last year, the team did not win its 15th game until the 29th game of the season. With just over a third of the regular season gone by, the Jayhawks are on pace to post 38 wins during the regular season.

Record Breaker

Senior Ryne Price became KU’s career home run leader on Friday, belting a two-run homer against UMBC to break a tie and lift the Jayhawks to a 4-1 win. Price’s 30th homer passes former Jayhawk – and current Texas Ranger – Travis Metcalf, who had 29 round-trippers from 2002-04.

Hitting a clutch home run is nothing new for Price. During his KU career, 10 of his 30 home runs have either tied the game or given KU the lead.

The Buck Starts Here

Junior catcherBuck Afenircollected a career high five RBIs in KU’s 12-11 triumph over Northwestern Sunday morning. After missing over a week of action with an injury, Afenir struggled, going 4-for-18 after returing to the lineup.

However, last week in Bradenton, Fla., he appeared to have found his stroke again, batting .353 in the six games with a pair of home runs and 10 RBIs. He is one of six Jayhawks to collect 10 or more RBIs in the month of March.

Jayhawks Add Game

Due to the game lost to the cold weather on March 7, Kansas will add a game to its schedule. The Jayhawks will play St. Mary’s College in a nine-inning game on April 2 at 6 p.m. at Hoglund Ballpark. Admission to this game will be free of charge.

Lights, Camera, Jayhawks

CBS College Sports, a national cable station devoted to college athletics, announced Feb. 25 that it will broadcast Kansas’ game at Nebraska scheduled for April 20 on tape delay. This marks the second time the Jayhawks can be seen on national television during the 2008 season as the April 12 contest between KU and Texas Tech will be seen on Fox Sports Net.

Up Next

Kansas will play host to No. 22 Texas A&M in their first Big 12 home series of the year beginning Friday, March 28 at 6 p.m. Saturday’s game is slated for 2 p.m., while Sunday’s finale is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start. Audio and video from all three games will be available on Jayhawk All-Access.