Jayhawks Start Conference Play at Baylor This Weekend
March 25, 2010
LAWRENCE, Kan. –
Kansas vs. Baylor
After a pair of home wins during the week, the Kansas Jayhawks will open conference play this weekend when they travel to Baylor for a three-game series. The Jayhawks and Bears will meet at 3 p.m. on Friday and Saturday afternoon before a 1 p.m. finale on Sunday.
Audio from all three games in the series will be available at www.kuathletics.com, with veteran play-by-play man Tom Hedrick calling the action.
The Jayhawks and Bears have met 45 times on the baseball diamond, with Baylor holding a 39-6 edge, including a 20-1 record against KU in games played in Waco. The Jayhawks’ only win at Baylor Ballpark came in 2006. The Bears were the only Big 12 team to win a series at Hoglund Ballpark last season, taking two of three.
About the Jayhawks
Kansas picked up a pair of non-conference wins during the week to snap a four-game losing streak. KU is 7-1 at home, but just 2-6 in true road games this season – however, the team’s two road wins came at then-No. 1 LSU on March 12 and 14.
KU’s offense is tied for sixth in the Big 12 with a .307 batting average. The Jayhawks are averaging 7.3 runs per game. First baseman Brett Lisher leads the squad with a .393 batting average, while Jimmy Waters has a team-best three homers and 21 RBIs.
On the mound, KU ranks seventh in the Big 12 with a 4.32 ERA and 166 strikeouts in 179 innings. Opposing teams are batting .268 against the Jayhawks’ staff. Senior Cameron Selik leads the team with a 4-1 record and an ERA of 4.02, which is the best among KU’s starters.
Scouting the Bears
Baylor returns to the warmer climate of Waco, Texas after being snowed out of its final two games in Norman, Okla., last weekend. The Bears actually outscored the Sooners, 10-6 in their first Big 12 series, but dropped the only official game, 6-5.
Baylor’s offense ranks fifth in the league with a .323 batting average. The Bears are averaging 7.1 runs per game. Senior infielder Raynor Campbell leads the team with a .403 batting average and 23 RBIs in 18 games. Sophomore Brooks Pinckard leads the team with seven stolen bases and is batting .375 with a .508 on base percentage.
On the mound, BU has a team ERA of 3.68, which ranks sixth in the conference. Junior right-handed pitcher Shawn Tolleson is the team’s Friday night starter, ranking third in the conference with 42 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings. Senior Willie Kempf has a 3-1 record with a 3.48 ERA.
Baylor was picked to finish sixth in the Big 12 Conference in the preseason coaches’ poll after going 30-26 in 2009, and qualifying for the NCAA Tournament.
Last Time Out
Sophomore Zac Elgie went 3-for-3 with a homer, a triple and four RBIs, while junior Tony Thompson collected his first hit of the season – a bases loaded triple – to lead Kansas past Baker University, 16-0 in a game that was shortened to five innings due to rain Wednesday night.
Junior shortstop Brandon Macias played hero late in Tuesday’s win over Creighton. The transfer from South Mountain Community College collected the game-winning hit in the ninth inning, singling with two outs and two men on.
The junior also preserved a tie game in the eighth inning by throwing out a runner at first base on a slow chopper with the bases loaded.
After a slow start, Macias has come on as of late. In his last 10 games, the junior is batting .323 with three doubles and five RBIs. He has also cut down on his strikeouts, fanning just three times in his last 31 at bats, after seven in his first 33 at bats.
Sophomore Zac Elgie also got off to a slow start this season, but found his stroke Wednesday night against Baker University. The second-year first baseman went 3-for-3 with his first triple and first home run of the season.
Elgie finished a double shy of hitting for the cycle on Wednesday – his first three-hit game of the season. His big night raised his batting average by over 50 points, while his slugging percentage jumped from .136 to .298.
Last year, Elgie also got off to a slow start, but hit .329 after April 1, including three doubles and three homers. His surge included a six-RBI game in the NCAA Tournament against Dartmouth.
Kansas junior relief pitcher Brett Bochy recorded another scoreless appearance Tuesday against Creighton, earning his first victory of the season. Bochy has allowed just two runs in nine relief appearances this season, as well as five hits.
Bochy leads the team with three saves this season, and has just one blown save. His 17.1 strikeouts per nine innings leads the team.
Since a rough outing against Baylor on April 5 last season, Bochy has been nearly unhittable. In his last 24 appearances, the junior has a 5-0 record with a 1.43 ERA and 61 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings pitched.
Welcome Back Tony
While it wasn’t the debut he wanted offensively, junior Tony Thompson returned to the lineup against Creighton on Tuesday evening. Thompson – preseason All-American and preseason Big 12 Player of the Year – missed the first 19 games of the season with a hairline fracture in his knee.
Thompson went 0-for-4 against the Bluejays, but collected his first hit of the season on Wednesday against Baker. True to form, Thompson’s first hit drove in three runs – a triple with the bases loaded.
Last season, the junior third baseman won the Triple Crown in the Big 12, leading the league in batting average (.389), home runs (21) and RBIs (82).
All About Quality
Senior righty Brett Bollman held Creighton to three runs on seven hits over six innings on Tuesday to earn his third quality start of the season. As a team, the Jayhawks have 10 quality starts in 21 games this season with their weekend starting pitchers, Bollman, Cameron Selik and T.J. Walz each turning in three of them. Freshman Tanner Poppe also recorded a quality start against Tulane on March 16.
Last season, KU posted 22 quality starts and won 17 of those games (77 percent). This year, the Jayhawks are 7-3 when their starting pitcher allows three runs or less and goes at least six innings.
Around the Horn
– Kansas opens Big 12 play at Baylor this weekend. This marks the fifth time in the Ritch Price era that KU has opened conference play on the road and the second time the Jayhawks have opened at Baylor.
– Last season, KU opened the conference slate with then-No. 1 Texas, sweeping the series with three one-run victories at Hoglund Ballpark.
– Kansas recorded its first walk-off win of the season Tuesday against Creighton as Brandon Macias’ RBI single in the bottom of the ninth broke a 4-4 tie.
– KU took two in a three-game series against then-No. 1 LSU March 12-14, marking the second-straight year the Jayhawks have defeated a top-ranked team. In 2009, KU swept a three-game series from then-No. 1 Texas.
– Jumping out to an early lead has been KU’s M.O. this season. The Jayhawks have outscored their opposition 74-21 in the first three innings of a game this year, including 29-5 in the second inning of games. On March 12 against LSU, KU scored six runs in the second inning en route to an 11-9 victory.
– Sophomore Jason Brunansky scored a career-high four runs against Baker on Wednesday, going 1-for-1 with two walks and a hit by pitch. Brunansky is reaching base at a .512 clip this season after a .386 on-base percentage last year.
– Freshman Alex DeLeon recorded a hit and an RBI in KU’s win over Baker. All three of his hits have come at home this season.
– Freshman Jordan Dreiling collected a pinch hit single against Baker on Wednesday night to drive in a run. The first-year infielder is tied for the team lead with a pair of pinch hits this season.
– Sophomore Zac Elgie hit his first home run of the season Wednesday against Baker. The second-year player started slow this season, but has hit safely in three of his last four starts.
– Center fielder Brian Heere snapped an 11-game hitting streak on Tuesday against Creighton, but has done his best work on the weekends. In KU’s four weekend series, the junior is batting .404 with 11 RBIs.
– Senior first baseman Brett Lisher is among the team leaders in RBIs this season for good reason. The senior is batting .400 (12-for-30) with runners in scoring position.
– Right fielder Casey Lytle has done a great job of setting the table this season. Lytle has reached base 17 of 34 times (.500) when he leads off an inning.
– Junior shortstop Brandon Macias has also been a clutch player this season, including his two-out game-winning hit on Tuesday. The junior is batting .313 (5-for-16) with two outs in an inning.
– Kansas catcher Chris Manship has hit safely in four-straight games this season. The second-year backstop has shown the ability to hit even when behind in the count, collecting nine two-strike hits this year.
– Kansas freshman Jake Marasco returned to the lineup against Saint Louis March 20 and produced a pair of hits, including a pinch hit double in the second game. Marasco has hit safely in all but two games he’s played this year.
– Senior second baseman Robby Price also has gotten back on track lately. The senior collected a triple and a double in the win over Baker on Wednesday to extend his hitting streak to five-straight games. After batting .241 over the team’s first nine games, Price has raised his average by nearly 70 points, going 16-for-41 (.390) since March 9.
– Sophomore catcher James Stanfield scored the go-ahead run twice in Tuesday’s win over Creighton, including the winning run in the ninth. After a rough week on the road, Stanfield returned home and recorded his third two-hit game of the season.
– Junior left fielder Jimmy Waters has shown power, leading the team with three homers, but also patience at the plate. Waters ranks third in the Big 12 with 17 walks and a .506 on-base percentage.
– Senior relief pitcher Travis Blankenship made his 12th appearance of the spring on Tuesday against Creighton, and worked out of a jam. Blankeship ranks fourth in the Big 12 in appearances (12).
– Junior relief pitcher Brett Bochy has allowed just two hits this season with runners on base (2-for-21). He has also averaged 2.9 strikeouts per appearance this season.
– Senior right-handed pitcher Brett Bollman has pitched himself out of trouble successfully this season. Bollman has held opponents to a .286 batting average with men on base this year, and a .258 average with runners in scoring position (8-for-31).
– Redshirt sophomore relief pitcher Jordan Jakubov pitched a scoreless inning of relief Wednesday evening against Baker. After a rough start to the season, Jakubov has recorded back-to-back scoreless appearances.
– Junior relief pitcher Matt Kohorst has been a stopper out of the bullpen, retiring 12 of the 14 men he’s faced this season.
– Junior left-handed pitcher Wally Marciel recorded his sixth scoreless appearance of the season on March 20 against Saint Louis. The junior lefty has allowed just four hits in 18 at bats (.222) with men on base this season.
– Freshman Tanner Poppe recorded his best start of the season on March 16 against Tulane. The first-year righty held the Green Wave to one unearned run on seven hits over six innings. Since a rough outing at Arkansas on March 2, Poppe has allowed just one earned run over his last five appearances, spanning 13 innings.
– Senior Cameron Selik suffered his first defeat on March 20 against Saint Louis. Selik had won his first four starts of the season, becoming the first pitcher to do this since Pete Smart earned wins in his first six starts in 2001.
– Freshman Thomas Taylor earned his second victory of the year, allowing no runs and no hits over three innings against Baker Wednesday.
– Junior T.J. Walz suffered his first loss since opening day on March 20 against Saint Louis, allowing a season-high eight runs over 6 1/3 innings. Walz has lost back-to-back starts just once in his career.
Kansas returns home after the weekend at Baylor to play five-straight games in the comforts of Hoglund Ballpark, beginning with a 3 p.m. contest against Arkansas-Little Rock on Tuesday, March 30.