Jayhawks, Tigers Renew Rivalry This Weekend

March 29, 2007


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The Kansas baseball team will compete against Border Showdown rival Missouri in a three-game series beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m. in Columbia. Saturday’s game will begin at 2 p.m., while first pitch Sunday is set for 1 p.m. This will be the first meeting between the teams since KU advanced to the 2006 Big 12 Championship game with a 4-3 triumph over the Tigers in the semifinals.<?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

Scouting the Tigers

Missouri enters the weekend series with Kansas as the 25th-ranked team in the latest Collegiate Baseball News poll. The Tigers had won 14 straight before dropping the final game of the series at Nebraska last Sunday. MU is 10-0 at home this season.

Junior outfielder Evan Fray is the team’s leading hitter with a .337 batting average and four triples. Sophomore Ryan Lollis has a team-high 31 RBIs, while senior John McKee is tops with three home runs.

On the mound, sophomore Aaron Crow is the Tigers No. 1 starter with a 4-0 record, a 2.15 ERA and 37 strikeouts in 46 innings. Sophomore lefty Brant Combs has made 14 appearances out of the bullpen and has a 1-1 record with a 2.77 ERA.

Head coach Tim Jamieson is in his 13th season at MU with a 419-297-2 (.585) record. Jamieson’s team returns 10 letterwinners, including six position starters from last year’s squad which finished 35-28 and seventh in the Big 12.

Missouri holds the edge in the all-time series, 192-120, which dates back to May 26, 1894. KU won that first meeting, 17-4, and took three of four contests with the Tigers during the 2006 season.

Last Time Out

Missouri State scored three runs in the fifth inning to down the University of Kansas, 7-2 in a midweek game Tuesday in Springfield. Senior Kyle Murphy led the Jayhawk attack, collecting a pair of hits, including a solo home run in the third inning.

Get Your Radio On

The Jayhawks’ series at Missouri will be broadcast on KLWN (1320-AM) in Lawrence as well as on kuathletics.com.

KLWN will broadcast the remaining conference games this season as well as a handful of midweek contests. Veteran play-by-play man Tom Hedrick will call the action this weekend from Columbia.

Border Showdown Update

Throughout the 2006-07 athletic season, the University of Kansas and the University of Missouri are again participating in the Border Showdown presented by Midwest Ford Dealers. Each year, the Jayhawks and Tigers compete in a points-based contest that encompasses 14 sports from each school.

KU currently leads this season’s competition 12.5-11.5 having taken 8.5 of a possible 11.5 points during the winter sports seasons. The Jayhawks also won last year’s competition 23-17, which included three baseball victories.

Mighty Murphy

Senior Kyle Murphy hit his third homer of the season in Tuesday’s game with Missouri State.

Prior to this season, Murphy was known more for his defense, but is now second on the team with a .311 batting average and has 10 multi-hit games. He is also tied for third on the team with three homers.


Sophomore lefty Andy Marks struck out 10 Oklahoma State hitters Sunday, becoming the first Jayhawk to strike out 10-plus hitters in a conference game since Mike Zagurski fanned 12 against Missouri on May 14, 2005.

Marks leads the team and is second in the Big 12 with 50 strikeouts this season, including 18 in his two starts in conference play. The 6-foot junior is on pace to become just the fifth Jayhawk pitcher to record 100 K’s in a season and the first since Zagurski tallied 112 in 2005.

Saving the Day

Sophomore closer Paul Smyth earned a multiple-inning decision for the second time in a week by pitching three innings for a save Saturday against Oklahoma State.

On March 17, Smyth pitched 4.1 innings at Texas A&M to earn his first victory of the season in exta frames. Against OSU, the 5-foot-10 righty allowed two men to reach base in the seventh, but retired the final eight hitters he faced for his fifth save of the season.

Smyth leads the team with 16 appearances and has an 0.76 ERA in 23.2 innings of work.

Pulling Rank

During the month of March, the University of Kansas has played one of the most grueling schedules in all of college baseball. The Jayhawks have seen nationally ranked opponents nearly every time on the field.

Since March 9, the Jayhawks have played 10 games against nationally ranked teams, including six against teams in the top ten at the time of the games, Arkansas (#10) and Texas A&M (#8).

The road doesn’t get any easier as this weekend’s opponent, Missouri, moved into the Top 25 after taking two of three from previously ranked Nebraska. KU’s next home series is against No. 7 Texas, April 4-6.

Closing In

With his win over Oklahoma State Saturday, head coach Ritch Price moved to within six victories of third place in all-time wins at the University of Kansas. Price is chasing former KU coach Bobby Randall, who had 166 career victories with the Jayhawks from 1996 to 2002. Floyd Temple holds the program record with 438 wins.

Around the Horn

– Friday’s game at Missouri is the first of four scheduled meetings between the Border Showdown rivals this season. The teams will play a non-conference game at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium on April 25.

– Sophomore Buck Afenir has started four consecutive games behind the plate and is batting .263 with runners in scoring position.

– Sophomore Preston Land broke out of a prolonged slump with an RBI single in Saturday’s 6-3 triumph. Land went 2-for-5 against Oklahoma State and drove in a run.

– Junior Ryne Price is hitting .361 in home games, compared to .260 on the road.

– Junior Erik Morrison moved into a tie for ninth-place in career home runs at KU with a solo shot in Sunday’s loss to Oklahoma State. Morrison has 22 career round-trippers and is chasing Travis Metcalf’s record of 29 career homers at KU.

– Freshman Robby Price belted his first home run of the season, a three-run shot to right field in Friday’s loss to Oklahoma State.

– Junior John Allman collected his first outfield assist of the season by helping cut down a runner at second base last Sunday against Oklahoma State.

– Senior Kyle Murphy matched his previous season’s total of nine extra base hits with a solo homer in Tuesday’s loss at Missouri State. Murphy has five doubles, a triple and three homers this season.

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

– Junior lefty Zach Ashwood earned his first victory since March 4, pitching six innings against Oklahoma State Saturday. Ashwood scattered seven hits and allowed just one earned run in the win.

– Senior Ryotaro Hayakawa and freshman Wally Marciel each pitched a scoreless inning of relief in Sunday’s loss to Oklahoma State. Hayakawa had eight strikeouts in his two appearances last week.

– Sophomore Andy Marks leads the Big 12 with 11.74 K/9 IP ratio. He is second in the league with 50 strikeouts in 38.1 innings this season.

– Head coach Ritch Price and junior John Allman will be featured on MetroSport’s KU baseball segment during its spring sports show. Air times are not yet available.

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, 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 next half-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.

Kansas 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

After facing one rival over the weekend, the Jayhawks will take on another in a non-conference contest next Tuesday in Manhattan, Kan. KU will face K-State at 7 p.m., in a game that will not count towards the Big 12 standings.