Jayhawks Face Missouri State Wednesday in Springfield

March 29, 2011

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Game 24

Kansas at Missouri State

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Hammons Field (8,000) – Springfield, Mo.


Kansas baseball will travel to Missouri State for a non-conference game Wednesday night in Springfield, Mo. The Jayhawks and Bears will meet for the first time this season at 6:30 p.m. at Hammons Field.

The Kansas-Missouri State game will be carried live on KLWN (1320 AM) with Tom Hedrick calling the action. Fans outside of the Lawrence area can tune in online at www.klwn.com.

Series History

Kansas and Missouri State will be meeting for the 44th time on the baseball diamond in a series that dates back to 1988.

The Jayhawks lead the series, 23-20, but have won just nine of 21 games played in Springfield. KU has won five straight in the series and is 9-3 against the Bears under head coach Ritch Price.

About the Jayhawks

Kansas was swept in a three-game series for the first time this season, dropping all three games at No. 6 Texas A&M over the weekend. The Jayhawks are 1-6 in true road games this season, with the only win coming at then-No. 1 TCU.

KU is batting .232 as a team and averaging 3.1 runs per game. Sophomore Jake Marasco leads the team with a .337 batting average with five doubles and eight RBIs this season. The Jayhawks’ pitching staff has posted a 3.55 team ERA, which ranks fifth in the Big 12 and is holding opponents to a .259 batting average. Junior closer Colton Murray leads the staff, going 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA in eight appearances.

Scouting the Bears

Missouri State enters the midweek contest at 13-9 overall after taking two from Oral Roberts over the weekend in a series that was shortened due to weather. The Bears have been dominant at home, going 7-2 at Hammons Field this season.

As a team, the Bears are batting .311 with 12 homers and a .402 on-base percentage. MSU is averaging 6.4 runs per game. Senior outfielder Aaron Conway leads the team with a .384 batting average and is tied for the team lead with eight doubles this season. Junior first baseman Brent Seifert leads the team with four homers and is tied for the team lead with 19 RBIs in 22 games.

Missouri State’s pitching staff sports a 4.80 team ERA, while holding opponents to a .279 batting average. Missouri State has not announced a starting pitcher for Wednesday’s game, but it will likely be either senior right-handed pitcher Blake Barber or sophomore righty Pierce Johnson. Barber is 2-2 with a 2.87 ERA and has just four walks and 22 strikeouts in 31 1/3 innings, while Johnson has a 10.48 ERA in five starts.

Missouri State head coach Steve Guttin is in his 29th year with the Bears and owns an overall record of 959-607 at the school.

Last Time Out

Freshman Alex Cox pitched 6 2/3 innings and both Casey Lytle and James Stanfield had two hits, but it was not enough. Texas A&M center fielder Krey Bratsen went 2-for-3 with two RBIs, as the No. 6 Aggies swept the three-game series with a 3-1 triumph at Olsen Field Sunday.

Kansas-MSU Connections

– Kansas has just one player from the state of Missouri on its roster, freshman Jordan Brown, who is from Blue Springs.

– Kansas head coach Ritch Price and Missouri State head coach Keith Guttin have met 13 times in their careers with Price winning nine of those meetings.

Casey at the Bat

Senior Casey Lytle has worked himself out of an early season slump and has been KU’s hottest hitter as of late. Lytle enters Wednesday’s game with a 12-game hitting streak, which included a 5-for-12 weekend at Texas A&M.

Lytle is batting .356 during his hitting streak, including four multi-hit games. The senior right fielder is also batting a team-best .348 in Big 12 contests.

All Good Things Must End

Kansas freshman pitcher Frank Duncan’s scorless innings streak ended on Friday, allowing a run in the bottom of the 10th inning at Texas A&M. However, Duncan has still been one of the top middle relievers in the Big 12 Conference.

The 6-foot-4 righty from San Francisco, Calif., has made nine appearances and pitched 12 1/3 innings out of the bullpen this season. He has allowed a single run on eight hits, including just one for extra bases. Duncan has also held opposing right-handed hitters to a .192 batting average (5-for-26).

Zac Attack

Kansas first baseman Zac Elgie has raised his batting average nearly 50 points over the last few weeks, picking things up in Big 12 play. Elgie is batting .333 in conference games this year and reaching base at a .391 clip.

Elgie has become a much tougher hitter with two strikes this season, going 8-for-16 (.500) when he’s behind in the count. The senior first baseman is also batting .379 (11-for-29) with two outs in an inning.

Diamond Notes

– Kansas travels to Missouri State Wednesday for its first of two meetings with the Bears. KU is 73-80 all-time against current members of the Missouri Valley Conference, including 0-1 this season.

– The Jayhawks have played one of the most difficult schedules over the early part of the season. KU has played eight of its first 23 games against teams ranked in the top 10 at the time of the game, with all eight of them away from Hoglund Ballpark.

– The grueling schedule has helped KU maintain a good RPI, despite a 10-13 record. Following action this weekend, the Jayhawks are ranked 57th in psuedo RPI according to BoydsWorld.com. Other Big 12 RPI rankings include Texas A&M (15th), Baylor (18th), Texas Tech (33rd), Oklahoma (45th), Texas (46th), Oklahoma State (49th), Nebraska (97th), Kansas State (103rd) and Missouri (142nd).

– The NCAA released its second stats report of the season on Tuesday. The Jayhawks rank 64th in the country in times hit by pitch (29), 63rd in ERA (3.55), 69th in walks/9 IP (3.21) and 67th in fielding percentage (.970). Several KU players rank in the top 100 individually.

– Seniors Brandon Macias and Jimmy Waters rank in the top 100 in times hit by pitch. Macias is 27th in the country, having collected eight HBPs, while Waters is 97th with six.

– Junior closer Colton Murray ranks 51st in the country with four saves and is tied for third in the Big 12 in the same category.

– Senior right-handed pitcher T.J. Walz ranks 62nd in the country with 41 strikeouts and is tied for sixth in the Big 12 in the same category.

– Walz is also eighth in the conference in innings pitched (39.0).

– Kansas also ranks in the top half of the Big 12 in several categories. The Jayhawks are fifth in the conference in ERA (3.55), fourth in saves (six) and fourth in walks allowed (74).

– In recent games, KU has been stellar with two outs. Since the start of the Oklahoma State series, the Jayhawks have collected 13 two-out RBIs and are batting .296 (23-for-79) with two outs in an inning.

– Four runs scored has been the magic number for the Jayhawk offense this season. KU is 1-12 when scoring three runs or less and 9-1 when the team scores four runs or more.

Texas A&M Series Leftovers

– Kansas was swept in a three-game series for the first time in 2011. The team dropped to 1-6 in true road games.

– The Jayhawks scored just three unearned runs in the three-game series at No. 6 Texas A&M.

– Kansas starting pitcher T.J. Walz matched a season-high with 10 strikeouts in a no-decision Friday at Texas A&M. Walz has tallied 26 K’s in his last three games, which spans 21 1/3 innings.

– Sophomore Alex DeLeon tied Friday’s game in the ninth inning with a pinch-hit, two-out, RBI double. He also walked in Sunday’s game to stay perfect at 2-for-2 in his career as a pinch hitter.

– Junior catcher James Stanfield recorded a pair of two-hit games in the series, giving him four multi-hit contests this season and 16 in his career.

– Senior outfielder Casey Lytle hit safely in all three games of the series, extending his hitting streak to 12-straight contests. Lytle’s hitting streak is the longest by a Jayhawk since Robby Price hit safely in 22-straight games last year.

– Freshman starting pitcher Alex Cox recorded his longest career outing in the finale, going 6 2/3 innings. Cox collected his first quality start, allowing just three runs on nine hits.

Up Next
Kansas returns to the friendly confines of Hoglund Ballpark this weekend to face No. 19 Baylor in a three-game series beginning Friday at 6 p.m. The Jayhawks and Bears will also meet at 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.