Kansas Baseball Returns Home to Face Texas Tech This Weekend
March 29, 2012
LEADING OFF: Kansas returns to the friendly confines of Hoglund Ballpark this weekend for its first Big 12 series in Lawrence, Kan. The Jayhawks will take on Texas Tech in a three-game series beginning Friday at 6 p.m., continue Saturday at 2 p.m., and conclude at 1 p.m. Sunday.
ON THE AIR: There are several ways to follow the Jayhawks this weekend. Fans can watch live video or listen to audio of all three games in their entirety on AT&T Jayhawk All-Access at kuathletics.com. All three games will also be carried on Lawrence radio station KLWN (1320 AM). Friday’s coverage on KLWN will be joined in progress, while coverage of Saturday’s game will be pre-empted at 5 p.m. Fans can also follow along on GameTracker at kuathletics.com.
SERIES HISTORY: Kansas and Texas Tech will meet for the 48th time on Friday night and the 45th time as Big 12 Conference members. The Red Raiders lead the all-time series 31-16, including 12-9 in games played in Lawrence. TTU swept Kansas in Lubbock last season and has won seven of the last nine meetings between the teams.
ABOUT KANSAS: The Jayhawks are looking to snap a four-game losing streak Friday against Texas Tech. KU’s four-straight losses have all come on the road against ranked teams. The Jayhawks will be playing just their fourth home game of the season in the series opener against the Red Raiders. So far, KU is 2-1 at home with wins over non-conference foes North Dakota and Southern Utah.
KU’s offense is averaging 4.6 runs per game and batting .264, which ranks eighth in the Big 12. Redshirt junior 1B Jake Marasco leads the team’s regular starters with a .316 batting average and has reached base at a .418 clip. On the mound, KU has posted a 4.48 team ERA and held opponents to a .273 batting average. Freshman Robert Kahana has been stellar out of the Jayhawk bullpen, posting a 2.22 ERA in 11 appearances with 20 strikeouts in 28 1/3 innings.
SCOUTING THE RED RAIDERS: Texas Tech enters the weekend series at 15-11 overall and 1-5 in Big 12 play. Like the Jayhawks, TTU was swept in its first conference series of the season at Baylor, before taking one of three from Oklahoma last weekend. The Red Raiders are 1-5 on the road this year.
Texas Tech’s offense averages 6.7 runs per game and is batting .311 as a team, which ranks second in the Big 12, behind only Texas A&M (.315). Junior 2B Jamodrick McGruder leads the team with a .375 batting average with 31 runs scored, a .553 on-base percentage and a conference-best 18 stolen bases on the year. Junior OF Barrett Barnes has hit six of the team’s nine homers and is batting .356 with 27 RBIs and a .667 slugging percentage.
The Red Raiders’ pitching staff has posted a team ERA of 3.37 and held opponents to a .243 batting average. Redshirt sophomore RHP Duke von Schamann is the staff ace with a 3-3 record and a 2.08 ERA in six starts. von Schamann has walked just seven and struck out 29 in 43 1/3 innings. Sophomore Trey Masek has made a team-high 10 relief appearances this season and is one of three TTU pitchers with a save. Masek sports a 3.22 ERA and a 1-3 record.
Head coach Dan Spencer is in his fourth season at Texas Tech and has an overall record of 101-97 in his career. Spencer took over the Tech program in 2009 after helping Oregon State to back-to-back College World Series titles in 2006 and 2007 as the pitching coach.
LAST TIME OUT: For the second-straight game, KU rallied from an early five-run deficit, only to lose on a walk-off base hit. Missouri State senior Kevin Medrano’s bases loaded single in the ninth inning broke a tie and gave the Bears a 9-8 victory over Kansas Tuesday night at Hammons Field.
K-A-H-A-N-A SPELLS RELIEF: Freshman RHP Robert Kahana has been a welcome addition to the Kansas bullpen. The first-year righty has allowed just three earned runs in nine appearances out of the bullpen this season, which spans 20 innings (1.35 ERA). Kahana has made back-to-back scoreless relief appearances in KU’s last two games, pitching out of a bases loaded jam at Baylor on March 25 and tossing 4 1/3 scoreless innings at Missouri State Tuesday night.
Kahana ranks ninth in the Big 12 with a 2.22 overall ERA and is the only freshman that ranks in the top 15 in the league in earned run average and batting average against (.214).
MARASCO MARCHES ON: Redshirt junior 1B Jake Marasco continued his hot hitting in the month of March, going 5-for-10 in the Baylor series, including a 4-for-4 effort in the March 23 game. The four-hit afternoon for Marasco marked the second of the junior’s career.
Marasco has been a lion in March throughout his career, batting .364 (60-for-165) with 14 doubles, a homer and a .469 slugging percentage. This year has been no different as Marasco leads the team with a .373 average (22-for-59) with three doubles, nine runs scored and four RBIs this month.
COMEBACK KIDS: The Jayhawks have shown a never-say-die attitude this season, rallying from multi-run deficits six times in their first 24 games. KU trailed by five runs at Baylor on March 25, but rallied for four in the fifth inning and tied the score on a solo homer by Alex DeLeon. On Tuesday night, the Jayhawks fell behind Missouri State, 8-3, after two innings, but scored four times in the fourth and tied the game in the fifth on Ka’iana Eldredge’s RBI single.
KU’s ability to erase multi-run deficits is in stark contrast to last season when the team rallied to tie games just five times when they trailed by two runs or more.
THOU SHALL NOT STEAL: Base runners’ worst nightmare this season has been senior C James Stanfield. Heading into the seventh week of the season, Stanfield has thrown out 47.4 percent of all would-be base stealers (9-for-19), which leads the Big 12 among catchers that have started at least 12 games. Stanfield’s defensive skills have been on display recently as he has thrown out base runners in six of the last 10 stolen base attempts against him. Below is a look at the Big 12’s caught stealing percentages among its starting catchers:
Big 12 Caught Stealing Percentage
1. James Stanfield, Kansas……. .474 (9-for-19)
2. Troy Stein, Texas A&M………… .357 (5-for-14)
3. Bo Altobelli, Texas Tech……….. .353 (6-for-17)
4. Josh Ludy, Baylor………………. .333 (5-for-15)
5. Jacob Felts, Texas .321 (9-for-28)
– Kansas hosts its first Big 12 series of the season when Texas Tech comes to town this weekend. The Jayhawks are 30-23-1 against conference foes at Hoglund Ballpark since 2008.
– Kansas has committed just 20 errors in 24 games played. The Jayhawks’ .978 fielding percentage is tied for 17th nationally.
– Kansas has done a great job of starting innings. KU has had the leadoff man reach base in 38.5 percent (82-for-217) of its offensive innings in 2012.
– The Jayhawks have out-hit 12 of their 24 opponents this season. KU has a 9-3 record when it collects more base hits than its opponent.
– The Jayhawks’ 11-10 victory on March 21 over Southern Utah marked KU’s first walk-off win since April 2, 2011 when a bases-loaded walk in the 10th inning gave KU a 4-3 win over then-No. 19 Baylor.
– Kansas has hit 12 home runs this season, which is fifth-most in the Big 12. Of the Jayhawks’ 12 home runs, eight have been hit by freshmen.
– KU’s outfielders have recorded nine assists this season after collecting just 13 all of last season. Freshman Connor McKay and sophomore Tucker Tharp are tied for the team lead with three each, while senior Jason Brunansky, freshman Dakota Smith and freshman Michael Suiter have also thrown a baserunner out from the outfield.
– The Jayhawks have scored 25 of their 111 runs this season in the first inning, or 22.5 percent.
– KU collected 19 hits in the 11-inning win over Southern Utah, which represented the most by the team since recording 20 hits at Oklahoma State on April 30, 2010.
– Kansas skipper Ritch Price coached his 1,000th game at the Division I level on March 6 against North Dakota. Price has a .520 winning percentage (526 wins, three ties) in 17-plus seasons at Cal Poly and Kansas.
– KU scored a season-high 10 runs in the first inning of a game against Mississippi Valley State on Feb. 26. It was the most runs scored in a single frame by a Jayhawk team since an 11-run inning against Tabor in 2007.
– Senior C James Stanfield collected his fourth hit against left-handed pitching in the sixth inning of the March 25 loss at Baylor. Stanfield is 4-for-10 against southpaws this season after going 5-for-22 (.227) against lefties in 2011.
– Junior C Alex DeLeon hit his first home run of the season in Sunday’s loss at Baylor. DeLeon has eight career home runs, with six of them coming at Hoglund Ballpark.
– Redshirt-junior 1B Jake Marasco collected his team-leading seventh infield base hit in Tuesday’s loss at Missouri State.
– Sophomore 2B Ka’iana Eldredge has enjoyed hitting at Hoglund Ballpark this year, going 7-for-13 (.538) in KU’s three home games.
– Junior SS Kevin Kuntz has a team-best eight-game hitting streak going and has reached base in 22 of KU’s 24 games this season.
– After a slow start, junior IF Jordan Dreiling has started to turn things around. Dreiling snapped out of a 1-for-17 slump with two hits against Stony Brook on March 9 and is 7-for-17 with three multi-hit games in his last four starts.
– Senior IF Chris Manship has become a complete hitter this season. In previous years, Manship was very pull-happy, but six of his 17 base hits have been to the opposite field, while five more have been to center field.
– Senior 3B Zac Elgie is tied for the team lead with four bunt base hits this season.
– Freshman OF Connor McKay recorded his team-leading fifth multi-RBI game Tuesday at Missouri State and is second on the team with 14 RBIs this season.
– Freshman OF Michael Suiter has done a tremendous job setting the table. Suiter has led off an inning 15 times this season and has reached base in nine of those opportunities (.600).
– Sophomore OF Tucker Tharp is also heating up, going 6-for-19 with three walks and a hit by pitch in his last five starts. Tharp collected two hits against Notre Dame on March 16 to snap a 1-for-18 slump.
– Freshman LHP Wes Benjamin has pitched well everywhere but in Texas. In his three starts in the Lone Star State this year, Benjamin’s ERA is 9.39, allowing 16 runs in 15 1/3 innings. In his three starts in other states, Benjamin has an 0.81 ERA with two runs allowed in 22 1/3 innings.
– Senior RHP Jordan Jakubov has been great at cleaning up other pitchers’ innings. The senior has allowed just two of his nine inherited base runners to score this season (22.2 percent).
– Freshman RHP Robert Kahana has pitched much better with men on base recently. Over his last three outings, Kahana has allowed just three hits in 17 at bats with base runners (.176).
– Freshman RHP Drew Morovick has done a great job against leadoff men this season. In the 20 innings Morovick has started, just two men have reached base to open the inning (.100).
– Junior RHP Thomas Taylor has induced a team-high six double plays, including another one against Baylor on March 25.
– Kansas has one native Texan – Taylor Hart – on its roster. Texas Tech does not have any players from the state of Kansas.
– Kansas head coach Ritch Price (Sweet Home, Ore.) and Texas Tech head coach Dan Spencer (Vancouver, Wash.) are both natives of the northwest.
– Price’s Jayhawks faced Spencer at Oregon State in the 2006 NCAA Tournament.
– Kansas junior LHP Jordan Luvisi and freshmen 3B Joey Luvisi and OF Brian Poupore as well as Texas Tech junior LHP Daniel Coulombe are all from Scottsdale, Ariz. The three Jayhawks all attended Notre Dame Prep, while Coulombe graduated from Chaparral High School.
UP NEXT: Kansas hits the road for four games next week, beginning with a Tuesday night contest at T.D. Ameritrade Stadium in Omaha, Neb. against Creighton. The Jayhawks and Bluejays will face off at 6 p.m. in their only scheduled meeting of the 2012 season.