Jayhawk Baseball Hosts Northern Colorado This Week

March 30, 2009

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Kansas vs. Northern Colorado

Kansas baseball returns to the friendly confines of Hoglund Ballpark to open a five-game homestand this week, beginning with a two-game set against Northern Colorado. The Jayhawks and Bears will meet at 3 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Gametracker will be available for both contests at kuathletics.com.

Series History

Northern Colorado leads the all-time series with Kansas, 4-3. All seven meetings have taken place in Lawrence. The teams split a doubleheader on March 21, 2007, the most recent meeting, with KU taking the first game 5-4, before bowing 4-2 in the nightcap.

About the Jayhawks

Kansas suffered a series sweep at the hands of Texas A&M last weekend in College Station, Texas. The Jayhawks have played in 11 one-run games this season and are 4-7 in those games. KU has won 12 straight home games to open the season. The streak is the longest of its kind since 2002, and is tied for the fifth-longest in team history.

Senior catcher Buck Afenir leads the team with a .368 batting average, while third baseman Tony Thompson has nine doubles, six homers and 25 RBIs. Junior Shaeffer Hall has a 2-2 record with a 2.27 ERA to lead the starting pitchers.

As a team, KU is batting .281, while the pitching staff has a 3.38 ERA.

Scouting the Bears

Northern Colorado had its four-game series with Houston Baptist cancelled due to inclement weather over the weekend, meaning the Bears are scheduled to play a program-record 26-straight away contests. NC opened the year at home against Montana State-Billings, and have played just one game – March 11 vs. Air Force – in Greeley, Colo. since. NC has wins over Southern Mississippi and Nebraska over the last two weeks.

Senior Andy Mees leads the Northern Colorado offense with a .383 batting average with six homers and 26 RBIs. Mees is reaching base at a .473 clip and has a .681 slugging percentage. Senior infielder Kevin Sandberg has provided the power for NC, with a team-best 10 homers and 29 RBIs. Sandberg is also batting .330.

Kansas will face junior lefty James Quisenberry in Tuesday’s game. Quisenberry is 2-1 on the season with a 9.13 ERA and has 17 strikeouts and 13 walks in 22 2/3 innings. Freshman Joe Willman has been the Bears’ top relief pitcher, posting three saves and 18 strikeouts in 23 2/3 innings.

Northern Colorado returns seven letterwinners and three position starters from last year’s team which finished 20-33 overall.

Last Time Out

Junior David Narodowski and senior Buck Afenir each had two hits, but it was not enough, as Texas A&M built an early six-run advantage and held on for a 6-5 triumph over Kansas in a Big 12 baseball game Sunday at Olsen Field.

Start Me Up

Junior shortstop David Narodowski has hit safely in nine straight games and is third on the team with a .333 batting average. Narodowski’s rise in production seems to have coincided with his accention in the batting order.

Narodowski opened the season hitting in the middle of the lineup, but struggled early. During the month of March, the junior shortstop is batting .370 with four stolen bases and 18 runs scored. Narodowski also leads the team with a .400 batting average in conference games, and is hitting .476 at home.

Bo Knows Strikeouts

On Sunday, sophomore relief pitcher Brett Bochy made quick work of the Texas A&M offense. In three innings of relief, Bochy retired all nine men he faced and struck out a career high seven Aggies in KU’s 6-5 loss.

Bochy’s seven strikeouts are the most by a Kansas relief pitcher since 2005, when Andrew Rebar fanned seven against Baker on March 16.

Other than a rough outing against Arizona State, Bochy has been very reliable out of the bullpen, allowing just four runs in his other 12 appearances with five walks and 18 strikeouts.

Home, Sweet Home

Kansas has won all 12 of its home games this season, and has put up some amazing numbers in the process.

In KU’s 12 home wins, the Jayhawks are batting .304 with 24 doubles, four triples and 11 home runs. In the team’s away games, the Jayhawks batting average drops to .264 with just three homers. The Jayhawk pitching staff allows two earned runs fewer per game (2.25/4.47), and a batting average of 60 points less (.204/.264) during home games.

KU’s best hitter at Hoglund Ballpark is David Narodowski, who has hit .476, while Lee Ridenhour is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA and 16 strikeouts in KU’s home games.

The Jayhawks’ 12 straight-home wins is the longest winning streak at Hoglund Ballpark since 2002.

Around the Horn

– The Jayhawks host Northern Colorado in a non-conference midweek series Tuesday and Wednesday. It will mark KU’s second midweek series with a Division I Independent this season. The Jayhawks swept North Dakota the first week of March.

– This will mark the fifth-straight season that KU has been scheduled to play the Bears, however last year’s games were cancelled due to unplayable field conditions.

– KU has been impressive at home in Ritch Price’s tenure. Since the beginning of the 2008 season, the Jayhawks are 30-7 at Hoglund Ballpark, including 12-0 this season.

– Kansas swept then-No. 1 Texas March 20-22, which was the Jayhawks’ first ever sweep of the Longhorns and first sweep of a No. 1 ranked team. The win over UT on March 20 was KU’s first over a top-ranked team since 1993.

– With the win March 3 against UND, Kansas extended its winning streak in home openers to 10 straight years, including all seven under head coach Ritch Price.

Senior catcher Buck Afenir got back on track with a two-hit game Sunday at Texas A&M. Afenir had been mired in a 3-for-18 slump prior to the day.

– Sophomore transfer Joe Lincoln had a couple of hits in the mid-week series with Western Illinois March 24-25. Lincoln had been sidelined with an injury since the March 10 game against Missouri Valley.

– Catcher Chris Manship made a pinch hitting appearance in his home state of Arizona in KU’s 9-4 loss to Arizona State on March 13.

– Senior first baseman Preston Land is KU’s second-best hitter in Big 12 games this season. Land is batting .381 (8-for-21) against the conference this season with a pair of doubles and a .458 on base percentage.

– Freshman Zac Elgie collected his second multi-hit game of the season on March 24 against Western Illinois. The first-year Jayhawk is batting .263 in home games this season.

– Junior second baseman Robby Price has hit safely in six of his last seven games. Price hit in the No. 2 spot in the order this weekend, and is hitting .350 (7-for-20) from that spot.

– Freshman infielder James Stanfield made his first start in a Kansas uniform on March 7 against Northwestern, going 1-for-3 with a double and a run scored.

– Junior shortstop David Narodowski has done a tremendous job when leading off this year. Narodowski has reached base at a .366 clip (15-for-41) when he is the first to hit in an inning.

– Sophomore Tony Thompson hit a pair of home runs in the game March 25 against Western Illinois. It was the first multi-homer game by a Jayhawk since Erik Morrison hit two round-trippers against Baylor on April 6, 2008, and the fifth multi-homer game by a Jayhawk since the beginning of last year.

– Freshman left fielder Jake Marasco went 2-for-6 in the Northwestern series, which included his first career triple in the first game on March 6.

– Senior Nick Faunce collected a pair of hits March 25 against Western Illinois lefty Austin Brough. The senior has been outstanding this season against left-handed pitching, batting at a .320 clip.

– Freshman Jason Brunansky made an amazing catch in center field Friday at Texas A&M. Brunansky has made a pair of highlight-reel catches, crashing into a fence against Arizona State and robbing Texas A&M’s Luke Anders of an extra base hit with a diving catch in the gap.

– Sophomore Brian Heere has been on a terror over his last 10 games. Since the beginning of the San Diego State series, Heere is batting .387 with three doubles, six runs scored and a .486 on-base percentage.

– Sophomore Casey Lytle has been outstanding against left-handed pitching the season. The second-year outfielder is batting .440 (11-for-25) against southpaws.

– Sophomore Jimmy Waters had a two-hit game against Western Illinois on March 25. Waters is batting .308 against non-conference opponents this year.

– Junior transfer Brett Lisher made his first start in two weeks on March 24 and went 2-for-3 with a double and an RBI. Lisher had been nursing an injury for the past two weeks.

– Junior transfer Travis Blankenship snapped a string of nine straight relief appearances without allowing a run in Saturday’s loss to Texas A&M. The left-handed reliever did bounce back to retire the side in order in the eighth inning Sunday.

– Sophomore Brett Bochy has now tallied at least one strikeout in 21 of his 26 career relief appearances.

– Junior Brett Bollman’s second career start went even better than his first. The junior, who will likely fill the role of midweek starter, allowed just one earned run over five innings March 25 to earn his second victory of the season.

– Freshman Kelson Boyer pitched a perfect inning of relief March 24 against Western Illinois, recording a pair of strikeouts. Boyer has allowed just one run and has not walked anybody in 7 1/3 innings this season.

– Freshman Kevin Burk earned his first collegiate victory March 24 against Western Illinois, pitching three scoreless innings of relief. Other than a hiccup against Arizona State, Burk has been solid.

– Junior Shaeffer Hall earned his second victory of the season March 20 against Texas, and first since his no-hitter on opening day. Hall has done an excellent job this season of finishing innings. Teams are batting .095 (4-for-42) against the lefty with two outs.

– Junior Thomas Marcin made a scoreless relief appearance March 24 against Western Illinois, recording a season-high two strikeouts.

– Freshman Colton Murray has been solid out of the Kansas bullpen this season. Following a rough trip through Arizona State and San Diego State, Murray has not allowed a run in his last five outings.

– Freshman Lee Ridenhour allowed just four hits in his loss to Texas A&M on Sunday. The first-year righty has allowed five hits or less in five of his seven starts.

– Senior Paul Smyth converted three save opportunites in the weekend series against Texas March 20-22, and was named to the College Baseball Foundation’s National All-Star Lineup for the second time in his career.

– Sophomore T.J. Walz matched a career high with seven strikeouts Saturday against Texas A&M, but did not factor in the decision. Walz leads the team with 31 K’s in 30 innings pitched this year.

Up Next

Following the midweek tangle with Northern Colorado, KU will host No. 7 Baylor in a three-game Big 12 series Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday’s game is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start, while Saturday’s game will begin at 2 p.m. Sunday’s first pitch is slated for 1 p.m.

All three games will be carried on KLWN (1320-AM) with Brian Hanni and Tom Hedrick calling the action.