Jayhawks Face In-State Rival Wichita State Tuesday

March 31, 2008

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The Kansas baseball team plays host to a pair of in-state rivals this week as No. 8 Wichita State and the University of St. Mary visit Hoglund Ballpark. The Jayhawks will renew their series with the Shockers at 7 p.m., Tuesday, before taking on St. Mary Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Tuesday’s game will be broadcast on KLWN (1320-AM) as well as on kuathletics.com. Veteran play-by-play man Tom Hedrick will call the action, while former Jayhawk Lee Ice serves as the color commentator. Gametracker will also be available for both contests.

The Series vs. Wichita State

The Shockers lead the all-time series with Kansas, 39-22, which dates back to 1952. Wichita State has won three straight in the series, sweeping the two games last season. KU’s last win in the series came on March 29, 2006 at Hoglund Ballpark. WSU holds a 20-12 edge in games played in Lawrence.

The Series vs. St. Mary

Kansas leads the all-time series with St. Mary, 13-12, which dates back to 1899. The teams met 23 times between 1899-1930 and have met twice since 2005. KU has won both of the recent meetings, 8-3 in 2005 and 6-0 in 2006. The Spires’ last win in the series came in 1930.

Scouting the Shockers

Wichita State (20-3), ranked eighth in the latest NCBWA poll, swept a four-game series from North Dakota State over the weekend, including a 9-5 triumph Sunday at Eck Stadium. The Shockers have won 17-straight since being swept in a three-game series at Long Beach State.

Junior third baseman Connor Gillaspie is the team’s leading hitter with a .435 batting average, 40 hits and a .485 on-base percentage, while infielder Dusty Coleman is the team’s top power threat with five homers and 32 RBIs.

The Shockers will send freshman right-hander Tim Kelley to the hill Tuesday against the Jayhawks. Kelley is 2-1 this season with a 5.29 ERA. In his last start, Kelley held Binghamton to a run on two hits over five innings to pick up the win March 25.

Head coach Gene Stephenson is in his 31st season at WSU and has an overall record of 1,625-536-3 at the school. Stephenson led the team to a 53-22 record last season and another trip to the NCAA Regionals.

Scouting the Spires

St. Mary comes into the week with a 12-9 record after splitting a doubleheader with Sterling College on Saturday. USM will play Park University on Tuesday before coming to Hoglund Ballpark.

Senior catcher Cody Newman has hit safely in every game this season and leads the team with a .569 batting average, an .843 slugging percentage and 11 doubles this season. Junior Hogan Matson is batting .370 on the year with five doubles and nine RBIs.

Senior right-handed pitcher John Bromell is USM’s top pitcher, posting a 5-0 record with a 3.71 ERA in six starts this season. Bromell has walked six and struck out 20.

Head coach Rob Miller is in his sixth season at USM and has a 127-131-1 record at the school. Miller led the Spires to a 20-21 mark in 2007.

Last Time Out

Texas A&M third baseman Dane Carter lined a two-run single to center field in the top of the eighth to break an eight-all tie and lead the 20th-ranked Aggies to a 10-8 triumph over Kansas Sunday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark. Four different Jayhawks had two hits in the game, while Preston Land drove in a pair of runs with a double in the second inning.

Noting the Jayhawks

– Kansas will look to snap a three-game losing streak Tuesday against No. 8 Wichita State. The three straight losses matches a season high.

– The Jayhawks have proven they know how to come from behind. KU trailed in all three games against Texas A&M, yet came back and held leads going into the seventh inning in both the Saturday and Sunday games. The six-run second-inning deficit the Jayhawks erased on Sunday was a season high.

– KU pitchers picked off four base runners in the three midweek games last week, including two by lefty Sam Freeman. For the season, KU has picked off nine runners, while only being picked off three times.

– Kansas fell in 10 innings on Saturday, marking the team’s third extra innings defeat of the season.

– Junior catcher Buck Afenir homered in the first inning of Saturday’s game. Afenir has three round-trippers in his last eight games.

– Senior John Allman has hit safely in 20 of his last 22 games. During that stretch, the Kansas left fielder is batting .471 with eight doubles, two homers and 24 RBIs.

– Senior Matt Berner went 1-for-4 with two runs scored against Chicago State on March 26. Berner has three hits in his last five games.

– Senior Justin Ellrich singled to extend the ninth inning Sunday against Texas A&M. Ellrich has been one of KU’s top pinch hitters this year, going 2-for-6 in that role.

– Junior Nick Faunce had two hits Friday against Texas A&M. It was the Kansas center fielder’s seventh multi-hit game this season and first against a Big 12 opponent.

– Freshman Brian Heere collected his third hit of the season in the March 26 game against Chicago State.

– Freshman Greg Herbst was a defensive replacement March 21 against Ohio State. The 6-foot-5 freshman is still perfect at the plate this year, collecting a hit in his only at-bat.

– Junior Preston Land was dropped to No. 7 in the batting order and has responded with a hot bat in the last seven games. From the No. 7 spot in the order, Land has hit .348 with five doubles and seven RBIs.

– Senior Casey Larson has been one of KU’s better clutch players this season. Larson is batting .293 with men on base and .303 with two outs.

– Freshman Casey Lytle doubled in his first KU at-bat against North Dakota State on March 9.

– Senior Erik Morrison has also swung a clutch bat this year. Morrison is batting .356 with runners on base and has a .396 average with men in scoring position, compared to a .196 average with the bases empty.

– Sophomore Robby Price had his best weekend of the season, going 6-for-15 against Texas A&M. This season he is batting .308 in Big 12 games.

– Senior Ryne Price finished the month of March batting .348 with six homers, 33 RBIs and a 1.088 OPS. Price will look to continue his hot hitting into April.

– Senior Joe Southers collected three hits in the Texas A&M series, including his fifth multiple- hit game of the season Sunday. Southers is batting .333 (6-for-18) in five conference games this year.

– Freshman Tony Thompson broke a string of three straight multi-hit games Sunday against Texas A&M. However, Thompson hit .316 during the last week to raise his batting average by nearly 30 points.

– Freshman Zach Thoma collected his second hit of the season on March 21 against Ohio State. He is 2-for-3 in four games this season.

– Sophomore Brett Bollman did some heavy lifting, making four appearances in six games during the week in Bradenton, Fla. The 5-foot-9 sophomore pitched two scoreless innings for the win against Northwestern on Sunday and picked up his first collegiate save on March 20 against Dartmouth.

– Freshman Brett Bochy recorded two strikeouts in his one-inning appearance Friday against Texas A&M. Bochy has struck out at least one hitter in all eight appearances this season.

– Junior Nick Czyz deserved a better fate Saturday. The 6-foot-1 lefty allowed three runs over 5 1/3 innings and left the game with a 6-3 lead.

– Senior Andres Esquibel recorded KU’s longest start in two years when he tossed eight innings against Dartmouth on March 20. Esquibel’s start was the longest since Kodiak Quick logged eight innings of work against Vanderbilt on Feb. 26, 2006.

– Sophomore Shaeffer Hall is tied for the Big 12 lead with six games started this season. Hall threw five scoreless innings March 26 to earn his second victory of the season. Of Hall’s six starts, he has allowed two runs or less in five of them.

– Senior Matt Lane pitched 1 1/3 innings of relief on March 20 against CCSU for his first victory as a Jayhawk. Lane had made 27 appearances without a decision prior to the win over the Blue Devils.

– Junior Paul Smyth earned three saves in four appearances during the week in Bradenton, Fla. The third-year reliever was especially efficient in his outing March 23 against Northwestern, needing just 10 pitches to retire six Wildcat hitters and earn his fifth save of the season.

– Freshman T.J. Walz has been KU’s most effective pitcher over the last couple of weeks. The 6-foot righty came on in the third inning Sunday and retired nine straight Aggies. He allowed a two-run homer with two outs in the seventh, which broke a string of 12 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings, dating back to his start against UMBC.

Ramblin’ Man

Senior John Allmanwas a thorn in the Aggies side all weekend. The Kansas left fielder went 5-for-9 with a double and four RBIs. He was also hit by pitch four times and drew a pair of walks, reaching base in 11-of-15 plate appearances.

Allman has been more than productive as the No. 3 hitter this season, reaching base at a .508 clip while slugging .535. As productive as he has been, Allman has been down right scary at Hoglund Ballpark, hitting .645 in 11 home games with six doubles, two homers and 18 RBIs. His on-base percentage at home is a remarkable .755.

Sacrifice Yourself

Sophomore Robby Price added to his nation-leading number of sacrifices with a first inning bunt Friday against Texas A&M. Price’s 18 sacrifice hits give him the school’s single-season record, besting older brother Ritchie by one. As a sophomore, Price already is three sacrifices away from the KU career record of 35.

During the Texas A&M series, Price also swung a big bat, collecting six hits in the three-game series.

Freshman Phenom

Kansas freshman right-handed pitcher T.J. Walz struggled in his first college appearance against Hawaii-Hilo, but has been a solid contributor since.

After the appearance against the Vulcans where he did not record an out, Walz has pitched 19 1/3 innings and allowed just four runs on 14 hits with just four walks and 17 strikeouts. Walz broke a streak of 12 1/3 scoreless innings in the seventh inning of Sunday’s game against Texas A&M, giving up a two-run home run to Luke Anders.

It also marked the first time he has given up more than one run in a game since his initial appearance.

Record Breaker

Senior Ryne Price became KU’s career home run leader on March 21, belting a two-run homer against UMBC to break a tie and lift the Jayhawks to a 4-1 win. Price’s 30th homer passes former Jayhawk – and current Texas Ranger – Travis Metcalf, who had 29 round-trippers from 2002-04.

Hitting a clutch home run is nothing new for Price. During his KU career, 10 of his 30 home runs have either tied the game or given KU the lead.

Up Next
The Jayhawks will travel to Baylor this weekend for a three-game Big 12 series against the Bears Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Friday and Saturday’s games are scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m., while Sunday’s finale is slated for a 1 p.m. start. The Friday and Sunday games will be available on KLWN Radio (1320 AM) with veteran play-by-play man Tom Hedrick on the call.

Season Tickets on Sale

Kansas baseball season tickets are on sale now. Fans can order tickets by calling the Jayhawk ticket office at 800-34-HAWKS or by logging on to kuathletics.com.