Jayhawks Look to Get Back on Track Against No. 19 Baylor

March 31, 2011

Game Notes in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

#19 Baylor (16-10, 3-3) at Kansas (10-14, 2-4)

Friday-Sunday, April 1-3, 2011

Hoglund Ballpark (2,500) – Lawrence, Kan.


Friday, April 1

Saturday, April 2

Sunday, April 3

Kansas baseball will play host to No. 19 Baylor in a three-game Big 12 series at Hoglund Ballpark this weekend. The Jayhawks and Bears will open the three-game set Friday at 6 p.m., and complete the series with games Saturday at 2 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m.

All three contests will be broadcast live on KLWN (1320 AM) in Lawrence. Fans outside of the Lawrence listening area can hear the games online at klwn.com. Live video is also available for a subscription fee at kuathletics.com.

Series History

Baylor leads the all-time series with Kansas, 41-8, including 16-5 in games played in Lawrence. The Jayhawks and Bears have been conference foes since 1997, however, the first recorded meeting came on April 6, 1957. KU is 6-20 against the Bears under head coach Ritch Price, including the Jayhawks’ first series win over BU last season.

About the Jayhawks

Following a three-game winning streak, the Jayhawks have dropped four-straight, including a 6-0 loss at Missouri State Wednesday. Kansas has gone 8-4 at home this season and just 1-7 on the road.

KU is batting .234 as a team and averaging 3.0 runs per game. Sophomore Jake Marasco leads the team with a .322 batting average with five doubles and eight RBIs this season. The Jayhawks’ pitching staff has posted a 3.63 team ERA, which ranks seventh in the Big 12, and is holding opponents to a .265 batting average. Junior closer Colton Murray leads the staff, going 2-0 with a 1.86 ERA in eight appearances.

Scouting the Bears

Baylor dropped home games to UTSA (4-2) and Lamar (7-3) during the midweek and has lost three of four after a 15-7 start. The Bears are 3-1 on the road this season.

Baylor is batting .293 as a team with seven homers and is averaging 6.1 runs per game. Sophomore first baseman Max Muncy leads the Bears’ offense with a .356 batting average with two homers and a team-best 23 RBIs. Junior outfielder Brooks Pinckard is hitting .345 and has stolen a league-best 24 bases this season.

On the mound, Baylor has posted a 4.69 team ERA and is holding opponents to a .276 batting average. Junior righty Logan Verrett is the clear-cut ace of the staff with a 3-1 record and 3.44 ERA in six starts. Verrett has 43 strikeouts and just 10 walks in 36 2/3 innings on the hill. Pinckard leads the bullpen with three saves and has a 4.41 ERA in 11 appearances this year.

Baylor head coach Steve Smith is in his 17th year with the Bears and has a record of 604-397 at the school. Smith has led the Bears to the NCAA Tournament in each of the last four seasons and a College World Series appearance in 2005.

Last Time Out

Senior Brandon Macias had three hits, but it was not enough for the Jayhawks Wednesday night. Missouri State’s Aaron Conway went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, while starting pitcher Blake Barber tossed seven shutout innings as the Bears shut out Kansas, 6-0, Wednesday night at Hammons Field.

Kansas-Baylor Connections

– Kansas has three players on its roster from the state of Texas: redshirt Alex Harris (Murphy), outfielder Taylor Hart (Jasper) and relief pitcher Tyler Smith (Cypress).

– Baylor infielder Nate Goodwin is from Overland Park, Kan., and attended Rockhurst High School. Kansas pitchers Colton Murray and Conner Murray are both Overland Park natives, but attended Olathe East High School.

– Kansas outfielder Alex Harris and Baylor outfielder Chris Slater both attended Plano East High School in Plano, Texas.

Casey at the Bat

Senior Casey Lytle collected two more hits in Wednesday’s loss to Missouri State to extend his hitting streak to 13 consecutive games. Lytle’s streak is tied for the third-longest in the Big 12 this season and is the longest by a Jayhawk since Robby Price hit safely in 22-straight games last year.

During the streak, Lytle is batting .367 and has raised his batting average over 100 points. He also has five multi-hit contests during the 13-game streak.

Wonder Walz

Kansas senior pitcher T.J. Walz has found his groove over his last three starts. Since March 11, Walz has posted a 2.53 ERA, allowing just four earned runs over 21 1/3 innings. The senior righty has also struck out 26 and walked just four during this timeframe.

Walz ranks in KU’s career top 10 in several categories and has padded this in the last three weekends. He is the team’s all-time leader in strikeouts (263) and is tied for fourth in wins (22), ninth in strikeouts per 9 IP (8.55), tied for third in games started (42) and is sixth in innings pitched (276.2).

Colton 45

Kansas closer Colton Murray has put a rough sophomore season behind him and been a dominant force out of the bullpen this year. The junior righty ranks fourth in the Big 12 with four saves in five opportunities and has a 2-0 record. He pitched seven innings of relief to pick up his first win at TCU on Feb. 20 and tossed four innings in a series-clinching win against Oklahoma State on March 20.

The key for Murray this season has been his ability to control the strike zone. During the 2010 season, Murray walked 17 hitters in 31 2/3 innings (4.83 per 9 IP), while this season he has walked just two in 19 1/3 innings (0.93 per 9 IP).

Diamond Notes

– Baylor is ranked No. 19 in this week’s Baseball America poll, which represents the fifth ranked opponent KU has faced. The Jayhawks will have played a Big 12 high 11 games against Top 25 foes after the weekend.

– KU’s first eight games against ranked teams were against teams ranked in the top 10 at the time of the game, while seven of them were on the road. The Jayhawks played No. 7 Arizona State at a tournament in Surprise, Ariz.

– The grueling schedule has helped KU maintain a good RPI, despite a 10-14 record. Following action Wednesday, the Jayhawks are ranked 70th in psuedo RPI according to BoydsWorld.com.

– KU has been tough to beat (or tie) at home this season. The Jayhawks are 8-4 at Hoglund Ballpark and 66-23-1 (.739) at home over the last three-plus seasons.

– As would be expected, KU has hit and pitched better at Hoglund Ballpark this year. The Jayhawks are batting .276 at home, compared to just .196 on the road. The pitching staff’s ERA is 2.97 in Lawrence and 5.05 in away games.

– In recent games, KU has been stellar with two outs. Since the start of the Oklahoma State series on March 18, the Jayhawks have collected 13 two-out RBIs and are batting .300 (27-for-90) with two outs in an inning.

– Four runs scored has been the magic number for the Jayhawk offense this season. KU is 1-13 when scoring three runs or less and 9-1 when the team scores four runs or more.

– With a lack of offensive production, the Jayhawks have been forced to run more than in the past. KU has stolen 25 bases in 39 attempts this season. Kansas stole 29 bases in 35 attempts all of last year.

– 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).

Missouri State Game Leftovers

– The Jayhawks were shut out for the second time this season and the first time since March 4 against Cal State Bakersfield Wednesday.

– Despite being shut out, the KU offense produced nine hits, including three by senior Brandon Macias.

– Macias’ three hits Wednesday matched a season-high. The senior shortstop also went 3-for-4 in the series finale against Eastern Michigan on March 11.

– KU right fielder Casey Lytle went 2-for-4 Wednesday to extend his hitting streak to 13-straight games.

– Senior left fielder Jimmy Waters recorded his sixth double of the season, which ties him for the team lead with Zac Elgie.

– Kansas junior right-handed pitcher Jordan Jakubov recorded his fourth-straight scoreless relief appearance, which spans 5 1/3 innings. Jakubov also has not allowed a hit in his last two appearances.

Up Next

Kansas opens a busy week on Tuesday with a rematch against Missouri State at 6 p.m. at Hoglund Ballpark. The Jayhawks will also face Border Showdown Rival Missouri at Kauffman Stadium Wednesday evening at 5:30 p.m.