Jayhawks Wrap Up Homestand with No. 22 Texas A&M

April 1, 2010


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Kansas vs. Texas A&M

After recording their sixth win in the last seven games, the Kansas Jayhawks complete a weeklong homestand with a three-game Big 12 series against No. 22 Texas A&M. The series will open Thursday at 6 p.m., and will conclude with a 6 p.m. game Friday and an 11 a.m. finale Saturday at Hoglund Ballpark. The series was moved up from the traditional Friday-Sunday format due to the Easter holiday this weekend.

Radio station KLWN-AM (1320) will broadcast the entire KU-A&M series with Brian Hanni and Tom Hedrick on the call. Fans can also tune-in via the internet at www.klwn.com.

Series with Texas A&M

Thursday’s game between KU and Texas A&M will be the 57th all-time meeting between the schools in a series that dates back to 1906. The Aggies lead the all-time series 42-14, including 12-6 in games played in Lawrence. Texas A&M has won seven-straight in the series, dating back to a 17-13 KU victory in 11 innings on March 17, 2007.

About the Jayhawks

Kansas rebounded from a four-game losing streak by posting a 6-1 record in its last seven games. Four of the six wins during that stretch have come by one run, while in three of those games KU had to erase a multi-run deficit.

KU’s offense ranks sixth in the Big 12 with a .311 batting average. The Jayhawks are averaging 7.6 runs per game. Junior Brian Heere leads the offense with a team-best .375 batting average, seven doubles and 25 runs scored.

On the mound, KU has a team ERA of 4.82, which ranks seventh in the league. Junior closer Brett Bochy has been dominant out of the bullpen, posting a 2-0 record with four saves and an 0.83 ERA in 11 appearances.

Scouting the Aggies

Texas A&M enters the weekend series with Kansas having dropped two in a row, falling to Missouri (13-4) Sunday, and in 11 innings to Texas State (6-5) on Tuesday. The Aggies have had a shot to sweep both of their Big 12 series this season, but have dropped the Sunday game in each case.

A&M’s offense ranks fourth in the Big 12 with a .319 season batting average. The Aggies are averaging 6.2 runs per game. Senior outfielder Brodie Greene leads the team with a .407 batting average and a league-best six triples this season. Junior infielder Caleb Shofner has hit a team-best five homers with 24 RBIs.

Texas A&M’s team ERA (3.04) ranks second in the league. KU will see arguably the Big 12’s best pitcher in Barrett Loux, who comes in with a 4-1 record and a 1.29 ERA in six starts this year. Loux leads the league in strikeouts (58).

The Aggies were picked to finish third in the Big 12 this season in the preseason coaches’ poll.

Last Time Out

Sophomore Zac Elgie went 2-for-4 with a solo home run which proved to be the winning run, while senior Robby Price added two hits, including a two-run homer as Kansas held off Missouri State, 7-6, in a non-conference baseball game Wednesday evening at Hoglund Ballpark.

The Price is Right

Senior second baseman Robby Price followed up his Big 12 Player of the Week-winning performance by going 4-for-7 with two doubles, a homer and four RBIs in KU’s midweek victories over Arkansas-Little Rock and Missouri State.

The fourth-year infielder is in the midst of a 10-game hitting streak – his longest since his freshman year (16 games) – in which he’s batting .432 with four doubles, two homers and 16 RBIs from the No. 2 spot in the batting order.

Seeing Price turn it on to open Big 12 play should come as no surprise, as in his career, the senior infielder is batting .323 in conference games, while hitting under .300 in non-conference affairs.

Bochy Honored by College Baseball Insider

Junior relief pitcher Brett Bochy was named College Baseball Insider’s Central Region Pitcher of the Week on Wednesday. The Kansas junior earned two wins and a save in three appearances against Baylor and Creighton last week, allowing one run on four hits over 9 1/3 innings. This included a six-inning performance at Baylor Sunday, which saw the closer retire 18 of 18 hitters.

Not only was Bochy dominant in his six innings of relief at Baylor, he was also efficient. After throwing 38 pitches in a two-inning save on March 26, the Kansas junior needed just 56 pitches to retire 18 batters Sunday. Bochy recorded five outs on the first pitch of the at bat, and went to a full count just three times – collecting strikeouts in each case.

This season, the junior is 2-0 with a team-best four saves and a 0.83 ERA in 11 relief appearances.

Bochy, Price Earn Big 12 Weekly Awards

For the second time in three weeks, Kansas baseball had two players honored with Big 12 weekly awards. Senior second baseman Robby Price and junior relief pitcher Brett Bochy were named conference Player and co-Pitcher of the Week, respectively, Monday afternoon by the league office. Bochy shared the award with Nebraska’s Tom Lemke.

Cardiac Kids

Kansas has had a flair for the dramatic in recent weeks, winning four games by a single run, including three games where the Jayhawks had to rally from a multi-run deficit. KU trailed by two runs in the fifth inning against Creighton (March 23), four runs in the fifth at Baylor (March 26), two runs in the sixth at Baylor (March 28) and by four runs in the seventh inning on Tuesday against Arkansas-Little Rock.

Each time, KU found a way to collect the key base hit and produce a big inning. In its last seven games, Kansas had produced seven innings in which the team scored three runs or more. Four of those big innings happened when the Jayhawks were either tied or trailed in the game.

Home Sweet Home

Kansas will look to continue its winning ways at Hoglund Ballpark this weekend, with its first conference series at home. Since the beginning of the 2008 season, KU has gone 53-11 (.828) at home. The Jayhawks have lost just three Big 12 series at Hoglund Ballpark since the beginning of the 2008 season, which includes three-game sweeps of Texas Tech (2008), Oklahoma (2008), Texas (2009), Oklahoma State (2009) and a two-game sweep of Kansas State (2009).

This season, the Jayhawks have produced a 9-1 record at home and have outscored their 10 opponents by a 96-35 margin. As a team, KU is batting .347 at home, while allowing opponents a .256 batting average.

Senior Brett Lisher has been the team’s top hitter in home contests, batting .448 (13-for-29) this season.

Around the Horn

– Kansas will look to snap a seven-game losing streak to Texas A&M this weekend. The Aggies are the only team that KU has not earned a series victory against in the last two-plus seasons.

– Last season, Texas A&M outscored KU by a slim 16-11 margin in College Station, with two of the games decided by one run.

– KU’s last win in the series was a 17-13 triumph in 11 innings on March 17, 2007, which was tied for the team’s second-longest Big 12 game prior to last Sunday’s 14-inning thriller at Baylor.

– The Jayhawks earned their first-ever series victory at Baylor last weekend, taking two of three in Waco. Prior to the win on March 26, KU was 1-20 all-time against the Bears in Waco.

– Sunday’s win over Baylor was a classic. The teams played 14 innings, which is the longest Big 12 game in KU history. The Jayhawk bullpen held the Bears without a base hit over the final 11 innings, and did not allow a baserunner after the bottom of the eighth.

– Kansas recorded its first walk-off win of the season March 23 against Creighton as Brandon Macias’ RBI single in the bottom of the ninth broke a 4-4 tie.

– KU took two in a three-game series against then-No. 1 LSU March 12-14, marking the second-straight year the Jayhawks have defeated a top-ranked team. In 2009, KU swept a three-game series from then-No. 1 Texas.

– Jumping out to an early lead has been KU’s M.O. this season. The Jayhawks have outscored their opposition 67-18 in the first two innings of a game this year, including 40-10 in the second inning of games. On March 12 against LSU, KU scored six runs in the second inning en route to an 11-9 victory.

– KU has done a great job of limiting its strikeouts this season. Through 26 games, KU has struck out a total of 143 times (5.5 per game). In the same time period, the Jayhawks have scored 198 runs, giving them a plus-55 in its runs/strikeouts ratio. Last year, KU was just plus-one in the same ratio.

– Sophomore Jason Brunansky continued to swing a hot bat in home games, going 2-for-3 with two walks against Arkansas-Little Rock Tuesday. Brunansky is batting .500 (8-for-16) at home, compared to .250 (4-for-16) away from Hoglund Ballpark.

– Freshman Jordan Dreiling subbed for Tony Thompson in the March 28 game at Baylor, and collected three hits in Thompson’s place in the lineup, including a two-run single to break the game open in the top of the 14th inning.

– Sophomore Zac Elgie hit his second home run in one week’s time in the eighth inning of Wednesday’s win over Missouri State. The round-tripper proved crucial as MSU’s ninth-inning rally fell one run short.

– Center fielder Brian Heere has done his best work in the clutch. The junior outfielder is batting over 60 points higher with men on base (.403 to .341), including a .533 average (16-for-30) with men in scoring position.

– Senior first baseman Brett Lisher got back on track with a pair of RBI hits in Wednesday’s win over Missouri State. Prior to his first inning single against the Bears, Lisher had been hitless in his previous 13 at bats.

– Right fielder Casey Lytle tied a school record March 28, being hit by pitch three times in the game against Baylor. Lytle is the fifth Jayhawk player to wear three pitches in the same game. He has been hit 13 times already this season, just six shy of the school record of 19, held by Ryne Price.

– Junior shortstop Brandon Macias snapped a seven-game hitting streak Wednesday night against Missouri State. However, during his seven-game streak, Macias had put his early season struggles behind him, batting .400 (10-for-25) with a double and a triple during the streak.

– Kansas catcher Chris Manship has hit safely in six of his last seven games. The second-year backstop has shown the ability to hit even when behind in the count, collecting 10 two-strike base hits this year.

– Kansas redshirt freshman Jake Marasco impressed in his first start in a conference game. The KU designated hitter recorded a two-hit game against Baylor Sunday – his fourth multi-hit contest of the season. The redshirt freshman has hit safely in nine of his 11 starts this season.

– Senior second baseman Robby Price hit his second home run in the last five days Wednesday against Missouri State. Price has nine career homers, including six against Big 12 foes.

– Sophomore catcher James Stanfield’s offense has been a difference for the Jayhawks this season. In KU’s 17 wins, Stanfield is batting .318 (14-for-44), while in the team’s nine losses, the second-year player is hitting just .200.

– Junior third baseman Tony Thompson returned to form last weekend against Baylor, collecting six hits in 10 at bats against the Bears, including two doubles and a homer. In 10 career games against the Bears, Thompson has batted .487 with five homers, 15 RBIs and a .949 slugging percentage.

– Junior left fielder Jimmy Waters had back-to-back three-hit games at Baylor last weekend, giving him 10 multi-hit games this season. Prior to this season, Waters had just eight multi-hit games in his career.

– Senior relief pitcher Travis Blankenship made his 15th appearance of the spring on Tuesday against Arkansas-Little Rock, and worked out of a jam. Blankenship is tied for the Big 12 lead in appearances (15).

– Junior relief pitcher Brett Bochy has allowed just three extra base hits (two doubles and a homer) since April 26 of last season, spanning 36 2/3 innings. During that time, Bochy’s ERA is 1.23.

– Junior relief pitcher Matt Kohorst earned wins in back-to-back relief appearances this week. The junior righty is holding opposing hitters to a .115 batting average this year, including just one hit (1-for-10) with men on base.

– Junior left-handed pitcher Wally Marciel made his first start since April 2, 2008 Wednesday against Missouri State. Marciel, who missed the entire 2009 season following Tommy John surgery, held the Bears scoreless over the first two innings on one hit.

– Sophomore Colton Murray has bounced back from a rough start to the season. After allowing eight runs in his first two appearances of the season, Murray has held opponents to just two earned runs in his last nine games – including a scoreless ninth against Arkansas-Little Rock Tuesday.

– Freshman Tanner Poppe tossed one of the best long relief stints in KU history on Sunday. The first-year righty held Baylor hitless over 3 1/3 innings to allow Kansas to rally and tie the game in the sixth inning. Poppe has allowed just one earned run over his last five outings.

– While it wasn’t the outing he was hoping for, T.J. Walz gutted out 6 2/3 innings against Baylor on March 26 to earn his fourth win. The junior was shelled for five runs in the third inning, but after a leadoff single in the fourth, allowed just one more baserunner in his final 3 2/3 innings pitched.

Up Next

Kansas will hit the road for nine-straight games away from Hoglund Ballpark, beginning with a Wednesday night non-conference game against Creighton at Rosenblatt Stadium on April 7 at 6 p.m. KU defeated the Bluejays 5-4 earlier this season and have won four-straight against CU.