KU faces in-state foes, K-State, Kansas Wesleyan

April 3, 2007

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The Kansas baseball team travels to Manhattan, Kan. Tuesday for a non-conference game against Big 12 rival Kansas State at 7 p.m. The Jayhawks and Wildcats will meet later in the season for a three-game conference series. Tuesday’s game will not count in the Big 12 standings. On Wednesday, KU hosts Kansas Wesleyan at 4 p.m., in a game that was scheduled to make up for games lost to the weather earlier in the season. <?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

Scouting the Wildcats

K-State enters Tuesday evening’s game with a 20-8 record overall and a 3-3 conference record. The Wildcats took two-of-three from Texas Tech over the weekend. KSU started the season at 17-4, but has dropped four of its last seven.

Sophomore outfielder Byron Wiley leads the K-State with a .381 batting average, a .500 on-base percentage and 20 runs scored. Senior infielder Eli Rumler is tops on the squad with eight doubles.

On the mound, junior Brad Hutt has been the team’s best starting pitcher posting a 5-1 record with a 2.68 ERA with a complete game shut out. Junior reliever Daniel Edwards is the team’s ace out of the bullpen, with eight saves in 11 scoreless appearances. Edwards has struck out 25 in 16 innings.

Kansas State head coach Brad Hill is in his fourth season at the school and has an overall record of 107-83. Hill is a former KU assistant coach, working under Dave Bingham from 1991-94. Hill’s current team returns 17 letterwinners and five position starters from last year’s squad, which finished 31-20 and ninth in the Big 12.

This will mark the 310th all-time meeting between the Kansas schools since 1898. The Jayhawks hold a slight 156-152 edge with one tie. KU took two of three games from the Wildcats during the 2006 season.

Last Time Out

Kansas and Missouri played in a cardiac series where all three games went down to the wire. KU rallied for a 7-5 victory in the ninth inning Friday, while a two-run rally in the final stanza on Saturday fell short by a single run. The Jayhawks erased an eight-run deficit and took a 9-8 lead in the top of the ninth, only to lose on a walk-off homer in the rubber game.

Second baseman Ryne Price led the way, hitting three homers in the series, including two in Sunday’s loss. Catcher Buck Afenir also had a two-homer game during the weekend.

Lights, Camera, Jayhawks

KU is scheduled to make its first of three television appearances Tuesday against K-State. The game, which will be played at Tointon Stadium in Manhattan, will be broadcast on Fox College Sports Central (Channel 145 on Sunflower Broadband). Wyatt Thompson and former K-State head coach Mike Clark will call the action.

Get Your Radio On

The Jayhawks’ game at K-State will be broadcast on KLWN (1320-AM) in Lawrence as well as on kuathletics.com.

KLWN will broadcast the remaining conference games this season as well as a handful of midweek contests. Veteran play-by-play man Tom Hedrick will call the action from Manhattan.

Erik the Red

Junior shortstop Erik Morrison had three hits in Friday’s game at Missouri, but none bigger than his two-run homer to left field in the top of the ninth which erased the Tigers’ 5-4 lead and propelled KU to a 7-5 win.

It marked the first time that the Jayhawks had rallied from a ninth-inning deficit this season and the first of three ninth inning homers hit by KU during the series.

With the round-tripper, Morrison moved into a tie for seventh-place in career home runs at KU with 23.

The Price is Right

Junior second baseman Ryne Price hit three home runs against Missouri over the weekend, including a pair of ninth-inning homers. His solo shot Friday gave Kansas a two-run lead, while his blast to right field on Sunday tied the game at eight.

Sunday also marked the first time the 5-foot-10 junior hit more than one home run in a game. He currently leads the team with seven homers on the season and has moved into 11th place all-time at KU with 21 career home runs.

The Buck Stops Here

Sophomore catcher Buck Afenir homered in his first two at-bats Saturday to become the first KU player to hit multiple home runs in a game this season. It also marked Afenir’s first career two home run game.

The sophomore catcher is third on the team with five round-trippers, including a grand slam on March 4. Afenir hit four home runs as a freshman, including three after April 1.

Pulling Rank

During the month of March, the University of Kansas played one of the most grueling schedules in all of college baseball. The Jayhawks saw nationally ranked opponents nearly every time on the field.

Since March 9, the Jayhawks have played 13 games against nationally ranked teams, including six against teams in the top ten at the time of the games, Arkansas (#10) and Texas A&M (#8).

The road doesn’t get any easier as this weekend’s opponent, Texas, is ranked as high as No. 6 in the USA Today/ESPN poll.

Closing In

With his win over No. 25 Missouri Friday, head coach Ritch Price moved to within five victories of third place in all-time wins at the University of Kansas. Price is chasing former KU coach Bobby Randall, who had 166 career victories with the Jayhawks from 1996 to 2002. Floyd Temple holds the program record with 438 wins.

Around the Horn

– Today’s game with K-State is the first of four meetings between the two Big 12 schools. This game does not count towards the teams’ conference standings. The three-game series scheduled for May 4-6 will be league games.

– KU erased an eight-run deficit in Sunday’s finale at Missouri. It is the largest deficit a Kansas team has overcome under head coach Ritch Price. The largest deficit overcome prior to Sunday was six runs at Hawaii-Hilo on Jan. 18, 2004; a game KU won 14-9.

– The Jayhawks hit six home runs in last weekend’s series at Missouri. It was the most KU has hit in a three-game series this season and also the most since hitting eight at Oklahoma State April 14-16 last year.

– Sophomore Buck Afenir collected two hits in back-to-back games last weekend, hitting a pair of home runs Saturday and two singles on Friday. The catcher has seven two-hit games this season.

– Sophomore Preston Land broke out of a prolonged slump Saturday with a two-run double in the ninth inning and then went 2-for-4 Sunday. It was Land’s second multi-hit game of the season.

– Junior Ryne Price enjoyed his first two-homer game Sunday with a pair of solo shots against the Tigers. Price is eighth in the Big 12 with a .639 slugging percentage.

– Price also reached the 100-hit plateau over the weekend and is the fourth active player with 100 or more hits in his career.

– Junior Erik Morrison has driven in KU’s game-winning runs in two of the team’s three conference victories. His home run lifted the Jayhawks to a 7-5 win Friday, while his RBI double in the top of the 11th sparked KU’s 17-13 win in 11 innings at Texas A&M on March 17.

– Morrison also became the 30th player to collect 150 hits as a Jayhawk. The shortstop is second among active players with 153 base hits at KU.

– Freshman Robby Price collected his first two-hit game since March 18 on Sunday, going 2-for-4 with a double and a pair of RBIs.

– Senior Kyle Murphy leads the team with 12 multiple hit games, including a team-high four three-hit games. Last season, Murphy had two or more hits just four times.

– Designated hitter Joe Servais hit his first home run of the season in Saturday’s loss to Missouri. The junior transfer became the ninth different Jayhawk to go yard this season.

– Junior righty Hiarali Garcia made his first appearance in more than two weeks against Missouri Saturday. In his first weekend of conference action, Garcia threw two innings and allowed just three singles while walking none and striking out three.

– Freshman Wally Marciel has been exceptional out of the bullpen over the last two weeks. The 6-foot-2 lefty allowed just two hits and a walk in three scoreless innings of work Sunday. The freshman’s effectiveness allowed KU to climb back into the game.

Oh, What a Night

On March 17, Kansas and eighth-ranked Texas A&M competed in a baseball battle of epic proportions. The teams combined for 30 runs and 33 hits in 11 innings, that ended after KU’s Erik Morrison, Dylan Parzyk and Justin Ellrich drove in runs in the top of the 11th and Jayhawk reliever Paul Smyth retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning.

KU held a 10-2 lead after the top of the fifth, but surrendered eight runs in the bottom of the inning. The Jayhawks took the lead twice before extra innings, only to be equalized again in the next half-inning.

The Jayhawks’ top three in the batting order: Kyle Murphy, Robby Price and John Allman combined for nine hits, seven runs scored and seven RBIs.

Crowded House

KU’s game against No. 12 Wichita State drew the biggest home crowd of the season and the 10th largest crowd in Hoglund Ballpark history. The paid attendance of 1,757 was the fourth-largest crowd to see a game between the Shockers and the Jayhawks in Lawrence.

KU set the single-game record last season, drawing 2,324 fans to the annual game with its in-state rival.

Early to Rise

KU’s three-game series against South Dakota State was played at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis.

The Jayhawks and Jackrabbits opened play on Saturday morning with a doubleheader at 1:30 a.m. The second game of the twinbill was suspended due to time constraints and completed Sunday morning at 3:30 a.m., prior to the third game of the series.

The unusual starting times for the three contests were due to the Hurricane Winter Invitational which was already scheduled in the dome that weekend. The invitational featured NCAA Division II and NAIA teams from neighboring states.

Major League Bloodlines

Several players on the 2007 Jayhawk baseball team have relatives who have played in the major leagues. They include:
– Buck Afenir’s uncle, Troy Afenir, played in four major league seasons for Houston, Oakland and Cincinnati.
– Brett Bochy’s father, Bruce Bochy, played in the major leagues from 1978-87 for Houston, San Diego and the New York Mets. He also managed the Padres from 1995-2006, and is the current manager of the San Francisco Giants.
– Casey Larson’s father, Dan Larson, played in the major leagues from 1967-82. He played for Houston, Philadelphia and the Chicago Cubs.
– Joe Servais’ cousin, Scott Servais, played in the major leagues from 1991-2001 for Houston, Colorado, San Francisco and the Chicago Cubs.

Oh, Brother

A handful of Jayhawks have also followed older siblings onto the KU baseball team. They include:
– Nick Czyz’ older brother Don pitched at KU from 2003-06. Don was drafted by the Florida Marlins after last season.
– Preston Land’s brother, Sean, pitched for the Jayhawks from 2004-06. Sean was drafted by the Minnesota Twins at the conclusion of the 2006 season.
– Ryne and Robby Price’s older brother, Ritchie, also played at KU from 2003-06. Ritchie was drafted by the New York Mets last season.

Up Next

Kansas will play host to No. 6 Texas in a three-game series at Hoglund Ballpark beginning Thursday evening at 7 p.m. In the Longhorns’ last visit to Lawrence, the Jayhawks took two-of-three from the eventual national champions in a series that was carried on ESPNU.