Jayhawks Face No. 29 Baylor in Waco This Weekend

April 3, 2008

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The Kansas baseball team travels to Waco, Texas to face No. 29 Baylor in a three-game Big 12 series this weekend. The Jayhawks and Bears will battle at 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday night, while Sunday’s finale is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start.

KLWN-Radio (1320 AM) will broadcast the Friday and Sunday games of the series. Veteran play-by-play man Tom Hedrick will call the two games from Waco.

The Series vs. Baylor

Baylor leads the all-time series with Kansas, 33-5, including a 17-1 record in Waco. KU’s only win at Baylor Ballpark came in 2006, as the Jayhawks earned a 6-5 decision on March 18. The win broke a nine-game BU winning streak in the series. The Jayhawks took one of three games in Lawrence last season, using a Ryne Price walk-off homer to win the second game of the series.

Scouting the Bears

Baylor (16-11) enters the weekend after a pair of losses in its mid-week games. Like the Jayhawks, the Bears have struggled after a hot start. BU has gone 5-10 after starting the season 11-1.

Freshman infielder Landis Ware is Baylor’s leading hitter with a .332 batting average, while sophomore Aaron Miller is hitting .304 with eight home runs and 20 RBIs. BU has five regulars hitting above .300, and four starting position players hitting below .230.

The Bears will start three right-handers against KU. Sophomore Kendall Volz (3-2, 5.40 ERA) is the Friday night starter, while freshman Shawn Tolleson (2-1, 3.58 ERA) will go on Saturday. Sophomore Willie Kempf has the best numbers among Baylor’s starting rotation with a 4-1 record and a 3.41 ERA, and will start Sunday. Senior closer Nick Cassavechia gave up four runs in a no-decision Wednesday, but still leads the team with five saves.

Head coach Steve Smith is in his 14th season at Baylor and has an overall record of 506-322 with the Bears. Smith led the team to an NCAA Tournament appearance and a 35-27 record last season.

Last Time Out

Senior Ryne Price went 3-for-4, while senior Matt Berner had two hits and three RBIs as the Jayhawks snapped a four-game losing streak with a 13-0 triumph over Saint Mary Wednesday evening at Hoglund Ballpark.

Noting the Jayhawks

– Kansas will be looking for its first Big 12 series victory of the season this weekend when it travels to Baylor. The Jayhawks’ last conference series victory came at No. 28 Oklahoma on April 27-29 of last year.

– 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.

– During the week in Florida (March 19-23), KU rallied for two victories (vs. Dartmouth and Northwestern), when trailing by five runs.

– KU pitchers picked off four base runners in the three midweek games during the week of March 25, 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 March 29 against Texas A&M, marking the team’s third extra innings defeat of the season. The Jayhawks are 1-3 in extra inning affairs with its lone win coming on March 8 against North Dakota State (4-3, 10 innings).

– Junior catcher Buck Afenir homered in the first inning of the March 29 game against Texas A&M. Afenir has three round-trippers in his last 10 games.

– Senior John Allman snapped a season-high nine-game hitting streak on Tuesday, but has still hit safely in 20 of his last 23 games. During that span, Allman is batting .449 with two homers, 25 RBIs and a .562 on-base percentage.

– Utility infielder Matt Berner played a starring role in KU’s 13-0 triumph Wednesday against Saint Mary. Berner collected two hits and drove in three runs in the game, matching his career high for hits in a game.

– Senior Justin Ellrich singled to right field in the sixth inning Wednesday against Saint Mary and has now hit safely in his last four games. Included in that stretch is the senior’s first career triple, March 26 vs. Benedictine.

– Junior Nick Faunce is one of four Jayhawks to have a four-hit game this season. Faunce went 4-for-5 with three runs scored on March 2 against Iowa.

– Freshman Brian Heere collected an RBI single Wednesday against Saint Mary. In a limited role, Heere has gone 3-for his last-7.

– Freshman Greg Herbst made an appearance Wednesday against Saint Mary. The freshman infielder has played in six games this season, all in a reserve role.

– Junior Preston Land was dropped to No. 7 in the batting order and has responded with a hot bat in the last nine games. From the No. 7 spot in the order, Land has hit .321 with five doubles and seven RBIs.

– Senior Casey Larson has been one of KU’s better clutch players this season. Larson is batting .286 with men on base and .294 with two outs.

– Freshman Casey Lytle collected a single Wednesday evening against Saint Mary. It was the outfielder’s first hit since March 8 against North Dakota State.

– Senior Erik Morrison doubled in a run in the fifth inning Wednesday against Saint Mary. The Kansas shortstop has hit safely in five of his last six games, including two hits Sunday against Texas A&M.

– Freshman Phil Parrish made an appearance Wednesday evening against Saint Mary. The freshman outfielder has played in 10 games this season and is one of 10 Jayhawks with a triple.

– Sophomore Robby Price collected his first career triple Wednesday against Saint Mary. Price has swung a hot bat recently, batting .353 over KU’s last nine games.

– Senior Ryne Price recorded his second three-hit game of the season Wednesday against Saint Mary. Price leads the Jayhawks with 12 multiple- hit games this season and is tops in the Big 12 with 39 RBIs.

– Senior Joe Southers has been a tough out in clutch situations this year. Southers is batting .361 (13-for-36) with men on base and is 6-for-15 (.400) with runners in scoring position.

– Freshman Tony Thompson collected one of five Jayhawk hits against No. 8 Wichita State on Tuesday. Over his last five games, Thompson is 7-for-18 (.389) with six runs scored and a .450 on-base percentage.

– Freshman Zach Thoma collected his third hit of the season on Wednesday against Saint Mary. He is 3-for-6 in six games this season.

– Sophomore Brett Bollman pitched an inning of relief against Wichita State on Tuesday, and after allowing a run, worked out of a bases loaded jam.

– Freshman Brett Bochy retired Saint Mary in order in the fourth on Wednesday. However, it was the first time in nine appearances this season that the righty did not record a strikeout. Bochy has 12 k’s in 12 innings of work this year.

– Junior Nick Czyz will start Friday evening against Baylor. Czyz has pitched fairly well in his two conference starts this season, allowing 11 hits in 10 2/3 innings with eight strikeouts and a 4.22 ERA.

– Sophomore Max Ellenbecker pitched a scoreless eighth inning Wednesday against Saint Mary. In eight career appearances, Ellenbecker has yet to allow a run and has only surrendered five hits.

– Senior Andres Esquibel will make his first Big 12 start of his career Saturday against Baylor. Esquibel has been one of the toughest pitchers to hit in the league this year, allowing a .215 batting average, including a .234 average against Big 12 opponents.

– Senior Hiarali Garcia was one of seven Jayhawk pitchers to combine on a shutout Wednesday against Saint Mary. The 6-foot righty seems to prefer coming out of the bullpen as his ERA as a relief pitcher is 3.00 compared to a 4.22 ERA as a starter.

– Sophomore Shaeffer Hall made his seventh start of the season Tuesday against No. 8 Wichita State, which is tied for tops in the Big 12. Hall has 32 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings this year to lead the team.

– Senior Matt Lane pitched a scoreless inning of relief Wednesday against Saint Mary. After a rough outing against North Dakota State, Lane has held the opposition scoreless over his last three appearances, which includes his first collegiate victory on March 20 against Central Connecticut State.

– Junior Daniel Manos also tossed a scoreless inning of relief Wednesday against Saint Mary. Outside of a rough ninth inning against Chicago State, Manos has allowed just three unearned runs in his other four appearances this year.

– Sophomore Wally Marciel bounced back from three tough outings on Wednesday against Saint Mary. The second-year lefty tossed three hitless innings and struck out five of the 11 batters he faced. Until two weeks ago, Marciel had been one of KU’s top pitchers, posting a 2-1 record and a 2.55 ERA in his first three starts of the season.

– 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 March 30 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.

The Price is Right

While older brother Ryne has made the most noise – leading the Big 12 in RBIs – younger brother Robby Price has quietly been one of KU’s most consistent hitters over the last two weeks. Since going 0-for-4 on March 8 against North Dakota State, Robby has hit safely in 17 of his last 21 games, including nine multiple-hit contests.

In that timeframe, Price is batting .333 with a .391 on-base percentage. He has not gone hitless in back-to-back games since early March.

The Kansas second baseman continues to lead the nation in sacrifice bunts, now with 19 after a first inning sacrifice against Wichita State Tuesday.

Ramblin’ Man

Senior John Allman went 0-for-4 Tuesday against No. 8 Wichita State, which marked just the fourth time this season that the Kansas left fielder has failed to reach base. Since the beginning of March, Allman has hit safely in 21 of 25 games and has found a way on base in all but two of those contests.

The Kansas senior was especially tough on Aggie pitching last weekend, going 5-for-9 with a double, four runs scored and four RBIs. But he also drew a pair of walks and was hit by pitch four times. During the recent homestand, Allman’s on-base percentage was .600.

Double Trouble

Kansas first baseman Preston Land leads the Big 12 with 13 doubles this season. Prior to this season, Land had just 21 two-base hits in 108 games.

Known more as a pure power hitter early in his KU career, Land has shown that he is a more complete hitter this season.

Over his last 20 games, Land is batting .290 with eight doubles and a triple. He is also showing an ability get on base, posting a .468 on-base percentage during that time frame.

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 Darby Brown.

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. He currently leads the Big 12 with 39 RBIs this season.

Up Next

After the three-game series at Baylor, the Jayhawks return to Hoglund Ballpark for a seven-game homestand, which starts with a two-game set against Northern Colorado next Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday’s game against the Bears is scheduled for a 6 p.m. start and is 25-cent hot dog night. The Tuesday game will also be broadcast on KLWN (1320 AM) with Brian Hanni and Tom Hedrick on the call. Wednesday’s game is scheduled for a 3 p.m. start.

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.