Kansas Opens Busy Week with Missouri State Tuesday

April 4, 2011

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Missouri State (16-10) at Kansas (12-15)

Tuesday, April 5 – 6 p.m.

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


– Live Video

Radio Broadcast

– Gametracker

Missouri (13-14) vs. Kansas (12-15)

Wednesday, April 6 – 5:30 p.m.

Kauffman Stadium (37,903) – Kansas City, Mo.


Radio Broadcast

– Gametracker

After taking two-of-three from No. 19 Baylor over the weekend, the Kansas baseball team will open a busy week with games against Missouri State Tuesday and Missouri on Wednesday. The Jayhawks will take on Missouri State for the second time in less than a week Tuesday at 6 p.m., before facing Border Showdown rival Missouri at Kauffman Stadium Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.

Both games will be carried on KLWN Radio (1320 AM). Fans outside of the Lawrence area can listen to the games on the internet at www.klwn.com. Tuesday’s game will also feature live video via kuathletics.com.

Series History

Kansas leads the all-time series with Missouri State, 23-21, which dates back to 1988. MSU took the first game of the season between the schools, 6-0, on March 30. KU is 9-4 against the Bears under head coach Ritch Price.

Missouri leads the all-time series with KU, 195-128 with two ties. However, KU has won six of the last eight, including all four meetings in 2010. The Jayhawks have won all three meetings at Kauffman Stadium dating back to 2008.

About the Jayhawks

Kansas took two of three from No. 19 Baylor over the weekend, which snapped a four-game losing streak. The Jayhawks improved to 10-5 at home this season, compared to 1-8 on the road.

The Jayhawks are batting .243 as a team with seven home runs. KU is averaging 3.1 runs per game. Sophomore catcher James Stanfield leads the team with a .360 batting average with two doubles, two triples and a .480 slugging percentage. KU’s pitching staff has posted a 3.78 ERA, which ranks seventh in the Big 12. Senior lefty Wally Marciel has a team-best four wins with a 3.81 ERA.

Scouting the Bears

Missouri State continued to roll this weekend. After defeating Kansas on March 30, the Bears took two-of-three from Saint Louis University to improve to 15-10, including 8-2 over their last 10 games.

MSU’s offense continues to sizzle as the team leads the Missouri Valley Conference with a .319 batting average and is scoring 6.5 runs per game. Senior outfielder Aaron Conway leads the team with a .410 batting average and has 12 stolen bases in 15 attempts this season. Junior infielder Brett Seifert leads the Bears with five homers and 23 RBIs in 26 games and has a .568 slugging percentage this year.

Missouri State’s pitching has posted a 4.80 ERA and has held opponents to a .286 batting average. The Bears are scheduled to throw right-handed pitcher Pierce Johnson against the Jayhawks on Tuesday. Johnson is a 6-foot-3 righty out of Arvada, Colo., who has struggled this season. He is 2-2 with a 10.48 ERA in five starts, allowing 30 runs in 22 1/3 innings. MSU’s bullpen has been strong this year with closer Dan Kickham leading the way with a 1-1 record and five saves. Kickham has yet to allow an earned run in nine appearances.

Missouri State head coach Keith Guttin is in his 29th year at the school and has an overall record of 975-617. The Bears enter the week with a psuedo-RPI ranking of 91.

Scouting the Tigers

Missouri enters the midweek tilt with Kansas looking to get back on track after getting swept at No. 6 Texas over the weekend. Like the Jayhawks, the Tigers have been up and down this season. After a six-game winning streak in early March, Mizzou has gone 3-6 over its last nine.

Missouri is hitting .263 as a team with five homers and averages 5.0 runs per game. Senior outfielder Jonah Schmidt leads the Tigers with a .305 batting average with three homers and 18 RBIs in 28 games. Sophomore Brandon Champagne is also hitting right at .300 with a .431 on-base percentage this season.

The Tigers’ pitching staff has posted a 4.64 team ERA and is holding opponents to a .285 batting average. MU has not announced a starting pitcher for Wednesday’s game, however senior lefty Jeff Scardino started the Tigers’ last midweek contest and did not pitch in the Texas series. Scardino is 1-2 with a 5.47 ERA in four starts this season.

Missouri head coach Tim Jameson is in his 17th season with the school and has an overall record of 557-396-2. The Tigers’ psuedo-RPI ranking is 98 heading into the week.

Last Time Out

Cal Towey went 3-for-4 and hit one of four Baylor home runs Sunday as the Bears salvaged the final game of the three-game set from Kansas, 12-4, on a warm and windy day at Hoglund Ballpark.

Kansas-MSU Connections

– Kansas has just one player from the state of Missouri on its roster, freshman Jordan Brown, who is from Blue Springs.

Kansas-Missouri Connections

– Jayhawks Jordan Brown (Blue Springs, Mo.), Colton Murray (Overland Park, Kan.), Conner Murray (Overland Park, Kan.) and Thomas Taylor (Overland Park, Kan.) all grew up in the Kansas City area.

– The Tigers also feature players from the Kansas City area: Sal Belfonte (Kansas City, Mo.) and Jeff Lusardi (Blue Springs, Mo.).

– Kansas left-handed pitcher Tyler Smith and Missouri infielder C.J. Jarvis are both from the Houston area. Smith graduated from Tomball High School, while Jarvis attended Houston Christian High School.

– Kansas senior outfielder Casey Lytle, first baseman Chris Manship and Missouri left-handed pitcher Brian Carr all grew up in the Phoenix, Ariz. area.

– Kansas infielder Kevin Kuntz is the son of former major leaguer Rusty Kuntz, who currently works in the front office for the Kansas City Royals.

Waters Runs Deep

Senior outfielder Jimmy Waters continued his hot hitting in the Big 12 Conference over the weekend. Waters went 5-for-10 in the three-game set with Baylor, which included his first home run of the season in Friday’s game.

Since the start of conference play on March 18, Waters has picked things up offensively, batting .395 over KU’s last 11 contests, which includes two doubles, a triple, a homer and seven RBIs. He is tied for the 10th-best average in Big 12 games this season (.375), hitting safely in all but the first game of the Oklahoma State series. He has also reached base at a .447 clip against conference opponents.

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 five saves in six 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 three in 20 2/3 innings (1.31 per 9 IP).

Stanny the Man

KU catcher James Stanfield enjoyed one of his best weekends of the season, going 4-for-9 with a double and a triple to raise his batting average to .360 overall and .400 in Big 12 play. Stanfield’s key has been his ability to put the ball in play.

In 54 plate appearances this season, Stanfield has struck out just six times and has collected 18 base hits. He has been a tough man to retire with two strikes, going 7-for-15 (.467) when he faces a two-strike count.

Diamond Notes

– Kansas faces Missouri State six days after falling to the Bears in Springfield, Mo. KU has not been swept in a season series by MSU since 2002 and has won four in a row over the Bears at Hoglund Ballpark.

– The Jayhawks take on Border Showdown rival Missouri at Kauffman Stadium Wednesday. KU has gone 3-0 against the Tigers at the home of the Kansas City Royals and is 7-4 all-time in Major League stadiums.

– KU earned a series win over then-No. 19 Baylor over the weekend, giving the Jayhawks a 3-8 record against Top 25 opponents this season. KU’s 11 games against ranked teams is tied for the most in the Big 12.

– The grueling schedule has helped KU maintain a good RPI, despite a 12-15 record. Following action this weekend, the Jayhawks are ranked 60th in psuedo RPI according to BoydsWorld.com.

– KU has been tough to beat (or tie) at home this season. The Jayhawks are 10-5 at Hoglund Ballpark and 68-24-1 (.737) 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 .283 at home, compared to just .196 on the road. The pitching staff’s ERA is 3.38 in Lawrence and 5.05 in away games.

– In recent games, KU has been stellar with two outs. Over their last 10 games, the Jayhawks have collected 20 two-out RBIs and are batting .350 (41-for-117) 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 11-2 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 27 bases in 42 attempts this season. Kansas stole 29 bases in 35 attempts all of last year.

– Kansas senior T.J. Walz ranks in the top 10 in conference in several categories. Walz is sixth in innings pitched (46.2), third in strikeouts (52) and 10th in opponent batting average (.217).

– In Big 12 games only, Walz ranks fifth in innings pitched (22.1), first in strikeouts (27) and sixth in opponent batting average (.167).

– Other Jayhawks ranked in the Big 12’s categories include: Colton Murray, fourth in saves (5); Jimmy Waters, 10th in batting average in conference games (.375); Jake Marasco, sixth in walks in conference games (6); Frank Duncan, fourth in appearances in Big 12 games (5).

Baylor Series Leftovers

– Kansas earned a series win over Baylor for the second-straight season. Prior to 2010, KU had never won a three-game series from the Bears and had just six wins in 45 all-time meetings.

– The Jayhawks won back-to-back games over a ranked opponent for the first time since May, 2009 in taking the first two games of the three-game series.

– Kansas saw much production out of the No. 5, 6 and 7 spots in its batting order over the weekend. During the three games, James Stanfield, Brandon Macias, Zac Elgie and Alex DeLeon combined to hit .419 with 10 hits, six RBIs, seven runs scored and two home runs.

– KU hit three home runs in the series with Baylor, after hitting just four round-trippers in the 24 previous games of the season.

– Junior first baseman Zac Elgie collected his fifth multi-RBI contest of the season Sunday with a two-run double in the third inning. Elgie went 4-for-11 in the series with five RBIs.

– Starting pitcher T.J. Walz struck out a season-high 11 hitters in Friday night’s win. The 11 strikeouts were the most by a Jayhawk since Walz fanned 11 at Oklahoma State on April 30 of last year.

– KU earned the series win on the strength of a walk-off walk drawn by Brandon Macias Saturday. The walk-off win was the first of the season by the Jayhawks and the team’s fourth one-run victory this year.

– Left-handed pitcher Wally Marciel earned his fourth victory of the year, pitching in relief on Saturday. Marciel has 14 career victories in a Jayhawk uniform, which ranks near the top 10 on KU’s all-time list.

– Senior outfielder Casey Lytle snapped a 13-game hitting streak on Friday, but went 4-for-8 over the rest of the weekend. Lytle is batting .362 over the team’s last 15 games.

Up Next

Kansas will continue conference play this weekend when Nebraska visits Hoglund Ballpark for a three-game series, beginning on Friday, April 8. The opener is scheduled for 6 p.m., while the teams will also meet Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.