Jayhawks Face No. 6 Texas at Hoglund Ballpark
April 5, 2007
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Kansas plays host to No. 6 Texas in a three-game series at Hoglund Ballpark beginning Thursday afternoon at 3 p.m. Friday’s game is scheduled for 3 p.m., while Saturday’s finale will be at 1 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. <?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>
Scouting the Longhorns
Sixth-ranked Texas enters the three-game series at Hoglund Ballpark having won two-of-three from No. 17 Oklahoma in Austin. Since starting the season at 9-6, the Longhorns are 17-3 in their last 20 contests. UT’s visit to Lawrence will be the team’s first trip outside the state of Texas since traveling to Long Beach State on Feb. 11.
Sophomore infielder Bradley Suttle is the team’s top hitter with a .424 batting average, 56 hits and a .503 on-base percentage. Sophomore outfielder Kyle Russell leads the nation with 18 home runs and has a team-high .915 slugging percentage.
Junior righty Adrian Alanez is the team’s No. 1 starter with an 8-1 record and a 1.75 ERA in eight starts this season. He has walked 12 and struck out 50 in 56.2 innings. Out of the bullpen, senior righty Randy Boone has made 20 appearances and has posted eight saves and a 3.89 ERA.
Head coach Augie Garrido is in his 11th season at Texas and has a 458-223-1 record with the Longhorns. His overall record is 1609-747-8 (.682), which ranks as the most wins among active Division I coaches. Garrido’s team returns 20 letterwinners and eight position starters from last year’s team which won the Big 12 regular season championship.
Texas leads the all-time series with KU 29-9, however, the Jayhawks took two-of-three from the Longhorns in the last three-game set in Lawrence.
Last Time Out
Junior Casey Larson went 2-for-3 with his first home run as a Jayhawk, while freshman Wally Marciel pitched five scoreless innings as KU defeated Kansas Wesleyan, 11-4.
Larson was one of four Jayhawks with two hits in the game, while Marciel scattered four hits over five innings, struck out four and walked none for his first win since March 4.
Get Your Radio On
The Jayhawks’ series with No. 6 Texas will be broadcast on KLWN (1320-AM) in Lawrence as well as by KJHK (90.7-FM).
Veteran play-by-play man Tom Hedrick will handle to play-by-play duties for KLWN’s telecast, which will be available on the internet only for Thursday and Friday’s games, he will be joined by former Jayhawk shortstop Ritchie Price. Student radio, KJHK, will broadcast all three games of the Texas series.
Freshman Wally Marciel earned his third victory of the season by scattering four hits over five innings to defeat Kansas Wesleyan on Wednesday.
The 6-foot-2 lefty did not walk anybody and struck out four. In his last four outings, Marciel has allowed just two runs on eight hits over 9 1/3 innings, dropping his ERA from 7.12 to 5.34. Most importantly, in those four outings, the freshman has walked just two and struck out seven.
The Price is Right
Junior second baseman Ryne Price hit three home runs against Missouri over the weekend, including ninth-inning round-trippers on Friday and Sunday. Price’s 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-homer 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. Afenir, who started his ninth consecutive game behind the plate, collected two hits against Kansas State on Tuesday for his third multi-hit game since the beginning of the Missouri series.
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.
With KU’s triumph on Wednesday, head coach Ritch Price moved to within four 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
– Despite playing 13 games against ranked opponents this season, No. 6 Texas will be the highest ranked team on KU’s schedule to this point. The Longhorns are also the highest ranked squad to visit Hoglund Ballpark since May of 2005.
– 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 went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs against Kansas State on Tuesday. In his last four games, Afenir is 6-for-16 (.375) with two home runs and five RBIs.
– 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 has picked up the pace again in the month of April. In KU’s three April games, Price is 4-for-10 with three runs scored and four RBIs. The freshman third baseman kicked the month off with a two-hit game at Missouri on Sunday.
– Senior Kyle Murphy leads the team with 13 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 transfer Casey Larson went 2-for-3 with his first home run of the season against Kansas Wesleyan on Wednesday. Larson became the 10th different Jayhawk to homer this year.
– Senior Dylan Parzyk went 2-for-4 against Kansas Wesleyan on Wednesday for his third multi-hit game of the season.
– Junior righty Hiarali Garcia made a prolonged appearance Tuesday against Kansas State. The 5-foot-10 righty pitched a season-high 4 2/3 innings, allowing just four hits and two runs, while striking out four.
– Lawrence native Max Ellenbecker pitched a pair of scoreless innings to finish KU’s 11-4 victory over Kansas Wesleyan. In three appearances this season, Ellenbecker has yet to give up a run.
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.
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.
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.
The Jayhawks will play host to Oral Roberts in a non-conference game next Tuesday at Hoglund Ballpark. Game time is set for 5 p.m. The Golden Eagles downed KU, 9-1, in the schools’ last meeting on Feb. 27.