Jayhawks Travel to Iowa For Midweek Series

April 6, 2009

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Kansas vs. Iowa

The Kansas baseball team hits the road for a brief midweek series with Iowa at Duane Banks Field. The Jayhawks and Hawkeyes will meet at 4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday.

Audio from both games will be available via audio webcast on kuathletics.com. Tom Hedrick will call the action from Duane Banks Field.

Series History

The schools have split 12 previous meetings, 6-6, with Kansas winning last year’s game, 9-5 as part of the Music City Classic in Nashville, Tenn. Last season’s game was the first between the teams since 1995. This week’s games will be the first recorded meetings between KU and Iowa in Iowa City.

About the Jayhawks

Kansas earned one win in a three-game series with No. 7 Baylor over the weekend. The win was KU’s sixth over a ranked team this season, and fifth over a team ranked in the Top 10.

The Jayhawks’ offense is led by Buck Afenir’s .386 batting average, and Tony Thompson’s .696 slugging percentage and eight home runs. As a team, KU is batting .291 with 64 doubles, nine triples and 17 home runs.

On the mound, KU is paced by Shaeffer Hall’s 2.82 ERA, while four different Jayhawks have three victories to their credit. Opponents are batting .246 against KU this season, while the team has an ERA of 3.96, which ranks third in the Big 12.

Scouting the Hawkeyes

Iowa enters the midweek series with KU at 11-15, after losing two of three in its conference series at Purdue this past weekend. The Hawkeyes are 4-3 at home this year, including 3-1 against non-conference opponents at Duane Banks Field.

Senior infielder Justin Toole and freshman Chad Zeise are tied for the team lead with batting averages of .358. Six different Hawkeyes are hitting above .300 this season. Senior Wes Freie is Iowa’s top power source with 10 doubles, six homers and 26 RBIs.

KU will face freshman Phil Schrieber and junior Zach Robertson. Schrieber, a freshman right-hander, is 1-0 this year in two starts with a 3.38 ERA. He has allowed 18 hits and two walks in 16 innings. Robertson is 2-1 despite a high ERA. He has made three starts and allowed 26 hits and eight walks in 13 1/3 innings.

Iowa returns 22 lettermen and five position starters from last year’s team, which went 22-33 and placed 10th in the Big Ten Conference.

Last Time Out

Sophomores Tony Thompson and Casey Lytle each had three hits Sunday, but it wasn’t nearly enough to stop No. 7 Baylor. The Bears hit a school record eight home runs and scored 10 runs over the final three innings to trounce Kansas, 21-9, in a Big 12 baseball game Sunday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark.

Wonder Walz

Sophomore T.J. Walz was named the Big 12 Pitcher of the Week on Monday, after tossing a complete game shutout against No. 7 Baylor on Saturday. Walz becomes the second Kansas pitcher to receive the distinction this year.

Walz allowed no runs on three hits with one walk and six strikeouts in nine innings, marking the second complete game shutout by a Jayhawk this year. Walz’ shutout was also just the fifth by a Big 12 pitcher this season, and second against a conference opponent.

Walz has seven wins in his Kansas career, with three of them coming against Top 10 opponents (2008 vs. then-No. 9 Nebraska, 2009 vs. No. 4 Arizona State and 2009 vs. No. 7 Baylor).

Tony, Tony, Tony

After struggling against Big 12 pitching in the first two series of the year, sophomore Tony Thompson found his stroke this weekend against No. 7 Baylor. Thompson went 6-for-14 in the series with the Bears, collecting a double, two homers and seven RBIs.

Thompson leads the Jayhawks in several statistical categories, and midway through the season is on pace to reach the school’s top 10 in hits, doubles, home runs, RBIs, slugging percentage and total bases.

Thompson has been the team’s most consistent producers this season. He has at least one hit in 24 of 28 games and at least one RBI in 16 of 28 games.

We’re Going Streaking, Again

Should he play, junior shortstop David Narodowski will look to extend a 12-game hitting streak against Iowa this week. Narodowski, who missed two games in the Baylor series, has hit safely in his last 12 games, and has gone hitless just twice since the beginning of March.

His hitting streak is the second of 12-plus games by a Jayhawk this season, joining Tony Thompson, who hit safely in the first 14 games of the season. During the streak, Narodowski is batting .429 with three doubles, a triple and 11 runs scored.

Eight baseball players in the Big 12 have hitting streaks of 12 games or longer this season.

In the Nick of Time

Kansas senior Nick Faunce hit a game-ending home run March 31 to complete a stirring comeback in an 8-6 win over Northern Colorado. Faunce’s walk-off homer was the first by a Kansas player since Ryne Price clinched a win over Baylor with a home run April 15, 2007.

Faunce actually started KU’s rally with a double in the eighth inning. His hit snapped the senior out of an 0-for-12 slump. Faunce has been a tremendous hitter in the clutch this season, batting .366 with men on base and .367 with two outs.

Around the Horn

– The Jayhawks look to get back on track against Iowa this week, before hosting No. 20 Oklahoma State this weekend.

– The Jayhawks will also look to break out of a funk in road games. KU is 1-8 in true road games this season and 3-10 in games away from Hoglund Ballpark. However, 7-of-10 losses have come by just one run.

– Kansas rallied from three runs down in the eighth and two behind in the ninth March 31 against Northern Colorado. The Jayhawks have come back from multiple run deficits in the last three innings of a game six times this season.

– Kansas collected five doubles in the April 1 win over Northern Colorado, marking the third time this season that that Jayhawks have had at least five two-base hits.

– KU has been impressive at home in Ritch Price’s tenure. Since the beginning of the 2008 season, the Jayhawks are 33-9 at Hoglund Ballpark, including 15-2 this season.

– Kansas swept then-No. 1 Texas March 20-22, which was the Jayhawks’ first-ever sweep of the Longhorns and first sweep of a No. 1 ranked team. The win over UT on March 20 was KU’s first over a top-ranked team since 1993.

– With the win March 3 against UND, Kansas extended its winning streak in home openers to 10 straight years, including all seven under head coach Ritch Price.

Senior catcher Buck Afenir continued to dominate Baylor pitching this past weekend. The Kansas catcher went 7-for-13 with four RBIs in the three game series with Baylor. In his career, Afenir is batting .382 against the Bears, including .500 (11-for-22) the past two seasons.

– Sophomore transfer Joe Lincoln had a couple of hits in the mid-week series with Western Illinois March 24-25. Lincoln had been sidelined with an injury since the March 10 game against Missouri Valley.

– Catcher Chris Manship collected his first collegiate hit as a pinch hitter in Sunday’s loss to Baylor. Manship is the 16th Jayhawk to collect a base hit this season.

– Senior first baseman Preston Land had a forgettable series against No. 7 Baylor, but continues to swing a good bat against the Big 12. Land is batting .290 in conference play with three doubles.

– Freshman Zac Elgie collected a pinch hit single in Sunday’s loss to Baylor. This season, Elgie has hit .333 as a pinch hitter this year.

– Junior second baseman Robby Price collected another sacrifice in the Baylor series to take over the team and Big 12 lead with eight. Price is the career leader in sacrifices at KU with 46.

– Freshman infielder James Stanfield made a pair of starts in place of an injured David Narodowski this weekend, and hit safely in both games. In a reserve role, Stanfield is batting .278 this year with four RBIs.

– Junior shortstop David Narodowski has done a tremendous lead-off hitter for KU this season. He has started 28 games, and failed to reach base in just two of them.

– Sophomore Tony Thompson hit a pair of home runs against No. 7 Baylor to give him the team lead with eight. Thompson is chasing the single-season sophomore class record for homers, which is held by Erik Morrison. Morrison hit 14 in his second year at KU.

– Senior Nick Faunce went 2-for-3 with an RBI in KU’s 6-0 win over Baylor on Saturday. Faunce has been a clutch performer, batting .400 with men on base, and .344 with runners in scoring position.

– Freshman Jason Brunansky made his third spectacular catch in the last four weeks in Friday’s loss to No. 7 Baylor. Brunansky made a running grab in the gap to rob Dustin Dickerson of extra bases with a runner on second and nobody down. Baylor did not score in the inning.

– Sophomore Brian Heere tripled in Friday’s loss to Baylor, to take over the team lead with two. However, his lead was short-lived as Jason Brunansky collected a three-base hit Sunday. Seven different Jayhawks have a triple this year.

– Sophomore Casey Lytle collected singles in his first three at-bats of Sunday’s loss to Baylor. It was the sophomore’s second three-hit game of the season and seventh multi-hit game.

– Sophomore Jimmy Waters came off the bench in the March 31 game against Northern Colorado and singled in a run in the ninth inning. It was the sophomore’s second pinch hit of the season in seven tries.

– Junior transfer Brett Lisher went 1-for-2 in the April 1 game after entering as a defensive replacement in the fifth inning. Lisher is 4-for-11 in games at Hoglund Ballpark this year.

– Junior transfer Travis Blankenship pitched his 12th scoreless outing of the season in Friday’s game against Baylor. Blankenship is tied for the conference lead with 17 appearances and has allowed a .208 batting average.

– After a first-inning hiccup April 1, junior Brett Bollman pitched a solid six innings for his third victory of the season. The 5-foot-10 righty went six innings and scattered six hits, allowing one earned run and striking out seven. Bollman’s three wins match Travis Blankenship, T.J. Walz and Lee Ridenhour for the team lead.

– Freshman Kelson Boyer was the only Jayhawk pitcher to appear in Sunday’s game that did not give up a run. The first-year righty struck out Dustin Dickerson to end Baylor’s half of the ninth.

– Freshman Kevin Burk recorded a pair of strikeouts in the March 31 win over Northern Colorado. After a rough outing at Arizona State on March 13, Burk made four straight scoreless appearances out of the bullpen, allowing just four hits over 5 2/3 innings with six K’s.

– Junior Shaeffer Hall earned his second victory of the season March 20 against Texas, and first since his no-hitter on opening day. Hall has done an excellent job this season of finishing innings. Teams are batting .104 (5-for-48) against the lefty with two outs.

– Freshman Colton Murray surrendered three hits Sunday to break a string of seven straight relief appearances without allowing a run.

– Junior Thomas Marcin pitched out of trouble in the ninth inning April 1 against Northern Colorado. He has not been hit hard this year, with opponents batting just .222 against him.

– Sophomore T.J. Walz pitched the second complete game shutout by a Jayhawk this season. Walz allowed three hits over nine innings to No. 7 Baylor on Saturday. This marks the first time since 2001 that the Jayhawks have recorded multiple complete game shutouts.

KU-Creighton Game to be Televised

CBS College Sports – a national cable network – announced that it will televise the Kansas-Creighton game on Tuesday, April 14 live from Rosenblatt Stadium. This marks the second KU baseball game that will be picked up by a national cable station.

It also marks the second time in as many seasons that a Kansas game was picked up by CBS College Sports (Channel 143 on Sunflower Broadband; Channel 235 in HD). Last season, KU upset then-No. 9 Nebraska on April 20 in a game shown on the cable network devoted to college athletics.

All Good Things Must End

Sophomore Tony Thompson went 0-for-3 in the March 17 game at San Diego State, snapping a streak of 23 consecutive games with at least one base hit. Thompson’s hitting streak was the second-longest in Kansas baseball history, ranking just one behind Jared Schweitzer, who hit safely in 24 consecutive games in 2005.

Up Next

The Jayhawks will take on No. 17 Oklahoma State in a three-game series at Hoglund Ballpark beginning Friday, April 10. The three-game set will be KU’s fifth straight weekend series against a Top 25 opponent. Games are schedule for 6 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.