Kansas Hosts Northern Colorado in Mid-Week Series
April 7, 2008
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The Jayhawks will return home to battle Northern Colorado in a two-game non-conference series beginning Tuesday at 6 p.m. The second contest of the series will be Wednesday at 3 p.m. Tuesday’s contest will feature 25-cent hotdogs to all fans in attendance while supplies last.
KLWN-Radio (1320 AM) will broadcast the Tuesday evening game. Veteran play-by-play man Tom Hedrick will call the action from Hoglund Ballpark.
The Series vs. Northern Colorado
The Bears lead the all-time series with Kansas, 4-3, dating back to the 2005 season. KU took the initial three game set and hasn’t won a series with UNC since. The Bears and Jayhawks split a doubleheader last season with Eric Snowden’s seventh inning home run the difference in KU’s 5-4 win.
Scouting the Bears
Like the Jayhawks, Northern Colorado enters the mid-week series sputtering, having been swept at Dallas Baptist over the weekend. With a three-game series win at Texas A&M during the first weekend of the season, the Bears got off to a 5-3 start, but are 3-19 since March 2. As a team, Northern Colorado is batting just .246 and has a team ERA of 6.62.
Senior infielder Chad Murray is UNC’s top hitter with a .333 batting average, eight doubles and 21 RBIs. Corner infielder Kevin Sandberg has been the Bears’ top source for power with four homers and a team-high 22 RBIs.
Sophomore Joe Sawicki will start for Northern Colorado on Tuesday. Sawicki is 1-1 this year with a 6.19 ERA, claiming his lone victory against Florida International on March 23. Not only has Murray been the team’s top hitter, he has also made four appearances out of the bullpen and recorded two saves. He is one of four different UNC pitchers with a save this season.
Head coach Kevin Smallcomb is in his sixth season at Northern Colorado and has an overall mark of 130-165. Smallcomb’s team went 16-35 last season, but this season his team has recorded wins on the road at Texas A&M and at No. 3 Arizona State.
Last Time Out
Senior Erik Morrison hit a pair of home runs, while Ryne Price collected two hits and an RBI, but it was not enough. Baylor scored 11 runs in the first three innings en route to a 17-7 triumph over Kansas Sunday and a three-game series sweep of the Jayhawks at Baylor Ballpark.
Noting the Jayhawks
– Kansas will be looking for its first series win against Northern Colorado since 2005 this week. The Jayhawks and Bears have met in multiple-game series in each of the past four years.
– Northern Colorado Athletic Director Jay Hinrichs has special ties to both programs. Hinrichs was an Associate AD at Kansas when head coach Ritch Price was hired as the baseball coach and actually served on the committee that hired Price.
– KU would like to reverse a trend that plagued it in Baylor this weekend. The Jayhawks surrendered first inning runs in both the Saturday and Sunday losses to the Bears, and have given up first inning runs in six of nine Big 12 games. Getting off to a good start has been important to Kansas this year as the team is 14-6 when it scores first.
– 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 had three hits in Friday’s 4-3 loss at Baylor and went 4-for-9 with three runs scored in the series. Afenir has a .313 average against Big 12 opponents this season.
– Senior John Allman went hitless in a Big 12 series for the first time since his sophomore year this past weekend. However, coming home might be just what he needs to get back on track. Allman is hitting .564 at Hoglund Ballpark this season with a .684 on-base percentage. He is a career .430 hitter at home.
– Utility infielder Matt Berner played a starring role in KU’s 13-0 triumph April 2 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 became the first Jayhawk to collect a pinch hit homer this season with a seventh-inning round-tripper against Baylor Saturday. KU’s last pinch hit home run came on March 21, 2007, by Eric Snowden against Northern Colorado.
– Junior Nick Faunce hit safely in both starts against Baylor over the weekend. The Kansas center fielder has only gone hitless in six of his 28 starts this season, and has reached base in 25 of 28 starts.
– Freshman Brian Heere started things in a four-run inning Sunday at Baylor with a pinch hit single. Heere has hit safely in three of his last four games.
– Junior Preston Land moved into a three-way tie with Oklahoma’s Mike Gosse and Texas’ Jordan Danks for the Big 12 lead in doubles this season. Land’s 13 two-base hits are more than he had in either of his first two seasons at KU.
– Senior Casey Larson went 2-for-4 in Friday’s game at Baylor. Larson has made 20 starts for the Crimson and Blue this season, and has five games with multiple hits.
– Freshman Casey Lytle collected a single April 2 against Saint Mary. It was the outfielder’s first hit since March 8 against North Dakota State.
– Senior Erik Morrison homered twice Sunday against Baylor. It was the Kansas shortstop’s fourth career multi-home run game and first since May 26, 2006. His last multi-homer game came against Oklahoma State at the Big 12 Championship.
– Sophomore Robby Price collected another sacrifice in Friday’s game at Baylor and continues to lead the nation with 20 sacrfices. His 34 career sacrifice hits are just one shy of the KU record, held by Robby’s older brother, Ritchie Price.
– Senior Ryne Price recorded his sixth straight game with an RBI Sunday against Baylor. Price has driven in runs in 22 of KU’s last 30 games. He continues to lead the conference with 45 RBIs this season.
– Senior Joe Southers had a hit and a run scored in Saturday’s game at Baylor to move his average against conference opponents to .318 (7-for-22). The senior catcher has been pretty good in clutch situations, hitting .321 with men on base and .353 with runners in scoring position.
– Freshman Tony Thompson recorded the first three-hit game of his college career Saturday against Baylor. Thompson has hit .343 against the Big 12 this season and is batting .333 in his last 10 games.
– Freshman Zach Thoma collected his third hit of the season on April 2 against Saint Mary. He is 3-for-6 in six games this season.
– Sophomore Brett Bollman pitched a scoreless inning of relief in Friday’s game at Baylor. Bollman has eight scoreless appearances this season.
– Freshman Brett Bochy recorded a strike out in 2/3 of an inning Saturday at Baylor. Bochy has tallied at least one K in nine of his 10 appearances this year.
– Junior Nick Czyz held Baylor to one run on five hits over 4 1/3 innings Friday. Czyz’ ERA against Big 12 opponents this season is a team-best 3.60.
– Sophomore Max Ellenbecker pitched a scoreless eighth inning April 2 against Saint Mary. In eight career appearances, Ellenbecker has yet to allow a run and has only surrendered five hits.
– Senior Hiarali Garcia pitched a scoreless inning of relief Saturday at Baylor. The 5-foot-10 righty has allowed earned runs in just one of his relief appearances this season.
– Sophomore Shaeffer Hall made his seventh start of the season April 1 against No. 8 Wichita State, which is tied for tops in the Big 12. Hall has 33 strikeouts and just 10 walks this season.
– Junior Daniel Manos tossed a scoreless inning of relief April 2 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 by pitching three scoreless innings against Saint Mary on April 2. 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 was uncharacteristically wild in his outing at Baylor Friday. The 5-foot-11 reliever walked three in the ninth inning in a 4-3 loss. Prior to that frame, Smyth had walked just one batter all season and had not walked more than one in an appearance since May 5, 2007.
The Price is Right
Senior Ryne Price continued to terrorize Big 12 pitching last weekend at Baylor. Price hit two more home runs and drove in six runs in the three-game series. Price ranks second in the conference in home runs (nine) and is first in RBIs (45), while his .621 slugging percentage ranks him ninth.
Making his totals even more impressive is the fact that he is batting nearly 60 points higher than his career average coming into the season. He passed his single-season best for RBIs this weekend and is near his top totals in hits (43 this season/50 career high), doubles (10/12), homers (9/10) and total bases (82/99).
Kansas plays host to Texas Tech in a three-game series at Hoglund Ballpark beginning Friday, April 11. Friday’s game is set for 6 p.m., Saturday’s first pitch is at noon and Sunday’s finale is scheduled for a 1 p.m. start.