Jayhawks Travel to No. 6 Texas This Weekend

April 8, 2010


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Kansas vs. Texas

After another ninth-inning win over Creighton Wednesday, the Kansas Jayhawks will return to conference play when they travel to Austin for a three-game series against sixth-ranked Texas this weekend. KU will meet the Longhorns at 6:05 p.m. Friday, 2 p.m. on Saturday and at 1 p.m. Sunday at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.

All three games from the Texas series will be broadcast on KLWN (1320 AM). Fans can also tune in via the internet at www.klwn.com.

Series with Texas

Friday’s game will mark the 49th all-time meeting between Kansas and Texas on the baseball diamond. The Longhorns lead the series 34-14, however, KU has claimed four of the past five meetings, including a three-game sweep in Lawrence last season. Texas is 18-6 against the Jayhawks in Austin.

About the Jayhawks

Kansas earned another one-run win Wednesday, 5-4 at Creighton. The Jayhawks have won five one-run games in the last three weeks. Since a four-game losing streak in the middle of March, the Jayhawks are 8-2-1 in their last 11 games.

The Jayhawk offense ranks sixth in the Big 12 with a .306 batting average. KU is averaging 7.5 runs per game. Junior outfielder Brian Heere ranks seventh in the Big 12 with a .395 batting average and a .471 on-base percentage.

On the mound, KU has posted a 4.77 ERA, which ranks seventh in the Big 12. Junior right-handed pitcher T.J. Walz leads the team with five victories and 43 strikeouts.

Scouting the Longhorns

Last season’s national runner up, Texas, opened this year as the consensus No. 1, but dropped two of its first three. However, since then, UT has won 22 of 27 games, including five-straight heading into this weekend. The Longhorns swept then-No. 17 Oklahoma last weekend in Norman, allowing just three runs in the series.

UT’s offense ranks 10th in the Big 12 with a .279 team batting average. The Longhorns are scoring 6.2 runs per game. Freshman outfielder Cohl Walla leads the team with a .363 batting average with seven stolen bases, while junior catcher Cameron Rupp is hitting .288 with a team-best 25 RBIs and four home runs.

Kansas will face the three-headed tandem of Taylor Jungmann (3-1, 2.94 ERA), Cole Green (6-0, 2.64) and Brandon Workman (5-1, 3.09) this weekend. The Texas three-some has struck out 142 batters this season, and walked just 36 in 140 innings. UT’s team ERA of 2.55 ranks second nationally to only UCLA. The Longhorns are holding opponents to a .225 batting average this season.

Texas was picked to win the Big 12 title unanimously in the preseason coaches poll, garnering all nine first-place votes.

Last Time Out

Junior third baseman Tony Thompson went 2-for-3 with an RBI double in the ninth inning which broke a four-all tie and lifted Kansas past Creighton, 5-4, Wednesday night at Rosenblatt Stadium.

We’re Going Streaking

Senior second baseman Robby Price went 2-for-5 Wednesday night to extend his hitting streak to 14 consecutive games, dating back to a March 17 game at Tulane. During his hitting streak, Price has batted .455 with nine doubles, two triples, two homers, 22 runs scored and 20 RBIs.

Price’s 14-game streak is the longest by a Jayhawk this season, and the lengthiest since Tony Thompson’s 20-game hitting streak at the end of last season.

During his streak, Price has bolted into contention for the Big 12 lead in doubles with 13 this season – just three shy of league leader Scott LeJune (Texas Tech). Price’s 13 two-base hits this season are a career high.

Waters Runs Deep

Junior outfielder Jimmy Waters has been locked in, going 9-for-18 with four doubles, a triple and nine RBIs in KU’s past four games. Waters returned to his birthplace – Omaha, Neb. – Wednesday night and delivered a two-run triple to extend KU’s lead to 4-1.

The junior has dominated Big 12 pitching this season, ranking near the top of the league in conference-only stats. Waters is fifth in the conference in batting average (.517), tied for first in hits (15), tied for second in doubles (five), fifth in RBIs (12), fifth in on-base percentage (.576) and fifth in slugging percentage (.793) in Big 12 games.

Giant Killer

Junior starting pitcher T.J. Walz will be looking for his first victory against Texas this weekend. Walz has been at his best against the very best in college baseball, earning eight career wins against Top 25 opponents.

In his career, Walz has won at No. 1 LSU (2010), No. 9 Oklahoma (2009), No. 4 Arizona State (2009) and No. 9 Nebraska (2008). He will be making his first career appearance at Disch-Falk Field on Friday.

Walz’ 17 career victories rank him 10th in Kansas history, and just nine behind team-record holder Jim Phillips’ 26 career wins.

Cardiac Kids

Kansas has had a flair for the dramatic in recent weeks, winning five games by a single run, including three games where the Jayhawks had to rally from a multi-run deficit. KU trailed by two runs in the fifth inning against Creighton (March 23), four runs in the fifth at Baylor (March 26), two runs in the sixth at Baylor (March 28) and by four runs in the seventh inning on March 30 against Arkansas-Little Rock.

KU also rallied twice to stave off defeat in the 8-8 tie with No. 22 Texas A&M on April 2. In the ninth, Robby Price delivered the clutch base hit to knot the game at seven, while junior Brian Heere had the game-tying hit in the bottom of the 11th.

Wednesday’s win saw the Jayhawks push a run across in the ninth against Creighton closer Jack VanLeur with three consecutive hits.

Price Honored by Big 12 Again

For the second straight week, Kansas senior second baseman Robby Price was named the Big 12 Player of the Week on April 5. This marks the first time in Jayhawk history that a player has been named conference player of the week in consecutive weeks.

Price, a senior from Lawrence, Kan., hit .550 in five games last week, helping Kansas go 3-1-1. He extended his season-best hitting streak to 13 games with multiple-hit games in four of KU’s five contests. The senior collected five doubles and one homer with eight runs scored and eight RBIs.

Around the Horn

– Kansas travels to No. 6 Texas this weekend for a three-game series. KU has gone 17-17-1 against Top 25 foes over the last two seasons, including 6-11 against ranked foes away from Hoglund Ballpark.

– The Jayhawks will be looking for their first series win in Austin since 1996, which was the last time KU and Texas met as non-conference opponents.

– Kansas played to an 8-8 tie with No. 22 Texas A&M on April 3. KU rallied to tie the score twice in the final three innings. The game was declared a tie because Texas A&M had a 5 p.m. flight to catch out of Kansas City, and the teams had passed the agreed-upon 2:15 p.m. cutoff time for starting a new inning. Officially the series went down as a 1-1-1 split.

– The Jayhawks earned their first-ever series victory at Baylor March 26-28, taking two of three in Waco. Prior to the win on March 26, KU was 1-20 all-time against the Bears in Waco.

– The March 28 win over Baylor was a classic. The teams played 14 innings, which is the longest Big 12 game in KU history. The Jayhawk bullpen held the Bears without a base hit over the final 11 innings, and did not allow a baserunner after the bottom of the eighth.

– KU took two in a three-game series against then-No. 1 LSU March 12-14, marking the second-straight year the Jayhawks have defeated a top-ranked team. In 2009, KU swept a three-game series from then-No. 1 Texas.

– KU has done a great job of limiting its strikeouts this season. Through 30 games, KU has struck out a total of 171 times (5.7 per game). In the same time period, the Jayhawks have scored 224 runs, giving them a plus-53 in its runs/strikeouts ratio. Last year, KU was just plus-one in the same ratio.

– The Jayhawks have done a good job of knocking starting pitchers out of the game early. In the last 14 games, opposing starting pitchers have averaged just under four innings per game with nobody recording a quality start against KU since the March 16 game against Tulane. This season, opposing starting pitchers have compiled an ERA of 8.23 against KU.

– The Jayhawks lead the Big 12 in walks (148) and rank in the top 20 nationally in that category. As a team, KU has a .410 on-base percentage, which is over 100 points higher than the team’s batting average.

– Kansas has collected 75 doubles already this season, which ranks third among Big 12 teams. Only Texas Tech (86) and Oklahoma State (75) have collected more two-base hits than the Jayhawks.

– Sophomore Jason Brunansky doubled in his first at bat Wednesday at Rosenblatt Stadium. Brunansky has dominated left-handed pitching this season, going 7-for-12 against southpaws.

– Freshman Jordan Dreiling subbed for Tony Thompson in the March 28 game at Baylor, and collected three hits in Thompson’s place in the lineup, including a two-run single to break the game open in the top of the 14th inning.

– Sophomore Zac Elgie collected a pinch hit single to start the bottom of the 11th in the Saturday tie with Texas A&M. Elgie has hit safely in five of his last seven games, including a two-hit game against Missouri State on March 31.

– Center fielder Brian Heere is among the Big 12 leaders in RBIs (31) with good reason. Heere is batting .415 (27-for-65) with men on base, including a .524 average (22-for-42) with men in scoring position.

– Senior first baseman Brett Lisher will look to get back on track this weekend at Texas. Lisher hit .319 during the month of March, but is off to a slow start in April.

– Right fielder Casey Lytle tied a school record March 28, being hit by pitch three times in the game against Baylor. Lytle is the fifth Jayhawk player to wear three pitches in the same game. He has been hit 14 times already this season, which ranks eighth nationally.

– Junior shortstop Brandon Macias collected doubles in back-to-back games with Texas A&M last weekend. Since a 2-for-4 effort at LSU on March 13, Macias has raised his batting average by 50 points.

– Kansas catcher Chris Manship has been extremely successful in the clutch. The sophomore catcher is batting .436 (17-for-36) with men on base, including .444 with men in scoring position.

– Kansas redshirt freshman Jake Marasco has had a knack for collecting two-base hits this season. Of his 17 hits this season, eight of them have been doubles, including a fifth-inning double against Creighton Wednesday.

– Senior second baseman Robby Price leads the team in two-strike base hits with 15 this season. Price collected two more hits Wednesday at Creighton – both doubles – with two strikes against him.

– Junior third baseman Tony Thompson hopes that returning to the road will get him going. Thompson has gone 8-for-13 in his four road starts this season with his only home run coming at Baylor on March 26. Last season, Thompson hit .420 with 12 homers away from Hoglund Ballpark.

– Junior left fielder Jimmy Waters returned to his hometown Wednesday night and delivered a two-run triple in the top of the seventh. Waters has the top OPS (on-base plus slugging) on the team this season, collecting a .500 on-base percentage and a .618 slugging percentage for an OPS of 1.118.

– Senior relief pitcher Travis Blankenship deserved to fare better Wednesday. The lefty allowed three unearned runs in the seventh inning – which were caused by three Kansas errors. Blankenship matched a season-high with three strikeouts in his outing.

– Junior relief pitcher Matt Kohorst earned wins in back-to-back relief appearances last week. The junior righty is holding opposing hitters to a .115 batting average this year, including just one hit (1-for-10) with men on base.

– Junior left-handed pitcher Wally Marciel looked sharp in Wednesday’s game at Creighton. The third-year southpaw allowed just one walk and one run in 2 1/3 innings on the mound.

– Sophomore Colton Murray earned his second save of the season Wednesday night, pitching a scoreless ninth inning and protecting KU’s one-run lead. Murray has allowed just one earned run in his last six appearances.

– Freshman Tanner Poppe got KU out of a seventh-inning jam and pitched a perfect eighth to record his second victory of the season Wednesday night at Creighton. Poppe has been one of KU’s best pitchers late in games this season, with seven scoreless appearances to his credit.

– Senior Cameron Selik struck out a career-high eight Aggies in his April 2 outing against No. 22 Texas A&M.

– Junior T.J. Walz bounced back from a pair of rough outings, earning his fifth victory of the season April 1 against No. 22 Texas A&M. In conference play in his career, Walz is 10-2 with 96 strikeouts in 107 innings.

Up Next

Following the three-game series at Texas, Kansas will travel to Missouri State for another midweek non-conference game on Tuesday, April 13. First pitch at Hammonds Field in Springfield, Mo., is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.