Jayhawks Look to Get Back on Track Against Texas Tech

April 10, 2008

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The Jayhawks will look to get back on track when they play host to Texas Tech in a three-game Big 12 series beginning Friday, April 11 at 4 p.m. Saturday’s game is scheduled for noon, while Sunday’s finale is slated for a 1 p.m. first pitch.

Saturday’s game will be televised live on Fox Sports Net (Channel 36 in Lawrence). Greg Lucas will call the action, while Jack Lazorko will serve as the color commentator.

Live video from Friday and Sunday’s games will be carried on kuathletics.com. Veteran announcers Tom Hedrick and Brian Hanni will call the action on the internet this weekend with portions of all three games on KLWN-Radio (1320-AM).

The Series vs. Texas Tech

The Red Raiders lead the all-time series with Kansas, 24-11, including a 10-5 mark in games played in Lawrence. Texas Tech took two of three from the Jayhawks in Lubbock last season, winning the games on April 20 (1-0) and April 21 (3-1), before falling 8-1 on April 22. KU took two of three from TTU in the last series in Lawrence in 2006.

Scouting the Red Raiders

Texas Tech enters the weekend series in Lawrence with a record of 17-16, having lost four of their last five. The Red Raiders were swept in Lincoln last weekend and split a mid-week series with New Mexico. TTU’s struggles came on the heels of a four-game winning streak, which included a pair of home wins over Missouri. Tech is 8-11 away from Dan Law Field, including a 2-7 mark on other teams’ home fields.

Sophomore infielder Joey Kenworthy leads the Red Raiders with a .315 batting average, and has a team-high 36 runs scored. Junior outfielder Roger Kieschnick leads the Big 12 with 11 home runs and has team-highs in RBIs (37), slugging percentage (.677) and total bases (88).

Tech is planning to throw three right-handed pitchers this weekend, led by junior A.J. Ramos, who tossed a complete-game shutout last year against the Jayhawks. Ramos has struggled this season with a 1-3 mark and a 5.58 ERA. Sophomore Nathan Karns (1-5, 9.40 ERA) and freshman Chad Bettis (3-2, 5.23 ERA) will get the other two starts.

Head coach Larry Hays is in his 22nd season at Texas Tech and has a record of 806-465 at the school. Hays’ team returns 17 letterwinners and seven position starters from last year’s squad.Last Time Out

Senior Erik Morrison hit a pair of home runs, while Ryne Price had 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 on April 6 and a three-game series sweep of the Jayhawks at Baylor Ballpark.

Noting the Jayhawks

– Kansas will be looking to break a six-game losing streak against conference opponents when it takes the field Friday against Texas Tech.

– KU would like to reverse a trend that plagued it at Baylor last 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.

– Despite eight losses in the conference this season, KU’s offense has been respectable, averaging 5.6 runs per game and 9.7 hits per game against Big 12 opponents. The Jayhawks have also scored five runs or more in all but two of their nine conference games.

– KU has dropped back-to-back Sunday games after winning six in a row on the first day of the week. The Jayhawks dropped their first Sunday decision of the year against Hawaii-Hilo on Feb. 24, and then reeled off six straight wins: Hawaii-Hilo (Feb. 24 – second game of doubleheader), Iowa (March 2), North Dakota State (March 9 – swept a doubleheader), at Texas (March 16) and vs. Northwestern (March 23).

– Despite falling in a 4-3 thriller at Baylor on April 4, the Jayhawks have been much better this season in one-run games. Heading into the Texas Tech series, KU is 4-4 in one-run games, compared to a 3-11 record in 2007.

– 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 their lone win coming on March 8 against North Dakota State (4-3, 10 innings).

– Junior catcher Buck Afenir had three hits in the April 4 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 April 5. 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, April 4 and 6. 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 April 6 at Baylor with a pinch hit single. Heere has hit safely in three of his last four games.

– Junior Preston Land is in 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 the April 4 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 April 6 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 the April 4 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 April 6 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 the 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 April 5 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 the April 4 game at Baylor. Bollman has eight scoreless appearances this season.

– Freshman Brett Bochy recorded a strike out in 2/3 of an inning April 5 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 April 4. 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 April 4 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 April 4. 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).

Finding EMo

Senior Erik Morrison hit two home runs in the April 6 game at Baylor. It marked the short stop’s fourth career multi-home run game and second against a Big 12 opponent. Morrison’s other multi-homer games came against Western Illinois (March 19, 2005 and March 5, 2006) and Oklahoma State (May 26, 2006).

Morrison’s two home runs moved him into a tie for third place with former Jayhawk Ryan Baty on KU’s career home run list with 28 career round-trippers. Teammate Ryne Price is the schools’ career leader with 33 homers.

Home Sweet Home

While Kansas has struggled to win games on the road recently, beating the Jayhawks at home has been a tough task for visiting teams. KU is 9-4 in home games this season and is batting .309 in those games. The Jayhawks have average 7.9 runs a game at home and 9.8 hits per game. More importantly, KU has a 4.15 ERA at Hoglund Ballpark, compared to a 6.24 ERA in road and neutral site contests.

KU’s best offensive performer at Hoglund Ballpark has been John Allman, who has a .564 batting average with two homers, 19 RBIs and an OPS of 1.556 at home. Junior lefty Nick Czyz has also enjoyed the comforts of home, posting a 1-0 mark with a 2.38 ERA and 16 strikeouts in two home starts.

Kansas in National Statistics

During the 2008 season, the Jayhawks have put up some eye-opening numbers. Below are team and individual rankings as of Tuesday:

– Outfielder John Allman ranks 24th in times hit by pitch (11) and 29th in sacrifice flies (four).

– First baseman Preston Land ranks 21st in the country in doubles (13).

– Second baseman Robby Price ranks first nationally in sacrifices (20) and is tops in sacrifices per game (0.53).

– Outfielder Ryne Price ranks fifth in the country in RBIs (45), is 40th in RBIs per game (1.29), 37th in home runs (nine) and 40th in total bases (82).

– Pitcher Paul Smyth ranks 20th in the country in saves (six).

– As a team, KU ranks 22nd in runs scored (237), 37th in hits (335), 20th in triples (13) and eighth in times hit by pitch (55).

Jayhawks in the Pros

– Zach Ashwood (2007), opened the season at Single-A Peoria, and allowed just an unearned run on two hits in his first start of the season. Ashwood was drafted by the Chicago Cubs in the 16th round of the 2007 draft.

– Don Czyz (2003-06), earned his first save of the season on April 6 for the Greensboro Grasshoppers – the Single-A affiliate of the Florida Marlins. Czyz has made two appearances this season and has allowed just one hit with five strikeouts in three innings pitched.

– Tom Gorzelanny (2001-02), in his third season with the Pittsburgh Pirates, had a rough outing against the Chicago Cubs on Monday after a quality start against the Atlanta Braves. Gorzelanny had a career year last season with Pittsburgh, going 14-10 with a 3.88 ERA with 135 strikeouts in 201 2/3 innings pitched.

– Travis Metcalf (2002-04), was placed on the 15-day DL by the Texas Rangers. Last season, Metcalf’s first in the major leagues, he hit .255 with five homers and 21 RBIs with the Rangers.

– Gus Milner (2005-06), hit his first home run of the season on April 5 for Clearwater. He opens the 2008 season with the Single-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies after being drafted by their organization in 2006. Last season, Milner hit .286 with 10 homers and 66 RBIs for Lakewood, another Single-A affiliate.

– A.J. Van Slyke (2004-05), collected his first hit of the season on April 5 for the Springfield Cardinals – the Double-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Van Slyke played in Single-A last season and hit .283 with 26 doubles, three homers and 40 runs scored. He was drafted by the Cardinals in 2005.

– Les Walrond (1996-98), has made three appearances for the Iowa Cubs – the Triple-A affiliate of the Chicago Cubs – and has nine strikeouts in six innings pitched. Walrond has been in the Cubs’ organization for the past three seasons after being drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1998.

– Mike Zagurski (2004-05), starts the 2008 season on the 15-day DL with the Philadelphia Phillies. Zagurski made 25 appearances last season – his first in the big leagues – and posted a 1-0 record with 21 strikeouts in 21 1/3 innings pitched. He was drafted by the Phillies in the 12th round of the 2005 draft.

In My 30 Years of Coaching…

Kansas head coach Ritch Price has achieved two milestones this month. Price collected his 800th career victory in 30 years of coaching on March 11 with an 8-1 triumph against Tabor College. Price’s 800 wins include time spent at Jasper (Texas) and Phoenix (Ore.) high schools, Menlo (Calif.) and De Anza (Calif.) junior colleges as well as at Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo and KU.

On March 12, Price’s team helped him earn victory No. 400 at the Division I level with an 11-7 win at Missouri State. This includes 217 wins at Cal Poly and 183 victories with the Jayhawks. Price’s next milestone will be win No. 200 at KU (12 wins shy), something only two other coaches have ever achieved.

Lights, Camera, Jayhawks

CBS College Sports, a national cable station devoted to college athletics, announced Feb. 25 that it will broadcast Kansas’ game at Nebraska scheduled for April 20 on tape delay.

This marks the second time the Jayhawks can be seen on national television during the 2008 season as the April 12 contest between KU and Texas Tech will be seen on Fox Sports Net.

Fourteen Jayhawks Named to AD’s Honor Roll

Fourteen Kansas baseball players have been named to the Athletic Director’s Honor Roll for the fall 2007 semester. This list includes redshirt sophomore Max Ellenbecker, who posted a perfect 4.0 GPA for the fall semester.

Other players on the AD’s Honor Roll include seniors John Allman, Justin Ellrich, Hiarali Garcia, Matt Lane and Ryne Price; juniors Buck Afenir and Nick Faunce; sophomores Ellenbecker and Robby Price as well as freshmen Casey Lytle, Phil Parrish, Zach Sperry, Tony Thompson and T.J. Walz.

Price Named Assistant For US National Team

Kansas baseball head coach Ritch Price has been named a USA Baseball National Team assistant coach for the summer 2008 tour, USA Baseball announced in December. The veteran Jayhawk skipper is one of three collegiate head coaches to make up national head coach Rob Walton’s staff next summer.

Price is joined by Old Dominion’s Jerry Meyers and the University of San Francisco’s Nino Giarratano.

Allman Named to Preseason Watch List

Kansas senior John Allman highlights the list of players named to the preseason release of the 2008 Brooks Wallace Player of the Year Award Watch List.

Allman, a 6-foot-1 outfielder from St. Louis, Mo., led the Jayhawks with a .333 batting average last season, with four homers, 16 doubles and 44 RBIs. He led the team with 14 multi-RBI games and also hit. 354 (23-for-65) with runners in scoring position. Allman enjoyed a career-best 10 game hitting streak from Feb. 10 to March 7, which saw him hit around .400 during the first month of the season.

The Wallace Award is presented to the nation’s top collegiate baseball player in conjunction with the College Baseball Hall of Fame’s annual induction festivities. The 2008 award banquet will be held Thursday, July 3, in the United Spirit Arena on the campus of Texas Tech University.

Major League Bloodlines

Several players on the 2008 Jayhawk baseball team have relatives who have played in the major leagues. They include:

– Buck Afenir’s uncle, Troy Afenir, played 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.

Oh, Brother

A handful of Jayhawks have also followed older siblings onto the KU baseball team:

– Nick Czyz’ older brother, Don, pitched at KU from 2003-06. Don was drafted by the Florida Marlins after the 2006 season.

– Jordan Jakubov’s older brother, Ryan, pitched at KU from 2002-03. Jordan has another brother, Matthew, who played at Wichita State.

– 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 in 2006. He is now serving as an assistant coach at South Dakota State University.

Up Next

After this weekend’s set with Texas Tech, the Jayhawks will play a pair of mid-week games at Hoglund Ballpark. KU will take on Baker University on Tuesday, April 15 at 6 p.m., and Missouri State at 6 p.m., Wednesday, April 16. Wednesday’s game against the Missouri State Bears will be 25-cent hotdog night as all fans in attendance can purchase hotdogs at the concession stand for a quarter while supplies last.