Jayhawks Close Out Homestand with Baker, Missouri State

April 15, 2008

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After a weekend sweep of Texas Tech, the Jayhawks will take aim at a pair of non-conference foes this week at Hoglund Ballpark. Kansas plays host to Baker Tuesday evening at 6 p.m., before welcoming Missouri State Wednesday, also at 6 p.m.

Wednesday’s game against the Bears will be broadcast on KLWN (1320 AM). Veteran Jayhawk play-by-play men Brian Hanni and Tom Hedrick will call the action from Hoglund Ballpark.

KU’s game against Missouri State also marks the return of “Quarter Hot Dog Night” as all fans in attendance can purchase hot dogs for 25-cents at the concession stand.

The Series vs. Baker

Tuesday’s tilt with the Wildcats marks the 72nd all-time meeting in the series, which dates back to KU’s fifth season of baseball – 1886. The Jayhawks lead the all-time series 61-9-1 with the lone tie coming in the schools’ first meeting. KU has won the last four games in the series, including a 24-7 triumph last season in Lawrence. Baker’s last victory came on April 8, 2003.

The Series vs. Missouri State

The Jayhawks renew their rivalry with the Bears Wednesday at Hoglund Ballpark, marking the 42nd meeting in the all-time series. Missouri State holds a slight 21-20 edge in the series, which dates back to 1988. However, KU has won three of the last four, including an 11-7 come-from-behind victory in Springfield on March 12 this season. MSU hasn’t won in Lawrence since 2004, when it took an 11-8 decision.

Scouting the Wildcats

Baker swept a doubleheader from MidAmerica Nazarene Monday evening and has won four of its last six games heading into Tuesday’s contest with the Jayhawks. The Wildcats split a four-game series with William Jewell last weekend.

Senior first baseman Aaron Westerhouse leads the Wildcats’ offense with a .449 batting average and 16 RBIs. Junior catcher Christopher Moody has two home runs and 10 RBIs to go along with a .356 on-base percentage.

The Wildcats are planning to throw Eudora (Kan.) native Joe Kaup against Kansas on Tuesday. Kaup is 0-2 this season and looking to bounce back. Lefty Mike Strnad has been Baker’s most effective pitcher out of the bullpen, posting a 2.61 ERA and seven strikeouts in eight appearances this year.

Head coach Phil Hannon is in his seventh season at his alma mater. Hannon led the Wildcats to a 22-21 record last season.

Scouting the Bears

Missouri State has hit its stride since falling to KU on March 12. The Bears have won 14 of their last 20 games, including a 7-4 win at No. 5 Wichita State to stop the Shockers’ 19-game winning streak. However, the Bears have had their problems on the road, going just 8-6 away from Hammons Field.

Senior outfielder Ben Woodbury leads MSU’s offense with a .420 batting average, 55 hits and a .500 on-base percentage this season. Topeka (Kan.) product Ben Carlson has been the team’s top power source, posting a .407 batting average, 10 homers, 37 RBIs and a .715 slugging percentage.

Freshman righty Tyler Ryun is scheduled to start Wednesday’s game in Lawrence. Ryun is 1-0 this season with an ERA of 4.02 and seven strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. Junior Matt Frevert has been Missouri State’s top arm out of the bullpen this season. The 6-foot-1 righty is 4-1 with an ERA of 3.63 and 22 strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings pitched.

Head coach Keith Guttin is in his 26th season at MSU and has an overall record of 886-547 at the school. Guttin has led the Bears to seven NCAA Tournament appearances, including the schools’ only College World Series appearance in 2003.

Last Time Out

Juniors Buck Afenir and Preston Land hit two-run homers in the bottom of the sixth, while T.J. Walz and Paul Smyth pitched solidly on the mound as Kansas completed a three-game sweep of Texas Tech, 5-2, Sunday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark.

Noting the Jayhawks

– Kansas earned a three-game sweep of Texas Tech over the weekend, its first sweep of a Big 12 opponent since winning three straight over Texas A&M in May of 2006.

– Kansas hit three home runs in two seperate games in the Texas Tech series. Prior to last weekend, KU had just one three-homer game – April 5 at Baylor. As a team, the Jayhawks have hit 11 home runs over their last five games.

– The Jayhawks have played well at Hoglund Ballpark this season, going 12-4. All four of the Jayhawks’ home losses have come to nationally ranked opponents (three to then-No. 20 Texas A&M and one to then-No. 8 Wichita State). In three of the four losses, the Jayhawks led at some point during the game.

– With the 5-2 win on Sunday, the Jayhawks improved to 7-3 this season in games played on the first day of the week. KU had dropped back-to-back Sunday games (to Texas A&M, March 30 and Baylor, April 6) for the first time all year before the win over the Red Raiders.

– KU’s pitching staff allowed just eight runs during the three-game series against Texas Tech (2.67 per game), which is a far cry from the 33 runs it allowed in the Baylor series, April 4-6 (11.0 runs per game). The eight runs allowed to the Red Raiders is KU’s best conference series total since it held Texas Tech to five runs in three games during the 2007 series in Lubbock.

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

– Junior catcher Buck Afenir hit a key two-run homer in the sixth inning Sunday against Texas Tech, breaking a 1-1 tie. It was Afenir’s first home run since March 29 when he hit a two-run shot against Texas A&M.

– Senior John Allman went 3-for-5 with a homer and three RBIs in Friday’s 9-5 win over Texas Tech. Allman is second on the team with 12 multiple-hit games this season, including eight at Hoglund Ballpark.

– 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.

– 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 hit two home runs in the Texas Tech series, including a three-run shot to extend a two-run lead Friday. Land’s blast on April 11 was his first round-tripper since hitting a pair against Iowa on March 2.

– Senior Casey Larson collected five hits in the Texas Tech series, including leadoff base hits in three consecutive games. The senior outfielder has reached base at a .385 clip when he leads off an inning.

– Senior Erik Morrison hit safely in all three games of the Texas Tech series. Morrison homered in Friday’s game to give him three round-trippers in a two-game span.

– Sophomore Robby Price went 5-for-9 against Texas Tech and scored five runs. Price was a tough out for Red Raider pitching all weekend, reaching base nine times in 13 plate appearances (.692 on-base percentage).

– Senior Ryne Price went 0-for-3 Sunday to snap a 10-game hitting streak. During the streak – which is the longest by a KU player this season – Price hit .375 with six doubles, three homers and 15 RBIs. Price also had eight straight games with an RBI until Sunday.

– Freshman Tony Thompson was held hitless in the Texas Tech series. It marked the first time the Kansas third baseman was held without a base hit in three straight games since late February.

– Freshman Jimmy Waters hit a solo home run Sunday against Texas Tech. Waters has been a pretty good hitter at home this season, hitting .333 (4-for-12) with two homers and three runs scored.

– Freshman Brett Bochy recorded a strikeout 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 Texas Tech to three earned runs over 6 1/3 innings Friday to earn his second victory of the season. Czyz’ 6 1/3 innings pitched was his longest outing since he went seven frames against Arkansas on March 10 of last season.

– 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 Andres Esquibel pitched eight innings of one-hit ball Saturday against Texas Tech. The senior righty retired the first six he faced and matched a career high with seven strikeouts.

– Senior Hiarali Garcia pitched the ninth inning of Saturday’s one-hitter against Texas Tech, allowing no runs and no hits. Garcia has allowed earned runs in just two of his nine relief appearances this season.

– Sophomore Shaeffer Hall finished the seventh inning Friday afternoon against Texas Tech. Hall entered the game with the tying run on third, but forced Roger Kieschnick into an inning-ending ground out to earn a hold – credited when a pitcher enters a game in a save situation, records at least one out, and leaves the game never having relinquished the lead.

– 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.

– Junior Paul Smyth made his longest appearance of the season (3 2/3 innings) against Texas Tech Sunday to earn his second win of the year. Smyth had not pitched as many innings in a game since he went a career-long 4 2/3 against Texas A&M, March 17, 2007.

– Freshman T.J. Walz made his first start against a Big 12 opponent Sunday and was impressive through 5 1/3 innings. The 6-foot righty held the Red Raiders to one run on three hits and recorded three strikeouts. Walz has made a pair of starts this season and allowed single runs in five-plus innings in those starts.

National Spotlight

Senior Andres Esquibel impressed a national television audience allowing just one hit over eight innings Saturday against Texas Tech. The senior righty teamed up with Hiarali Garcia to toss KU’s first combined one-hitter against a Big 12 opponent.

Esquibel – who did not allow a base hit until there were two outs in the fifth inning – pitched around a career-high seven walks for his third win of the season. The game marked the first time KU has held a conference opponent to just one hit since Craig Mulcahy shut out Oklahoma on a lone base hit May 7, 1988.

KU’s win, which was broadcast on Fox Sports Net, was the team’s first on a televised game since a 9-7 win over Nebraska for the 2006 Big 12 Championship game.

The Price is Right

Senior Ryne Price continued to terrorize Big 12 pitching last weekend against Texas Tech. Price drove in four more runs to run his Big 12-leading RBI total to 49. Price is also tied for third in the conference in homers (nine), third in total bases (86), seventh in hits (46) and seventh in slugging percentage (.606).

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 on April 5 and is near his top totals in hits (46 this season/50 career high), doubles (11/12), homers (9/10), runs scored (33/46) and total bases (86/99).

In My 30 Years of Coaching…

Kansas head coach Ritch Price has achieved two milestones last 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. KU defeated Texas Tech, 9-1, on Fox Sports Net this past Saturday.

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 the two non-conference games this week, Kansas will take to the road again and not return to Hoglund Ballpark in the month of April. The Jayhawks’ first series in an eight-game stretch away from Lawrence will begin Friday, April 18 at No. 10 Nebraska. The Jayhawks and Huskers will meet at 6:35 p.m. Friday, 3:35 p.m., Saturday and 1:05 p.m., Sunday. The final game of the series can be seen on tape delay on CBS College Sports (Channel 143 on Sunflower Cable). The tape delayed broadcast will begin at 6 p.m.

Season Tickets on Sale

Kansas baseball season tickets are on sale now. Fans can order tickets by calling the Jayhawk ticket office at 800-34-HAWKS or by logging on to kuathletics.com.