24th-ranked Kansas Baseball Faces Texas Tech in Lubbock
April 16, 2009
Kansas vs. Texas Tech
Riding a six-game winning streak, the Kansas baseball team travels to Lubbock, Texas for a three-game series against conference foe Texas Tech this weekend. First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., with Saturday’s game slated for a 5 p.m. start. Sunday’s finale will commence at 1 p.m.
All three games will be broadcast by KLWN radio (1320 AM), with Tom Hedrick calling the action. Fans across the country can also listen at klwn.com.
The teams have met 38 times previously, with Texas Tech holding a 24-14 advantage, including a 12-5 edge in games played in Lubbock. Kansas head coach Ritch Price has a 9-8 record against Tech, including wins in each of the last four games between the schools. KU’s last series win in Lubbock came in 2003.
About the Jayhawks
For the first time since 2006, Kansas finds itself ranked among the Top 25, holding the No. 24 position in this week’s Baseball America poll. The Jayhawks are 24-12 overall, including 9-8 against Top 25 teams.
KU’s offense is led by Tony Thompson’s .391 batting average. Thompson also leads the team with nine homers, 44 RBIs and a .681 slugging percentage. As a team, KU is batting .300.
On the mound, KU is paced by Shaeffer Hall’s 2.52 ERA. Opponents are batting .248 against KU this season, while the team has an ERA of 3.72, which ranks second in the Big 12.
Scouting the Red Raiders
Texas Tech has had a tale of two seasons. The Red Raiders are 10-4 at Dan Law Field this season, and 6-19 in road and neutral site games. Breaking it down even farther, Tech is 12-13 in weekend games, and just 4-10 in midweek affairs. Tech is currently in seventh place in the Big 12 standings.
Junior infielder Joey Kenworthy leads the Red Raiders with a .340 batting average, with eight doubles and 31 runs scored. Senior Chris Richburg has provided the pop in the batting order, with a team-high nine homers and 37 RBIs to go along with a .338 batting average.
The Jayhawks will face TTU’s trio of senior right-handed starters in Brian Cloud, A.J. Ramos and Miles Morgan. Ramos has put up the best numbers of the three, with a 3-3 record and a 4.87 ERA in eight starts. The 5-foot-10 righty has walked 13 and struck out 45 in 40 2/3 innings this season. Relief ace Chad Bettis has six saves in nine appearances out of the bullpen to go with a 2.79 ERA and 44 k’s in 51 2/3 innings.
Texas Tech returns 18 letterwinners and three position starters from last year’s team, which placed 10th in the Big 12 with a 25-30 record.
Last Time Out
Junior Robby Price’s sacrifice fly in the top of the tenth plated Casey Lytle from third base and lifted the 24th-ranked Kansas baseball team to its sixth-straight win, 7-6 in 10 innings over Creighton Tuesday evening at Rosenblatt Stadium.
Tony, Tony, Tony
Sophomore Tony Thompson collected two hits in KU’s win on Tuesday at Creighton to extend his hitting streak to 13 games, tying him for the sixth-longest streak in the Big 12 this season. Thompson also had a 14-game hitting streak to start the year, which was part of a 23-game streak that dated back to the end of the 2008 campaign.
It has been a dream season so far for Thompson, who is batting nearly 140 points higher than he was at this time last year. The sophomore third baseman leads the team in batting average (.391), hits (54), doubles (13), homers (nine), RBIs (44) and total bases (94). His average with runners in scoring position is an amazing .462 (24-for-52).
Following play on Sunday, Thompson’s 44 RBIs ranked 27th in the country, and tops in the Big 12.
No Free Rides
Junior left-handed pitcher Shaeffer Hall tossed his second complete game of the season last Friday against Oklahoma State, becoming the first Jayhawk since Mike Zagurski in 2005 to record multiple complete games in a season. Not surprisingly, Hall did not walk a single batter in the nine-inning performance.
Hall has quietly become one of the top pitchers in the Big 12. The 6-foot lefty has allowed just six walks in 53 2/3 innings this season (1.01 per nine innings), which is the second-best rate among Big 12 starting pitchers.
In his four Big 12 starts, Hall has walked just one batter in 27 1/3 innings, to go against 17 strikeouts. Hall’s 2.52 ERA is also the 53rd best in the country.
The Price is Right
Junior Robby Price came through with two big at bats in KU’s Tuesday win over Creighton at Rosenblatt Stadium. Price tripled to lead off the ninth inning, and hit a sacrifice fly which scored the winning run. He also made an array of spectacular defensive plays in the game.
Price’s production has increased over the past couple of weeks. Over KU’s last 10 games, the junior second baseman is batting .375 with a double, two triples and 14 runs scored. He has raised his batting average by 56 points since April 5, going 11-for-19 over KU’s six-game winning streak.
Price’s plate discipline has also been outstanding recently. Since the beginning of April, the junior has drawn 13 walks and struck out just once.
Kansas has been extremely impressive with two outs during its recent surge. Over the team’s last six games, Kansas has scored 24 runs and is batting .329 with two outs in the inning.
Sophomore Tony Thompson has been KU’s best two-out hitter, batting .422 (19-for-45), while junior David Narodowski is batting .421 (16-for-38) with two outs.
Around the Horn
– The Jayhawks travel to Lubbock, Texas for a three-game Big 12 series against Texas Tech. KU has won four straight in the series and seven of the last 10 meetings.
– KU’s 7-5 record in Big 12 games is the team’s best start in conference play since 1997, when the Jayhawks also won seven of their first 12 league games.
– The Jayhawks have recently reversed their fortunes on the road and in one-run games. After starting the season at 1-8 in true road games, the Jayhawks have won three-straight away from home. KU has also won its last three contests decided by one run, giving them an 8-7 record in one-run games.
– KU has been pretty good against ranked opponents this season. The Jayhawks have gone 9-8 against the Top 25, including three-game sweeps of then-No. 1 Texas (March 20-22) and then-No. 17 Oklahoma State (April 10-12).
– The Jayhawks earned their second-straight extra innings win Tuesday against Creighton. It marked the first time since 2005 that the Jayhawks have played in back-to-back extra innings games. KU is 2-1 in bonus baseball games this year.
– Kansas brushed off Oklahoma State in a three-game sweep April 10-12, the Jayhawks’ first sweep of the Cowboys since March 26-28, 1993.
– The Jayhawks collected 17 singles and no extra base hits in their win at Iowa on April 7. It marked the most hits KU has had in a game without an extra base hit since a 2004 win at Hawaii-Hilo.
– 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.
– 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 hit his 25th career home run in the April 11 win over Oklahoma State. Afenir’s 25 career round-trippers are tied for the seventh-most in Kansas history, and are one behind Jeff Niemeier’s total (26), which is the most by a KU catcher.
– Sophomore transfer Joe Lincoln went 1-for-3 in the Jayhawks’ win at Iowa on April 7. Lincoln has at least one hit in six of his 11 starts this year.
– Catcher Chris Manship collected his first collegiate hit as a pinch hitter in the April 5 loss to Baylor. Manship is the 16th Jayhawk to record a base hit this season.
– Senior first baseman Preston Land grabbed hits in the final two games of the Oklahoma State series. Land has done a pretty good job against the Big 12, hitting safely in eight of KU’s 12 conference games.
– Freshman Zac Elgie hit his first collegiate home run in the April 10 game against Oklahoma State. Elgie hit a state record 34 home runs during his 2008 American Legion campaign in Minot, N.D.
– Junior second baseman Robby Price has been a key for KU’s recent success, getting on base in front of the middle of the lineup. During the Jayhawks’ six-game winning streak, Price has five multiple hit games and has reached base at a .700 clip. He has also scored nine runs.
– Freshman infielder James Stanfield played well in place of injured shortstop David Narodowski last week. Stanfield went 5-for-14 (.357) in Narodowski’s absence from the lineup, and made just one error defensively.
– Junior shortstop David Narodowski snapped his 12-game hitting streak April 8 at Iowa, but continues to hit in nearly every game. In his 33 games, Narodowski has hit safely in 28 of them and has not gone hitless in back-to-back games since mid-March.
– Sophomore Tony Thompson leads the Jayhawks with a .415 batting average away from Hoglund Ballpark this season. The junior hasn’t provided as much power on the road, but has 27 hits in 65 road at bats compared to 27-for-73 at home (.370).
– Sophomore Greg Herbst went 2-for-4 in the April 8 game at Iowa, giving him multiple hit games in each of his past three starts.
– Senior Nick Faunce drove in another run April 8 to give him 22 RBIs this season. In Faunce’s first three seasons at Kansas, he had just 21 RBIs combined.
– Freshman Jason Brunansky hit a three-run home run Tuesday at Creighton and also had a key base hit in the 10th inning. Brunansky is batting .273 in road games this season.
– Sophomore Brian Heere has been outstanding at starting an inning this season, batting .593 when leading off an inning (16-for-27).
– Sophomore Casey Lytle stole three bases Saturday against Oklahoma State, becoming the first Jayhawk to accomplish this feat since Kyle Murphy turned the trick in 2006. Lytle has five of KU’s 25 base thefts this season.
– Sophomore Jimmy Waters returned to the Omaha-Council Bluffs area Tuesday and collected an RBI single in the third inning.
– Junior transfer Brett Lisher went 1-for-2 in the April 1 game versus Northern Colorado 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 allowed a two-run home run in his Saturday appearance, but was effective in two games out of the bullpen. Blankenship has held left-handed hitters to a .156 batting average.
– Sophomore Brett Bochy picked up his second straight win out of the bullpen Tuesday, pitching 2 1/3 innings at Creighton. Bochy recorded three more strikeouts in the game and has 28 k’s in 18 2/3 innings this season.
– Junior Brett Bollman recorded his second quality start of the season Tuesday at Creighton. Bollman has been a very effective starting pitcher, posting a 4-0 record and a 1.78 ERA in five starts this season.
– Freshman Kelson Boyer was the only Jayhawk pitcher to appear in the April 5 loss to Baylor that did not give up a run. The first-year righty struck out Dustin Dickerson to end Baylor’s half of the ninth.
– Junior Shaeffer Hall retired the leadoff hitter in all nine innings of his complete game April 10 against Oklahoma State. This was a vast improvement over his last start when the first hitter reached in three of the six innings he pitched in his previous start April 3 against Baylor.
– 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.
– Freshman Lee Ridenhour gutted out five solid innings Sunday against Oklahoma State. The freshman surrendered seven hits, but pitched out of trouble and left the game with the lead.
– Sophomore T.J. Walz struck out a career high 10 Cowboys in his Saturday start against Oklahoma State. Walz’ 10 strikeouts are the most by a Kansas pitcher since Nick Czyz fanned 11 against North Dakota State on March 9, 2008.
Jayhawks in National Numbers
The NCAA released its national collegiate baseball statistics through games on April 12. Individually and as a team, the Jayhawks have put up some impressive numbers:
– Kansas ranks 15th nationally in ERA with a 3.78 average. Shaeffer Hall’s 2.51 ERA ranks 57th nationally.
– The Jayhawks are also fifth nationally with just 2.44 walks per nine innings. Hall’s 1.01 walks per nine innings is the 15th-best rate in the nation.
– KU’s pitching staff also ranks 23rd in hits allowed per nine innings at 8.51.
– Kansas is 33rd in the country with 27 sacrifice bunts. Junior Robby Price is 20th individually with nine.
– The Jayhawks are 15th in the country with 21 sacrifice flies.
Faunce Named a Finalist for Senior CLASS Award
Kansas senior captain Nick Faunce has been named one of 10 finalists for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, which honors the nation’s most outstanding senior student-athlete in Division I baseball.
Faunce, a senior outfielder from Eugene, Ore., is currently batting .264 this season with eight doubles, two homers and 23 RBIs. He has a pair of outfield assists this season and has scored 15 runs. Faunce has also been phenomenal in the classroom, boasting a cumulative GPA over 3.6 in biochemistry. He is also a big part of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee at Kansas.
Kansas will play a pair of midweek games next week, facing Baker at 6 p.m., Tuesday at Hoglund Ballpark, before taking on Border Showdown rival Missouri in a non-conference game at Kauffman Stadium on Wednesday at 7 p.m.