Jayhawks Take Aim at No. 4 Texas This Weekend
April 20, 2011
#4 Texas (28-9, 11-4) at Kansas (19-18, 8-7)
April 21-23 – 6 p.m., 6 p.m., 1 p.m.
Hoglund Ballpark (2,500) – Lawrence, Kan.
Thursday, April 21
– Live Video
Friday, April 22
– Live Video
Saturday, April 23
– Live Video
Kansas baseball will wrap up a brief four-game homestand with a three-game showdown against No. 4 Texas at Hoglund Ballpark this weekend. The Jayhawks and Longhorns will meet on Thursday and Friday at 6 p.m., and wrap up the series on Saturday at 1 p.m.
All three games from the Kansas-Texas series will be carried on Lawrence radio station KLWN (1320 AM) with Brian Hanni, Tom Hedrick and Kyle West on the call. Fans can also watch all three games live via KU’s All-Access live video at www.kuathletics.com.
Texas leads the all-time series with Kansas by a 37-14 count, however the margin is just 13-8 in favor of the Longhorns in games played in Lawrence. KU is 8-18 against Texas under head coach Ritch Price. UT’s last trip to Hoglund Ballpark resulted in a three-game Jayhawk sweep in 2009 as Kansas took all three-games by one run.
About the Jayhawks
Kansas has hit its stride in the month of April, winning nine of 13 games during the month, including three-straight Big 12 series. The Jayhawks’ series win at Missouri last weekend moved them into fourth in the conference standings.
KU is batting .254 with 19 homers and averaging 4.1 runs per game. Sophomore Jake Marasco leads the offense with a .300 batting average with six doubles, two homers and 12 RBIs. On the mound, KU has posted a 3.52 team ERA. Senior T.J. Walz leads the staff with a 5-3 record, a 3.32 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings.
Scouting the Longhorns
Texas enters the series ranked No. 4 in the country in three of the four major college baseball polls. The Longhorns have won 11 of their last 13 games and have a record of 5-4 away from Disch-Falk Field this season.
UT is batting .258 as a team with six homers and are averaging 5.2 runs per game. Freshman infielder Erich Weiss leads the Longhorns with a .380 batting average with 24 RBIs and a .519 on-base percentage. Senior Tant Sheppard is tied for the team lead with 11 doubles, has two homers and has driven in 23 runs.
On the mound, Texas ranks sixth among Division I teams with a 2.32 team ERA and are holding opponents to a .199 batting average. Junior right-handed pitcher Taylor Jungmann is the ace of the Texas staff with an 8-0 record and a 1.11 ERA with 63 strikeouts and just nine walks in 72 2/3 innings. UT closer Corey Knebel is 2-1 with an 0.75 ERA and leads the Big 12 with 12 saves in 20 appearances.
Texas head coach Augie Garrido is in his 14th year with the Longhorns and has a record of 595-301-2 at the school. UT’s pseudo-RPI ranking heading into the series at Kansas is No. 22 according to Boyd’s World.
Last Time Out
Kansas baseball hit three home runs Tuesday, including two by sophomore catcher Alex DeLeon as the Jayhawks routed Saint Mary, 11-5, in a non-conference game at Hoglund Ballpark.
– Kansas has three players on its roster from the state of Texas: redshirt Alex Harris (Murphy), outfielder Taylor Hart (Jasper) and relief pitcher Tyler Smith (Cypress).
– UT’s roster features all but three players from the state of Texas.
– KU’s Alex Harris graduated from Plano East High School, while UT’s Ryan Ford graduated from Plano West.
– Kansas head coach Ritch Price and Texas head coach Augie Garrido both have roots in the Big West Conference. Price was the head coach at Cal Poly from 1995-2002, while Garrido coached at Cal State Fullerton from 1973-87 and 1991-96.
Kansas senior pitcher T.J. Walz has been one of the best pitchers in the Big 12 this season, posting a 5-1 record with a 2.33 ERA and 58 strikeouts since Feb. 28. Walz leads the Big 12 with 38 strikeouts in his five starts against the league, while he ranks 10th in ERA in conference games at 2.04.
Walz became the school’s all-time leader in strikeouts earlier this season (285) and is second in Kansas history in wins (25), innings pitched (297.1) and games started (45). He is also tied for eighth in strikeouts per nine innings pitched (8.63).
With the temperatures warming up in the month of April, KU’s bats have been hot as well. Since April 1, the Jayhawks have clubbed 15 homers and have a .290 batting average with a .457 slugging percentage. KU is also averaging 6.1 runs per game in April, compared to just 3.0 runs per game the first six weeks of the year.
It hasn’t been just one or two players doing the damage as eight different Jayhawks have gone deep during the month of April, while six players are batting above .300 during the month.
Casey at the Bat
While KU’s entire lineup has taken off in the month of April, perhaps the hottest hitter has been senior Casey Lytle. Like most of his teammates, Lytle got off to a rough start, but has raised his batting average by almost 80 points since conference play started on March 18, from .213 to .291.
Lytle started his surge with a 13-game hitting streak from March 9-30 and is batting .340 in Big 12 games this season. He has also shown surprising power recently, collecting seven extra base hits since April 1, after just two in his first 24 games of the year.
Closing the Deal
One of the reasons for KU’s success in conference play this season has been the bullpen’s ability to hold on to a lead. The Jayhawks are 19-1 this season when the team leads after five innings and 17-0 when KU is ahead after eight.
Junior closer Colton Murray and freshman Frank Duncan have been spectacular this season. The tandem has combined for a 2.10 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings out of the bullpen. Either Duncan or Murray has finished seven of the team’s eight conference wins this year.
– KU has actually had some success against Texas historically in Lawrence. The Jayhawks are 8-13 against the Longhorns at Hoglund Ballpark and have won two of four home series against UT under head coach Ritch Price.
– The Jayhawks’ series against No. 4 Texas will mark the fifth different opponent that has been ranked in the top 10 at the time of the game and sixth to be ranked in the top 25. KU has gone 3-8 against ranked teams this season.
– The grueling schedule has helped KU maintain a good RPI, despite a 19-18 record. Following action this week, the Jayhawks are ranked 66th in psuedo-RPI rankings according to BoydsWorld.com.
– Four runs scored has been the magic number for the Jayhawk offense this season. KU is 18-2 when the team scores four runs or more and 1-16 when scoring three runs or less. The Jayhawks are also unbeaten when scoring more than five runs.
– Hoglund Ballpark has been a tough place for visiting teams to play in recent years. KU is 13-7 at home this season and 71-26-1 (.730) since the beginning of the 2008 season.
– The Jayhawks have also hit and pitched much better at Hoglund Ballpark this season. KU is batting .283 and averaging 4.75 runs per game at home, compared to a .225 average and 3.3 runs per game on the road.
– Sophomore Alex DeLeon hit two home runs in KU’s Tuesday night win over Saint Mary. DeLeon became the first Jayhawk to record a multi-homer game since Robby Price hit a pair of round-trippers against Missouri on May 9 of last season.
– While KU’s bullpen has gotten a lot of noteriaty, the Jayhawks’ starting pitching has been very good as well. KU’s starters have an ERA of 3.47 and 20 quality starts, while holding opposing hitters to a .253 batting average.
– The NCAA released its fifth set of national stats on Tuesday. Through games on April 17, KU ranks 56th in the country in ERA (3.48), 56th in hits allowed per 9 IP (8.39) and 98th in times hit by pitch (39) and fielding percentage (.968).
– Individual players ranked in the top 100 of the national Division I stats include: Colton Murray ranks 50th in saves (six), T.J. Walz is 40th in strikeouts (63), 84th in strikeouts per 9 IP (9.5) and 76th in victories (five). Sophomore Thomas Taylor also ranks 50th walks per 9 IP (1.5).
– Several KU players rank in the top 10 in Big 12 statistics. Sophomore Alex DeLeon is tied for seventh in homers (five), while junior Zac Elgie ranks fourth in the league in doubles (12). On the mound, T.J. Walz ranks sixth in innings pitched (59.2), tied for second in strikeouts (63) and seventh in opponents’ batting average (.212). Closer Colton Murray is tied for fourth in the league with six saves.
Missouri Series Leftovers
– The Jayhawks picked up their first road series win of the year last weekend at Missouri, taking two of three from the Tigers. It marked the team’s first series win in Columbia since 1983.
– In the series finale, freshman Alex Cox, sophomore Thomas Taylor and freshman Frank Duncan combined on an eight-hit shutout. It was the first time KU had shut out the Tigers in Columbia since 1962.
– The Jayhawks hit four home runs in the Missouri series, which marked the most the team has hit in a Big 12 series this year.
– Junior James Stanfield hit his first career home run in the series finale on April 17. Stanfield had gone 308 collegiate at bats without a home run.
– Freshman Ka’iana Eldredge enjoyed a productive series, going 6-for-11, which included his first three-hit game in final game of the weekend.
– KU did a tremendous job of pitching out of trouble all weekend against the Tigers. The Jayhawks stranded 34 Missouri runners on base in the series and held the Tigers to a .211 batting average with runners in scoring position (7-for-33).
– Kansas pitcher Thomas Taylor continued his mastery of Missouri. Taylor pitched 1 1/3 scoreless innings on Sunday and has now allowed just two runs in 15 2/3 innings against the Tigers, spanning four appearances.
– Kansas senior T.J. Walz pitched seven innings against the Tigers, allowing one run on five hits, which marked his team-best seventh quality start of the season.
– In the series opener, KU scored runs in five consecutive innings, marking the first time the team has accomplished this in 2011.
– The Jayhawks got off to a good start, scoring a run in the first inning in all three games of the series. KU is now 7-2 on the season when scoring in the first inning. The Jayhawks are also 14-4 when they score first.
The Jayhawks will travel to Omaha, Neb., on Tuesday, April 26 to take on No. 29 Creighton at the brand new T.D. Ameritrade Stadium at 6:30 p.m. The game can be seen nationally on CBS College Sports (Channel 143 on Lawrence Knology Cable).