Jayhawks-Tigers Square Off at Kauffman Stadium Wednesday

April 21, 2009

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Kansas vs. Missouri

Following a make-up game with Baker University Tuesday, the Kansas baseball team will face Border Showdown rival Missouri in a non-conference battle at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium Wednesday evening. The Jayhawks and Tigers will renew their rivalry at 7 p.m. at the home of the Kansas City Royals.

The game will be broadcast by KLWN Radio (1320 AM) with Tom Hedrick and Brian Hanni calling the action.

Series History

Wednesday’s meeting at The K marks the 318th all-time meeting between Kansas and Missouri on the baseball field. The Tigers lead the series 193-122, and there have been two ties. The teams split four games last season, with KU winning the first non-conference meeting at Kauffman Stadium, 3-0 on April 29, 2008.

About the Jayhawks

Kansas is receiving votes in the latest National Collegiate Baseball Writer’s Association poll. Kansas dropped out of the national rankings in both the Baseball America and NCBWA polls this week.

KU’s offense is led by Tony Thompson’s .384 batting average. Thompson also leads the team with 12 homers, 50 RBIs and a .715 slugging percentage. As a team, KU is batting .302.

On the mound, KU is paced by Brett Bollman’s 1.74 ERA. Opponents are batting .260 against KU this season, while the team has an ERA of 4.13, which ranks third in the Big 12.

Scouting the Tigers

Missouri enters the showdown with the Jayhawks having won a series at No. 21 Kansas State over the weekend, and has won four of its last five games overall.

Junior Greg Folgia leads the team with a .331 batting average, seven homers and 42 RBIs. Junior Aaron Senne leads the team with 12 doubles and is tied for the team lead with a .436 on-base percentage. As a team, the Tigers are batting .266 and are averaging 6.1 runs per game.

Kansas will face senior right-handed pitcher Ian Berger Wednesday evening. Berger is 2-3 with a 5.68 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 38 innings pitched. Berger faced the Jayhawks in the game at Kauffman Stadium last season and allowed three runs on six hits over seven innings with three walks and six strikeouts. Sophomore relief pitcher Brad Buehler is tied for the conference lead in appearances with 21, and has a 2.95 ERA and three saves this season.

Missouri returns 20 letterwinners and six position starters from last year’s team, which finished 39-21 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

Last Time Out

Sophomore Brian Heere went 3-for-4 with three RBIs, while Tony Thompson hit a pair of home runs as Kansas baseball avoided a three-game sweep with a 15-6 rout of Texas Tech Sunday at Dan Law Field.

Brunansky Blossoming

Freshman Jason Brunansky enjoyed his most productive week in a Kansas uniform last week, highlighted with a three-run home run at Rosenblatt Stadium on April 14. Brunansky has started 23 games this season, but was forced to become the every day center fielder when senior Nick Faunce went down with an injury on April 12.

Since the injury, Brunansky is 8-for-17 (.471) with a double, a homer and five RBIs. He collected two hits in each of his four starts last week and reached base at a .550 clip. The freshman raised his batting average by 54 points since the end of March, and has hit safely in his last eight starts.

Prior to this recent run, Brunansky was best known for his defensive ability. He has made several highlight reel catches in center field, including a grab where he crashed into the fence against No. 4 Arizona State on March 13.

Bollman Becoming an Ace

Junior right-handed pitcher Brett Bollman has become one of the most effective pitchers on the Kansas staff. The 5-foot-9 righty did not allow an earned run in his April 14 start at Creighton and then pitched 4 2/3 innings of effective relief against Texas Tech Saturday.

Bollman has been a pleasant surprise as a midweek starter for the Jayhawks this season. The junior did not pitch in the team’s first 10 games, but found a niche as KU’s midweek starter. He has posted a 4-0 record with a 1.78 ERA and just three walks in 25 1/3 innings as a starting pitcher.

Like the rest of the Kansas staff, Bollman has not issued many free passes. The junior has not allowed a walk in his last 16.0 innings on the mound and has given up just three all season.

Tony, Tony, Tony

Sophomore third baseman Tony Thompson has been an impressive force in the Kansas lineup this season. The second-year player is close to a triple crown in the Big 12, ranking third in batting average (.384), tied for second in homers (12) and first in RBIs (50).

Should he finish the year tops in all three categories, Thompson would be the first player in the Big 12 era to accomplish the feat. The last player to win the triple crown in a league KU competed in was Oklahoma State’s Pete Incaviglia, who finished the 1985 season with the Big Eight Conference lead in batting average (.464), homers (48) and RBIs (143).

Off on the Right Foot

The Jayhawks scored seven first-inning runs in Sunday’s 15-6 triumph at Texas Tech, which the most productive inning KU has had this season. It was also the team’s most prolific opening frame since the Jayhawks scored seven first-inning runs at Oklahoma on April 5, 2005.

Getting off to a good start has been vitally important for Kansas this season. The Jayhawks are 11-4 when they score in the first inning and 19-4 in games when they are the first team to produce a run. KU is also 21-1 when leading after the fourth inning, and 1-11 when trailing after four.

Around the Horn

– The Jayhawks face Border Showdown rival Missouri at Kauffman Stadium Wednesday evening, after a Tuesday tune up against Baker. This marks the second meeting between KU and MU at Kauffman Stadium, with the Jayhawks taking the first meeting, 3-0, last season. The Kauffman Stadium series was scheduled to begin in 2007, but was cancelled due to rain.

– The Jayhawks are 4-4 all-time in games played in major league stadiums, including 1-1 at Kauffman Stadium. Other than last season’s game with Missouri, KU lost an exhibition game to the Kansas City Royals on April 18, 1979.

– Kansas has been very good in midweek games this season, posting a record of 12-3 in contests played on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Jayhawks have won seven midweek games in a row, dating back to a 9-8 loss at San Diego State on March 18.

– 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 April 14 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 went 5-for-13 (.385) in the Texas Tech series and drove in four runs. Afenir is the team’s leading hitter (.393) against Big 12 competition.

– 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 hit his first and second home runs of the season over the weekend at Texas Tech, and collected two hits in Sunday’s win. Land has hit safely in 11 of the team’s 15 Big 12 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 went 3-for-3 with a pair of RBIs in Saturday’s loss at Texas Tech. Price also doubled twice, bringing him one double shy of his single-season career high (eight).

– Freshman infielder James Stanfield played well in place of injured shortstop David Narodowski two weeks ago. Stanfield went 5-for-14 (.357) in Narodowski’s absence from the lineup, and made just one error defensively.

– Junior shortstop David Narodowski recorded a season-high four RBIs in Sunday’s win at Texas Tech. Despite hitting in the leadoff spot most of the season, Narodowski is tied for fourth on the team with 21 RBIs.

– Sophomore Tony Thompson recorded his second multi-homer game of the season Sunday against Texas Tech. Thompson’s 12 home runs this year are the most since Erik Morrison hit 14 round-trippers in 2006 and the seventh-most by a Jayhawk in one season.

– 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 has hit safely in each of his last eight starts, including multiple hits in all four games last week. Brunansky is batting .261 with runners in scoring position this year.

– Sophomore Brian Heere recorded his 11th multi-hit game of the season Sunday, collecting three hits at Texas Tech. Heere is currently second in the Big 12 with a .483 on-base percentage and is tied for seventh in walks (29).

– Sophomore Casey Lytle hit safely in all three of the games at Texas Tech, and is batting .284 this season.

– Sophomore Jimmy Waters recorded a season-high three hits in Friday’s loss at Texas Tech. It was the sophomore’s first three-hit game since going 3-for-5 with five RBIs against Oklahoma on May 2, 2008.

– 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.

– Sophomore Brett Bochy picked up his second straight win out of the bullpen April 14, pitching 2 1/3 innings at Creighton. Bochy recorded three more strikeouts in the game and has 33 k’s in 21 1/3 innings this season.

– Junior Brett Bollman was perhaps KU’s most effective pitcher in the Texas Tech series, allowing just one run on one hit over 4 2/3 innings of relief on Saturday. Bollman has allowed just three walks in 31 innings 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. His two complete games this year are the most since Mike Zagurski tossed a pair of CGs in 2005.

– 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 Colton Murray bounced back from a rocky outing against Creighton by pitching a scoreless inning against Texas Tech on April 17. Murray has done a great job of retiring the first hitter he faces, taking down the leadoff hitter in 16 of his 19 appearances.

– Freshman Lee Ridenhour earned his fourth win of the season Sunday at Texas Tech, pitching six innings and allowing one run. Ridenhour had not picked up a victory since March 11, when he tossed eight shutout innings against Wichita State.

– Sophomore T.J. Walz struck out a career high 10 Cowboys in his April 11 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 19. Individually and as a team, the Jayhawks have put up some impressive numbers:

– Kansas ranks 27th nationally in ERA with a 4.18 average.

– The Jayhawks are also 11th nationally with just 2.69 walks per nine innings. Hall’s 0.97 walks per nine innings is the ninth-best rate in the nation.

– KU’s pitching staff also ranks 36th in hits allowed per nine innings at 9.01.

– Sophomore Tony Thompson holds Top 50 rankings in several categories, ranking 40th in homers (12), 17th in RBIs (50) and 26th in total bases (108).

– Junior Robby Price ranks 16th in the country with nine sacrifice bunts.

– As a team, KU is also 48th in triples (22), 42nd in sacrifice bunts (29), 29th in sac flies (22) and 47th in fielding percentage (.970).

Up Next
The Jayhawks will return to Hoglund Ballpark to host Nebraska in a three-game series beginning Friday, April 24 at 6 p.m. The teams will also meet Saturday at 6 p.m., while Sunday’s game will start at 1 p.m. All three games will be broadcast by KLWN (1320 AM) with Brian Hanni and Tom Hedrick on the call.