Jayhawks Host Texas Tech in Key Big 12 Series

April 22, 2010


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Kansas vs. Texas Tech

Winners of four straight, the Kansas Jayhawks will look to move up in the Big 12 standings when they host Texas Tech in a three-game conference series this weekend at Hoglund Ballpark. Friday’s opener is set to begin at 7 p.m., while Saturday’s contest is slated for a 6 p.m. start, with the finale scheduled for 1 p.m. Sunday.

All three games from the series are scheduled to be broadcast by KLWN radio (1320 AM) with Brian Hanni and Tom Hedrick calling the action.

Series with Texas Tech

Texas Tech leads the all-time series with KU, 26-15. However, the Jayhawks have won back-to-back series in Lawrence, including a three-game sweep of the Red Raiders in 2008. Kansas head coach Ritch Price is 10-10 all-time against Texas Tech.

About the Jayhawks

Kansas has won five of its last six after being swept by Texas April 9-11. The Jayhawks have pitched extremely well the last six games, holding their opponents to 18 earned runs (3.06 ERA) and a .215 batting average the last 10 days.

KU’s offense ranks eighth in the Big 12 with a .293 batting average and a .390 on-base percentage. Junior Brian Heere leads the team with a .383 batting average and 11 doubles, two triples and two homers. Senior Robby Price is hitting .371 after snapping a 22-game hitting streak Wednesday.

Kansas blanked conference rival Missouri at Kauffman Stadium Wednesday night, dropping its team ERA to 4.48, which ranks fifth in the Big 12. Junior T.J. Walz and senior Cameron Selik are tied for the team lead with five victories.

Scouting the Red Raiders

Texas Tech comes to Lawrence on a roll, having won seven of eight, including back-to-back Big 12 series against Oklahoma State (April 9-11) and Oklahoma (April 16-18).

The Red Raiders rank fourth in the Big 12 with a .310 team batting average and second with a .410 on-base percentage. TTU is tied for third in the country with 109 doubles. The Red Raiders lineup features seven regulars batting above .300, led by senior outfielder Michael Reed, who is hitting .340 with 15 doubles, and 33 runs scored. Freshman first baseman Barrett Barnes won last week’s Big 12 Player of the Week award, and is hitting .338 with a team high nine homers and 41 RBIs.

On the mound, Tech has a staff ERA of 6.34 which ranks 10th in the Big 12. Tech is led by junior right-handed pitcher Chad Bettis, who is being used as a closer/long reliever this season. Bettis is 5-3 with a 3.80 ERA and ranks third in the league in strikeouts (72).

Texas Tech was picked to finish 10th in the Big 12 coaches’ preseason poll, but have won three conference series already this year.

Last Time Out

Kansas freshman Thomas Taylor pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings, matching a career-high with eight strikeouts, while his battery mate James Stanfield produced the only run of the night in the second inning as Kansas shut out Missouri, 1-0 in front of 2,294 fans at Kauffman Stadium Wednesday night.

All Good Things Must End

Senior second baseman Robby Price was held hitless in Wednesday’s win over Missouri, marking the first time he has failed to record a base hit since a March 16 game at Tulane. Price snapped a 22-game hitting streak, which is the third-longest streak in KU history. During his streak, the senior second baseman hit .433 with 11 doubles, four homers, a .514 on-base percentage and 28 RBIs.

Price’s streak is the second-longest in the Big 12 this season, just four behind Kansas State’s Nick Martini’s 26-game streak.

Selik Settles In

Senior Cameron Selik has regained his early-season form in his last two Big 12 starts. The 6-foot-2 righty has allowed just three earned runs in his last two starts (1.10 ERA) after surrendering 12 earned runs in his first two Big 12 starts.

Selik opened the season with four victories in his first four starts, allowing eight runs in 25 1/3 innings. The righty leads the team with five quality starts. Not surprisingly, in his five quality starts opposing teams are averaging 4.8 hits per game against him; while in his other four starts, opponents are averaging 8.0 hits per game.

Taylor Takes Over

Kansas freshman Thomas Taylor has hit his stride in recent weeks. The rookie right-handed pitcher has not allowed a run in his last four outings, including his last three midweek starts.

Taylor pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings on Wednesday night against Missouri, allowing just two hits and no walks. He also matched a career-high with eight strikeouts. An incredible outing for a kid who grew up just a few miles from Kauffman Stadium in Overland Park, Kan.

During the month of April, Taylor has pitched 14 innings and allowed no runs on seven hits with 19 strikeouts, and no walks. Getting his walk total down has been the key for Taylor. In his first six starts of the season, he allowed 14 bases on balls.

Home Sweet Home

Kansas returns to the friendly confines of Hoglund Ballpark after nine-straight Division I games away from home. During that stretch, KU went 5-4. However, at home, KU has been nearly unbeatable, going 11-2-1 this season. Over the past two seasons, the Jayhawks are 36-5-1 at home, including series wins over Texas, Oklahoma State, Nebraska and Kansas State.

As a team, KU is batting .331 in its home games, compared to just .279 in its away contests. Kansas’ slugging percentage at home is .506 at home and .401 on the road. The Jayhawks have also pitched better at home, sporting a 3.77 ERA at Hoglund Ballpark, and a 5.64 ERA on the road.

Junior Brian Heere has been KU’s best hitter at home, batting .442 with 21 RBIs, while T.J. Walz is 2-0 with a 2.35 ERA in his two home starts.

Around the Horn

– Kansas hosts Texas Tech in a three-game Big 12 series this weekend. KU has played seven of its first nine weekend series on the road, but will conclude the regular season with 10 of its final 15 conference games at home.

– Kansas knocked off Missouri 1-0 at Kauffman Stadium Wednesday night, marking the third-straight year that the Jayhawks have won a non-conference game from the rival Tigers at the home of the Kansas City Royals.

– Wednesday’s win over Missouri marked the third time this season, KU’s pitching staff did not issue a base on balls.

– The Jayhawks have been a strike-first offense this season, scoring 112 runs in the first three innings of games, including 44 in the second inning alone. KU has also taken the first lead of the game 26 times this season in 39 games.

– KU’s bullpen has done an exceptional job of protecting leads late in the game this season. Heading into Wednesday, the Jayhawks are 21-1-1 in games where they’ve held a lead after six innings. KU’s relievers have posted a 4.05 ERA and are holding opponents to a .242 batting average this season.

– The 1-0 win over Missouri Wednesday night was the first by a KU team since 1983 when they topped Oklahoma by a 1-0 score on March 27. To put that in perspective, the Jayhawks have played 1,559 games since then and had lost six games by a 1-0 score more recently.

– The Jayhawks earned their first series win in Lincoln, Neb., since 1996 last weekend. Junior Jimmy Waters powered KU with four home runs, while senior Cameron Selik and freshman Tanner Poppe each earned victories on the mound.

– Kansas played to an 8-8 tie with No. 22 Texas A&M on April 3. KU rallied to tie the score twice in the final three innings. The game was declared a tie because Texas A&M had a 5 p.m. flight to catch out of Kansas City, and the teams had passed the agreed-upon 2:15 p.m. cutoff time for starting a new inning. Officially the series went down as a 1-1-1 split.

– The Jayhawks earned their first-ever series victory at Baylor March 26-28, taking two of three in Waco. Prior to the win on March 26, KU was 1-20 all-time against the Bears in Waco.

– The March 28 win over Baylor was a classic. The teams played 14 innings, which is the longest Big 12 game in KU history. The Jayhawk bullpen held the Bears without a base hit over the final 11 innings, and did not allow a baserunner after the bottom of the eighth.

– KU took two in a three-game series against then-No. 1 LSU March 12-14, marking the second-straight year the Jayhawks have defeated a top-ranked team. In 2009, KU swept a three-game series from then-No. 1 Texas.

– The Jayhawks have been solid in the field this season, recording a .975 fielding percentage – which is tied for the third-best in the Big 12 and 19th-best in the country. KU has committed the fourth-fewest errors in the conference (36). KU also ranks fourth in the league in double plays turned (33).

– Kansas has been plunked 63 times this season, which ranks as the 27th-most in Division I baseball this season. Junior Casey Lytle leads the team with 17 HBPs, which is just two away from the school record (Ryne Price, 19).

– Sophomore Jason Brunansky scored a pair of runs in Tuesday’s win over Benedictine without the benefit of a base hit. Brunansky has done a great job of reaching base this season, recording a .482 on-base percentage.

– Freshman catcher Alex DeLeon recorded a base hit in Tuesday’s game against Benedictine. The first-year catcher is hitting .235 in home games this season.

– Freshman Jordan Dreiling subbed for Tony Thompson in the March 28 game at Baylor, and collected three hits in Thompson’s place in the lineup, including a two-run single to break the game open in the top of the 14th inning.

– Sophomore Zac Elgie homered twice Tuesday, passing his home run total from a year ago in 13 fewer games. This season, Elgie is averaging a home run every 16.75 at bats.

– Center fielder Brian Heere was the only Kansas player in Wednesday’s game at Kauffman Stadium to record two hits or more. Heere’s 2-for-4 effort tied him for the team lead in multi-hit games with 18.

– After going hitless in his first five Big 12 games, senior first baseman Brett Lisher got back on track at Texas April 9-11, batting .417 (5-for-12) against the Longhorns with a solo home run and two runs scored.

– Right fielder Casey Lytle has done a great job of setting the table for the rest of the lineup. Lytle is reaching base at a .475 clip when he leads off an inning and has scored 36 runs – which ranks second on the team.

– Junior shortstop Brandon Macias recorded his first Kansas home run in Saturday’s win over Nebraska, and also singled. In 12 conference games, Macias is batting .318 with a .500 slugging percentage.

– Kansas catcher Chris Manship has been successful in the clutch this season, batting .439 with men on base in front of him, and .370 with two outs in the inning.

– Redshirt freshman Jake Marasco collected a pair of base hits in Tuesday’s win over Benedictine. It was Marasco’s first multi-hit game since a two-hit game against Baylor March 28.

– Senior second baseman Robby Price leads the team in two-strike base hits with 19 this season. Price extended his hitting streak to 22 games Tuesday with a double in a 2-2 count.

– Junior third baseman Tony Thompson missed the first seven weeks of the season with a knee injury, but is coming back into form. Thompson has hit safely in eight of his last 10 games.

– Junior outfielder Jimmy Waters has shown good plate discipline this season, drawing 23 walks, which are the second-most on the team. Waters OPS (on-base plus slugging) ranks second on the team (1.046) behind only Robby Price (1.060).

– Senior lefty Travis Blankenship showed signs of returning to form recently. The senior southpaw recorded a two-inning save Wednesday, protecting a one-run lead against Missouri. Blankenship has retired the last 14 men he’s faced, including five via strikeouts.

– Junior Scott Heitshusen pitched a pair of scoreless innings Tuesday against Benedictine, giving him five scoreless innings in three appearances this season.

– Junior Matt Kohorst has been difficult to hit this season, allowing just four hits in 11 2/3 innings of relief work. Kohorst has also allowed just one extra base hit in nine appearances.

– Junior left-handed pitcher Wally Marciel has been one of KU’s most reliable arms out of the bullpen. The junior has allowed just two earned runs in the month of April, while making seven relief appearances (1.54 ERA).

– Sophomore Colton Murray has excelled in bases loaded situations this season. Murray has faced nine batters with the bases loaded and allowed just one hit, while recording six strikeouts.

– Freshman Tanner Poppe recorded his first Big 12 win Sunday, holding Nebraska to one run on five hits despite throwing first-pitch strikes to just six of the 22 batters he faced.

– Senior Cameron Selik has retired the leadoff man in 10 of his last 15 innings pitched.

Up Next

Kansas will host Texas Tech in a three-game Big 12 series beginning Friday, April 23 at 7 p.m. Game two of the series will be at 6 p.m. Saturday, while Sunday’s finale is slated for a 1 p.m. first pitch.