Kansas Baseball Faces Creighton Tuesday at T.D. Ameritrade Park

April 25, 2011

Kansas (20-20) at Creighton (27-10)

Tuesday, April 26 – 6:30 p.m.

T.D. Ameritrade Park – Omaha, Neb.

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Kansas baseball hits the road this week for four-straight games away from Hoglund Ballpark, beginning with a Tuesday evening contest against Creighton at the brand new T.D. Ameritrade Park. The Jayhawks and Bluejays will wrap up their 2011 series Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m.

Tuesday night’s game will be televised by cable station CBS College Sports (Channel 143 on Knology Cable in Lawrence). Fans can also listen to the game on KLWN (1320 AM) or online at www.klwn.com.

Series History

Creighton leads the all-time series with Kansas, 18-11, including a 4-3 extra innings victory earlier this season in Lawrence. The Bluejays’ win snapped a five-game losing streak to the Jayhawks, which dated back to 2004. KU is 3-7 all-time against Creighton in games played in Omaha and 5-1 against the Jays under head coach Ritch Price.

About the Jayhawks

Kansas is looking to continue its April surge, winning 10 of 16 games in the month. The Jayhawks are coming off a 4-2 win over No. 4 Texas on Saturday and have won three of their last four on the road. KU’s psuedo-RPI ranking is 61 heading into the week.

KU is batting .249 with 20 homers and is averaging 3.9 runs per game. Senior right fielder Casey Lytle leads the team with a .289 batting average and nine stolen bases. On the mound, KU has posted a 3.71 team ERA and is holding opponents to a .258 batting average. Senior T.J. Walz leads the staff with a 5-4 record, a 3.76 ERA and 67 strikeouts in 64 2/3 innings.

Scouting the Bluejays

Creighton enters Tuesday night’s game with Kansas at 27-10, having dropped the final two games of its series against Southern Illinois last weekend. The Jays opened the month of April winning nine of their first 11, but struggled last week.

Creighton is hitting .268 as a team with 26 homers and 206 runs scored. The Bluejays average 5.6 runs per game. Senior outfielder Trevor Adams leads the Jays with a .390 batting average and leads the Missouri Valley Conference with 11 homers and a .747 slugging percentage. Sophomore infielder Alex Staehely is batting .331 with 17 doubles and 24 RBIs in 37 games.

The Jays lead the Missouri Valley Conference with a team ERA of 3.30 and have held opponents to a .236 batting average in 37 games. The Jayhawks will likely face junior right-handed pitcher Brandon Koenigstein in Tuesday’s game. Koenigstein enters the week with an 0-1 record and a 7.84 ERA in five starts. The junior took a no-decision after pitching 3 1/3 innings and allowing three runs on five hits in the Feb. 22 meeting with Kansas.

Head coach Ed Servais is in his eighth year at Creighton and owns a record of 281-159 at the school. The Jays have a psuedo-RPI ranking of 50 heading into the week.

Last Time Out

Senior shortstop Brandon Macias led off the game with his second home run of the season, while the Kansas bullpen held Texas hitless over the final 3 2/3 innings as the Jayhawks salvaged the final game of the three-game set, 4-2, from the Longhorns at Hoglund Ballpark Saturday.

Kansas-Creighton Connections

– Kansas has two Nebraska natives on its roster in pitchers T.J. Walz (Omaha) and Jaydee Jurgensen (Lincoln).

– Jayhawk senior outfielder Jimmy Waters grew up in nearby Council Bluffs, Iowa. He attended Lewis Central High School.

– Creighton does not have any Kansas natives on its roster, however, senior pitcher Jonas Dufek (Millard West) and KU’s Walz (Skutt) both graduated from Omaha-area high schools in 2007.

– KU head coach Ritch Price and Creighton head coach Ed Servais have met six times at their respective schools. Price owns a 5-1 record against Servais.

Power Surge

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 16 homers and have a .272 batting average with a .421 slugging percentage. KU is also averaging 5.3 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 five players are batting above .300 during the month.

DeLeon Heats Up

Sophomore catcher Alex DeLeon is 10-for-25 (.400) in the current month with three homers and eight RBIs. Last week, DeLeon went 3-for-4 in KU’s win over Texas and blasted a pair of homers in the midweek triumph over Saint Mary.

The reason for DeLeon’s success is easy to spot. The sophomore has cut down his strikeouts considerably over the last month, fanning just four times in 33 plate appearances compared to 17 strikeouts in his first 55 plate appearances of the year.

Closing the Deal

One of the reasons for KU’s success lately has been the bullpen’s ability to hold on to a lead. The Jayhawks are 20-1 this season when the team leads after five innings, with their one loss coming against Creighton on Feb. 22. KU is also 18-0 when heading into the ninth inning with a lead.

Junior closer Colton Murray and freshman Frank Duncan have been spectacular this season. The tandem has combined for a 2.20 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 57 1/3 innings out of the bullpen. Either Duncan or Murray has finished eight of the team’s nine conference wins this year.

Diamond Notes

– The Jayhawks will meet Creighton Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m. KU will be looking for its first win against a school from the Missouri Valley Conference this season after going 0-3 against the league so far.

– According to BoydsWorld.com’s numbers, KU has played the 35th-most difficult schedule in the country and has a psuedo-RPI ranking of 60 following action this weekend.

– Four runs scored has been the magic number for the Jayhawk offense this season. KU is 19-2 when the team scores four runs or more and 1-18 when scoring three runs or less. The Jayhawks are also unbeaten when scoring more than five runs.

– Driving in runs in clutch situations has been paramount to KU’s success this season. The Jayhawks have 47 two-out RBIs, including 21 in the month of April. The Jayhawks are also batting .265 as a team with two outs in an inning.

– 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 3.67 and 20 quality starts, while holding opposing hitters to a .260 batting average.

– 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 sixth in the league in doubles (13). On the mound, T.J. Walz ranks sixth in innings pitched (64.2) and fourth in strikeouts (67). Closer Colton Murray is fourth in the league with seven saves.

– Several KU players rank among the league leaders in conference-only stats: senior Casey Lytle ranks 14th in batting average (.328), Brandon Macias is tied for fourth in runs scored (14) while Jimmy Waters is tied for second in RBIs (15). Pitching-wise in conference-only stats, T.J. Walz is tied for seventh in wins (3), seventh in innings pitched (40.1), second in strikeouts (42) and ninth in opponents’ batting average (.214). Freshman Frank Duncan ranks fifth in appearances (10) and Colton Murray is tied for fifth in saves (3).

Texas Series Leftovers

– Kansas earned a 4-2 win over No. 4 Texas to avoid the series sweep on Saturday. The Jayhawks have not been swept at home this season.

– The win marked KU’s fourth victory over a top 25 opponent this year and the team’s second over a team ranked in the top 10.

– KU closer Colton Murray recorded his seventh save of the year in Saturday’s finale. His seven saves tie him for seventh on KU’s single-season list with Paul Smyth (2007) and Brandon Johnson (2003).

– In Saturday’s win, KU’s bullpen held Texas without a base hit over the final 3 1/3 innings.

– Sophomore Alex DeLeon went 3-for-4 in Saturday’s win over the Longhorns, marking his first career three-hit game.

– KU improved to 14-9 at home this season, and 72-28-1 (.718) at Hoglund Ballpark since 2008.

Up Next

Kansas will travel to Lubbock, Texas to meet Big 12 rival Texas Tech in a three-game series beginning Friday, April 29 at 6:30 p.m. Saturday’s game at 5 p.m., can be seen nationally on Fox College Sports Central. The teams will play the finale Sunday at 1 p.m.