Kansas Travels to Oklahoma For Key Big 12 Series

April 26, 2007

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The Kansas baseball team hits the road to face No. 27 Oklahoma in a Big 12 series beginning Friday at 7 p.m. at L. Dale Mitchell Park in Norman, Okla. Saturday’s game will feature a 3 p.m. start, while the series finale will be Sunday at 1 p.m. The Jayhawks are looking to move up in the Big 12 standings in their final road series this season.<?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

Scouting the Sooners

Oklahoma enters the weekend series with Kansas having won two of three from K-State last weekend. The Sooners scored 32 runs and punched out 34 hits in the final two games of the set, both wins. OU is 7-6 in the month of April and 18-4 at home this season.

Junior infielder Aaron Reza leads the team with a .341 batting average, while junior outfielder Joe Dunigan is right on his heels with a .340 average, a team-high eight homers, 40 RBIs and a .590 slugging percentage. Freshman Aaron Baker also boasts a .325 batting average, a team-high 11 doubles and four round-trippers.

OU has used the one-two punch of sophomore righty Stephen Porlier and junior lefty Heath Taylor this season in its starting rotation. Porlier is 5-4 with a 3.44 ERA and a league-best 75 strikeouts, while Taylor is 7-1 with a 3.52 earned run average. Freshman righty Garrett Richards is the team’s closer with nine saves and a 3.57 ERA in 20 appearances this year.

Head coach Sonny Golloway has a record of 84-43 in three-plus years at OU. His team returns 13 letterwinners and five position starters from last year’s team which finished 45-22 and advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals.

OU leads the all-time series with KU, 137-81 with one tie. The Sooners are 8-5 against Ritch Price’s Jayhawks; however, KU won last year’s meeting at the Big 12 Tournament, 7-2, in Oklahoma City.

Last Time Out

The Jayhawks salvaged the final game of its three-game set at Texas Tech Sunday. After struggling with the bats for much of the weekend, KU broke out with eight runs on 11 hits in an 8-1 triumph. Junior John Allman led the way, going 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs, while senior Kyle Murphy went 3-for-5 in the game. Freshman Wally Marciel earned the win on the mound, scattering eight hits over 5 2/3 innings and allowing just one run.

Get Your Radio On

KU’s three-game series at Oklahoma will be broadcast on KLWN (1320 AM) as well as on kuathletics.com. KLWN Sports Director Brian Hanni will call the action.

Afenir Named to Watch List

Sophomore catcher Buck Afenir has been named to the Coleman Company- Johnny Bench Award Watch List by the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission. The award is given annually to the best catcher in NCAA Division I college baseball.

The 27-player list will be narrowed down to 10 semifinalists on May 17 with the winner to be announced on June 27.

Afenir, a sophomore from Escondido, Calif., is batting .288 this year with seven doubles, five homers and 24 RBIs.

Kauffman Game Cancelled

In a reoccurring theme this season, the Jayhawks’ non-conference game with Missouri scheduled for Wednesday at Kauffman Stadium was cancelled due to heavy rains in the Kansas City area. The teams tried to push the start time back, but were unsuccessful. Wednesday’s rain out marks the 11th time this season KU has had a game postponed due to inclement weather.

Wally’s World

Freshman Wally Marciel has found a groove in the month of April. The lefty has made six appearances this month, allowed just one earned run and 17 hits in 20.0 innings.

Most importantly, Marciel has shown an ability to get ahead in the count and avoid walks. During April, Marciel has walked only three batters and struck out 14.

The freshman earned his first conference win of the season, and fourth overall, in defeating Texas Tech Sunday in Lubbock, Texas.

Consistent Kyle

Senior center fielder Kyle Murphy went 3-for-5 and scored a pair of runs in the series finale against Texas Tech to raise his season batting average back to .315.

Murphy’s season average has not dipped below the .300 mark since he went 1-for-4 against Wichita State on March 14.

Since the beginning of conference play the following weekend, Murphy has hit in 20 of 24 games, including 10 games with two hits or more. He leads the team with 15 multi-hit games.

Marksman

Sophomore Andy Marks was a tough-luck loser in Friday’s 1-0 defeat at Texas Tech. However, the 6-foot lefty struck out four Red Raiders to give him 72 for the season.

Marks moved into a second-place tie with Texas’ James Russel for the conference lead in k’s. He leads Big 12 starting pitchers in strikeouts per nine innings, fanning 10.51 per game.

Hit Me

Kansas players have shown a knack not only for getting hits, but also getting hit this season. So far, the Jayhawks have been hit by pitch 70 times in the team’s first 45 games, averaging 1.56 hit batsman/game. The team record for most times hit by pitch in a season is 91, set by the 2005 Kansas squad.

Juniors John Allman and Ryne Price are also challenging Ritchie Price’s school record of 18 times hit in a single-season. Ryne Price has been hit 15 times this season, while Allman has been plunked 14 times.

Closing In

With KU’s triumph over Texas Tech, head coach Ritch Price moved to within one win of third place in all-time wins at the University of Kansas. Price is chasing former KU coach Bobby Randall, who had 166 career wins with the Jayhawks from 1996 to 2002. Floyd Temple holds the program record with 438 wins.

Around the Horn

– The Jayhawks held Texas Tech to a season-low five runs in a three-game series last weekend. The previous low this season was nine runs in the South Dakota State series.

– The Jayhawks’ bullpen did not give up a run in 8 2/3 innings of work. The trio of Andres Esquibel, Hiarali Garcia and Paul Smyth held the Red Raiders scoreless on six hits.

– Sophomore catcher Buck Afenir rebounded from a rough start to the weekend with a pair of hits in Sunday’s win at Texas Tech. Afenir has 10 multiple hit games this season, including five against Big 12 opponents.

– Senior Dylan Parzyk drove in a run in the ninth inning of Sunday’s 8-1 win. This should come as no surprise, as the senior backstop is batting .750 (3-for-4) in the ninth inning this season.

– Junior Casey Larson made his first start at first base this season in Sunday’s win over Texas Tech. Larson is the fourth different player that has started at first this year. The Jayhawks started three different first basemen last weekend in the absense of starter Preston Land.

– Junior Erik Morrison drove in the winning run in Sunday’s 8-1 triumph over Texas Tech. Though not an official stat, Morrison leads the team with six game-winning RBIs, including four in Big 12 games.

– Freshman Robby Price drove in KU’s only run in Saturday’s 3-1 loss to Texas Tech. During the month of April, Price is batting .354 with eight runs scored and eight RBIs.

– Junior John Allman scored a pair of runs in Sunday’s win over Texas Tech to become the 32nd player in KU history to score 100 or more runs in their career. KU’s left fielder is one RBI away from 100 for his career.

– Center fielder Kyle Murphy has been a road warrior this season, batting .364 away from Hoglund Ballpark with four doubles and all three of his home runs coming on the road.

– Junior right fielder Brock Simpson had two of KU’s eight hits in Saturday’s game. Simpson’s hits have come in bunches as he is fifth on the team in hits (40), and second in multi-hit games (14).

– Junior infielder Matt Berner doubled in Saturday’s game at Texas Tech. It marked Berner’s first extra base hit of the season and first hit in a conference game this year.

– Junior Zach Ashwood has done a good job of getting out of innings this year. The 6-foot-3 lefty has allowed a .200 batting average (12-for-60) with two outs this season.

– Junior Andres Esquibel has not allowed a run in his last four appearances, spanning 10.1 innings.

– Kansas is 6-4 in games started by Zach Ashwood this season, including 4-1 in Big 12 games started by the junior southpaw.

– Sophomore lefty Andy Marks leads the Big 12 with an 11.12 K/9IP ratio. He also has a 3.4 strikeouts to walks ratio, with 68 k’s and 20 walks this season.

– Sophomore Paul Smyth earned his third victory in relief April 15 against Baylor. Smyth leads the bullpen with three victories in relief this season and five saves.

– Former Jayhawk Tom Gorzelanny earned his third win of the season Sunday against the Los Angeles Dodgers. The 6-foot-2 lefty, who pitched at KU in 2002, went six innings, allowing five hits, three runs and a season-high six strikeouts. This season, Gorzelanny is 3-0 with a 2.05 ERA and 17 k’s in 26.1 innings.

– Former Jayhawk Brent Del Chiaro went 3-for-4 with two runs scored Sunday. Del Chiaro, who played at KU from 2000-01, is in AAA with the Salt Lake Bees.

– Another ex-Jayhawk, Sean Land, who played at KU from 2004-06, earned his first win of the season for Single-A Beloit last Friday.

– Jared Schweitzer hit his first home run of the season last Friday. The former Jayhawk infielder, who played at KU from 2004-06, is playing for Single-A Quad Cities in the St. Louis Cardinals organization.

Jayhawks Alter Schedule Again

KU’s game scheduled for May 1 against the University of St. Mary has been moved to Monday evening at 6:30 p.m. The game had to be moved up, because the NAIA school qualified for its conference tournament, which will begin Wednesday in Hutchinson, Kan.

Remembering the Victims

During KU’s recent series at Texas Tech, the Jayhawks and Red Raiders wore maroon and orange tops during batting practice to honor the victims of the tragedy at Virginia Tech on April 16. The teams also observed a moment of silence before last Friday’s game.

Oh, What a Night

On March 17, Kansas and eighth-ranked Texas A&M competed in a baseball battle of epic proportions. The teams combined for 30 runs and 33 hits in 11 innings, that ended after KU’s Erik Morrison, Dylan Parzyk and Justin Ellrich drove in runs in the top of the 11th and Jayhawk reliever Paul Smyth retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning.

KU held a 10-2 lead after the top of the fifth, but surrendered eight runs in the bottom of the inning. The Jayhawks took the lead twice before extra innings, only to be equalized again in the next half-inning.

The Jayhawks’ top three in the batting order: Kyle Murphy, Robby Price and John Allman combined for nine hits, seven runs scored and seven RBIs.

Up All Night

KU’s three-game series against South Dakota State was played at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis.

The Jayhawks and Jackrabbits opened play on Saturday morning with a doubleheader at 1:30 a.m. The second game of the twinbill was suspended due to time constraints and completed Sunday morning at 3:30 a.m., prior to the third game of the series.

Lights, Camera, Jayhawks

KU is scheduled to make three television appearances this season, including one national TV appearance. The Jayhawks’ game against in-state rival Kansas State on May 5 will be seen across the country on Fox Sports Net.

The Jayhawks appeared on Fox College Sports Central in a non-conference game against K-State on April 3 and on the same station last Friday at Texas Tech.

Major League Bloodlines

Several players on the 2007 Jayhawk baseball team have relatives who have played in the major leagues. They include:
– Buck Afenir’s uncle, Troy Afenir, played in four major league seasons for Houston, Oakland and Cincinnati.
– Brett Bochy’s father, Bruce Bochy, played in the major leagues from 1978-87 for Houston, San Diego and the New York Mets. He also managed the Padres from 1995-2006, and is the current manager of the San Francisco Giants.
– Casey Larson’s father, Dan Larson, played in the major leagues from 1967-82. He played for Houston, Philadelphia and the Chicago Cubs.
– Joe Servais’ cousin, Scott Servais, played in the major leagues from 1991-2001 for Houston, Colorado, San Francisco and the Chicago Cubs.

Oh, Brother

A handful of Jayhawks have also followed older siblings onto the KU baseball team. They include:
– Nick Czyz’ older brother Don pitched at KU from 2003-06. Don was drafted by the Florida Marlins after last season.
– Preston Land’s brother, Sean, pitched for the Jayhawks from 2004-06. Sean was drafted by the Minnesota Twins at the conclusion of the 2006 season.
– Ryne and Robby Price’s older brother, Ritchie, also played at KU from 2003-06. Ritchie was drafted by the New York Mets last season.

Up Next
Kansas will face the University of St. Mary in a non-conference game, which was scheduled due to the Jayhawks’ cancellation of an April 10 contest against Oral Roberts. KU will face the Spires at 6:30 p.m. Monday evening.