Kansas Baseball Hosts Tuesday Twinbill with Chicago State

April 27, 2009

Complete Release in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

Kansas vs. Chicago State

After taking two of three from Nebraska over the weekend, Kansas will host Chicago State in the team’s last midweek games at home. The Jayhawks and Cougars will hook up for a doubleheader Tuesday, beginning at 3 p.m.

The second game of the doubleheader will be broadcast on HD radio by KMXD (92.9’s HD2 station). Tom Hedrick will call the action from Hogland Ballpark.

Series History

This marks the third straight year that the Jayhawks have played Division I Independent Chicago State. KU holds a 9-0 record in the series, which dates back to 1993. Last season, the Jayhawks swept a two-game midweek series, winning 6-4 and 12-0.

About the Jayhawks

Kansas is receiving votes in the latest National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll. KU is 29-15 on the season, the fourth-best winning percentage in the Big 12 (.659).

KU’s offense is led by Brian Heere’s .386 batting average. Heere leads the Big 12 with a .494 on-base percentage. Sophomore third baseman Tony Thompson is the team leader in doubles (16), homers (12) and RBIs (54). As a team, the Jayhawks are batting .304.

On the mound, KU is paced by Brett Bollman’s 1.98 ERA, while sophomore T.J. Walz leads the team with five wins on the mound. As a team, KU has a 3.95 ERA, and opponents are batting .257 against the Jayhawks.

Scouting the Cougars

Chicago State enters the series with Kansas struggling – not only to pick up wins, but to play games. Since an April 11 game with Arkansas State, the Cougars have played just twice and had six games postponed or cancelled due to weather. CSU’s three wins this year have come against Ball State (March 15), Pepperdine (March 21) and Urbana (April 4).

Senior infielder Patrick Hernandez leads the Cougars with a .368 batting average, eight doubles and 14 runs scored. Senior catcher Matt Haug is the team-leader with two home runs and 19 RBIs in 34 starts behind the plate. As a team, Chicago State is batting .245 with a .335 on-base percentage and 21 stolen bases.

On the mound, senior righty William Lawrence is tied for the team lead in wins, and combined with Jonathan Carpen on a three-hit shutout victory at Ball State on March 15. Freshman righty James Tucker leads the team with 29 strikeouts in 62 innings this season.

Chicago State returns 10 letterwinners, including five position starters from last year’s team, which finished 8-42.

Last Time Out

Freshman Zac Elgie went 3-for-4 with a pair of RBIs, while fellow freshman James Stanfield had a big two-run single as Kansas rallied from an early hole to complete a doubleheader sweep of Nebraska, 9-4, in the nightcap Sunday at Hoglund Ballpark. KU won the first game of the twinbill, 8-2.

Can You Heere Now?

Sophomore Brian Heere has quietly been one of the best hitters in the Big 12 this season. The second-year right fielder leads the conference in on-base percentage (.497) and is second in batting average (.386), just three percentage points behind Kansas State’s Carter Jurica.

Heere got off to a slow start, batting just .237 over the Jayhawks’ first 15 games. However, since the team got back from its spring break trip to Arizona and San Diego, the Lawrence, Kan. native has been the team’s best hitter. Heere is hitting .442 with seven doubles, two triples, two homers and 31 runs scored since March 20.

Most impressive has been his ability to drive in runs, as he leads the team with a .410 average with runners in scoring position.

No Free Rides

During the 2009 season, the Kansas pitching staff has clamped down on giving up walks. The Jayhawks rank 11th in the country in fewest walks allowed per nine innings (2.78).

Juniors Brett Bollman and Shaeffer Hall have the best rates. Hall has allowed seven walks in 61 1/3 innings (1.03 per nine innings), while Bollman has five walks in 36 1/3 innings (1.24). This has been a big reason for KU’s improvement on the mound this season.

In 2008, the Jayhawks averaged 3.98 walks per nine innings and had a team ERA of 5.49. This year, the team has allowed 2.79 walks per nine innings and has an ERA of 3.95.

Welcome Freshmen

KU’s freshman class seemed to come of age in Sunday’s doubleheader against Nebraska. With the Jayhawks needing a win in the second game of the doubleheader to clinch their first series victory over the Huskers in 12 years, several first-year players stepped into the limelight.

Freshman Lee Ridenhour, who leads the weekend starters in ERA (3.29), pitched 6 1/3 solid innings, allowing just three runs on seven hits. It marked the first-year righty’s fifth quality start of the season.

Freshman Zac Elgie collected three hits, including a bases loaded single which broke the game open in the bottom of the eighth. Elgie is currently fifth on the team with a .343 batting average and has 18 RBIs in 19 starts.

Freshman James Stanfield subbed in place of an injured Robby Price and broke a 4-4 tie in the seventh with a two-run single to left field. Stanfield is batting .278 with seven RBIs in just 13 games this season.

Freshman relief pitcher Colton Murray came in and retired the first two hitters of the eighth inning. Murray made four appearances during the past week and allowed just one unearned run on one hit and recorded seven strikeouts.

Off on the Right Foot

Kansas has been extremely productive in the first inning of games this season, outscoring its opponents 48-15 in the opening frame. During the Nebraska series, KU scored first inning runs in each of the first two games.

Since the beginning of the Texas Tech series, Kansas has scored first inning runs in six of eight games, including a season-high seven runs in the first inning of the April 19 series against the Red Raiders.

Getting off to a quick start has been very important for the Jayhawks, as KU is 22-5 in games when it scores first.

Around the Horn

– The Jayhawks will play Chicago State in their last midweek games at home this season.

– The Jayhawks are 21-3 at home this season, including 8-0 in midweek games. Since the beginning of the 2008 season, KU is 39-10 at Hoglund Ballpark.

– KU has cut down its strikeout rate by a large margin over the past couple of weeks. Through the first 25 games of the season, the Jayhawks averaged 7.72 strikeouts per game. Since the beginning of April, the Jayhawks have struck out just 6.21 times per game.

– Through the last month of the season, the Jayhawks have also been good at scoring runs with two outs in the inning. In the Jayhawks’ 7-3 win over Missouri April 22, all seven Kansas runs were scored with two outs. Over the last 13 games, KU has 50 two-out RBIs, and has scored 45 percent of its runs (50-of-110) with two outs in the inning.

– The Jayhawks earned a doubleheader sweep of Nebraska on Sunday, marking the second time the team has swept a twinbill this season. KU’s sweep also earned the Jayhawks their first series win over the Huskers since 1997.

– The Jayhawks downed Boarder Showdown rival Missouri at Kauffman Stadium April 22 evening, 7-3, to improve to 5-4 in games played at major league ballparks. KU has won both annual meetings with MU at the home of the Kansas City Royals (also won 3-0 in 2008’s game).

– 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 0-for-3 in the final game of the Nebraska series to snap a streak of 13 consecutive Big 12 games with at least one base hit. Afenir has been one of KU’s top hitters in conference play, batting at .389 with 22 RBIs and a .556 slugging percentage.

– Sophomore transfer Joe Lincoln recorded a pair of RBIs in a 1-for-5 effort against Baker last week. It was the catcher’s first multi-RBI game.

– 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 went 2-for-4 with a pair of RBIs in KU’s 11-4 loss to Nebraska on Friday. Of Land’s seven multi-hit games this season, five have come against Big 12 opponents.

– Freshman Zac Elgie went 3-for-4 in the finale of the Nebraska series to raise his batting average to .343. Elgie’s average is the highest by a KU freshman since John Allman hit .350 in his first Jayhawk campaign.

– Junior second baseman Robby Price had three hits in the Nebraska series before being hit by a pitch in the third inning of the first game Sunday and leaving the contest. After a slow start, Price has hit .370 during the month of April with three triples and 22 runs scored.

– Freshman infielder James Stanfield filled in admirably for an injured Robby Price Sunday, going 2-for-7 in the junior’s absence with three RBIs and three runs scored.

– Despite a rough week in the field, junior shortstop David Narodowski did not let it affect his bat. The junior infielder hit .526 in five games last week (10-for-19), including a two-homer game against Baker on April 21.

– Sophomore Tony Thompson suffered his longest slump of the season, but busted out of it with a double in the eighth inning of the second game Sunday. Thompson’s 16 doubles are the most by a KU sophomore since John Allman had 16 two-base hits in 2006.

– Sophomore Greg Herbst went 1-for-3 on April 21 against Baker. Herbst has hit safely in each of his last four 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 recorded hits in each game of the Nebraska series, giving him hits in 12 of his last 13 starts. Since the end of March, Brunansky has raised his batting average by 53 points (.218 to .271).

– Sophomore Brian Heere has not only been tremendous at the plate this season, he has been the team’s most reliable outfielder. In 83 chances, Heere has yet to commit an error, and leads the outfielders with three assists this year.

– Sophomore Casey Lytle went 3-for-6 in Sunday’s doubleheader with Nebraska and scored a pair of runs. He also stole a base to give him the team lead with seven this season.

– Sophomore Jimmy Waters collected a big RBI single to extend the sixth inning for Preston Land on April 22 against Missouri. Since starting the month mired in a 1-for-18 slump, Waters has hit safely in four of his last six games.

– 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-13 in games at Hoglund Ballpark this year.

– Sophomore Brett Bochy recorded a pair of strikeouts Sunday against Nebraska to hold on to the team’s best strikeout rate. The sophomore righty has 36 k’s in 22 2/3 innings, or 1.59 per inning. Translated to a nine-inning game, Bochy is averaging 14.3 strikeouts/nine innings.

– Junior Brett Bollman held Missouri to just two earned runs on three hits over 5 1/3 innings Wednesday. Opponents are batting just .221 against the junior righty, the lowest average on the team.

– Junior Travis Blankenship slammed the door on Nebraska twice on Sunday. The junior lefty recorded the final four outs of KU’s 8-2 win in the first game, and then induced an inning-ending ground out to get out of a bases loaded jam in the second game.

– Freshman Kevin Burk pitched a scoreless ninth in Friday’s game against Nebraska. The first-year righty is 2-0 and has allowed just 17 hits in 21 2/3 innings.

– Junior Shaeffer Hall was victimized by his defense again in his Friday start. The junior has allowed a team-high 16 unearned runs this season.

– Junior Thomas Marcin pitched an inning of relief Tuesday against Baker. It was the righty’s first appearance since the April 1 game against Northern Colorado.

– Freshman Colton Murray was nearly flawless against Missouri on April 22, allowing just one hit in 1 1/3 innings of relief to pick up his second win of the season. Murray has not allowed an earned run in his last six appearances.

– Freshman Lee Ridenhour recorded his fifth quality start of the season Sunday against Nebraska, allowing three runs on seven hits over 6 1/3 innings. The freshman has been very good at stranding base runners as teams are batting just .210 with men on base against him.

– Sophomore T.J. Walz matched a career high with 10 strikeouts Sunday against Nebraska. The Omaha, Neb. native has beaten the team from his home state twice now in two starts, allowing just five runs in 15 1/3 innings to go along with 16 strikeouts.

Up Next

Kansas will travel to No. 9 Oklahoma for a weekend series in Norman, Okla. The Jayhawks and Sooners will open the series Friday at 6 p.m., and play Saturday at 2 p.m., and Sunday at 1 p.m. All three games will be carried on KLWN-AM (1320).