Jayhawks Face Shockers to Begin Five-Game Homestand
April 29, 2013
Kansas Game Notes
LEADING OFF: After travelling more than 1,500-miles roundtrip to play its last opponent, Kansas will keep things in the backyard this week when it plays a pair of non-conference opponents at home, starting with Wichita State Tuesday evening. First pitch for the 71st meeting between the two Kansas schools is set for 6 p.m. at Hoglund Ballpark, and attendance is worth double points for Rock Chalk Rewards members. The Jayhawks will make a return trip to Eck Stadium May 7.
ON THE AIR: KU’s meeting with the co-leader of the Missouri Valley Conference will be televised in the area by Metro Sports and in the Topeka and Wichita viewing areas on Cox Cable Channel 22. Bruce Haertl will provide the play-by-play and Shane Dennis will serve as analyst for the TV broadcast. The game can also be heard on AT&T Jayhawk All-Access. Veteran play-by-play man Tom Hedrick and Aaron Berlin will call the action from Hoglund Ballpark.
SERIES HISTORY: Wichita State leads the all-times series with Kansas 44-26, but the Jayhawks have been more competitive with the perennial power under head coach Ritch Price. Kansas has gone 9-10 against WSU in the Price era, including wins in four of the last seven games. WSU swept the season series a year ago, including a 6-4 decision in 16 innings at Hoglund Ballpark (April 10). Overall, the Jayhawks are 14-22 against the Shockers in Lawrence.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS: Kansas ran into one of the hottest pitchers in the country in West Virginia’s Harrison Musgrave Friday night and never looked comfortable against the Mountaineers staff while dropping three-straight, one-run contests over the weekend. The Jayhawks entered the weekend as the second-place team in the Big 12 Conference standings, with series wins over pre-season favorite TCU, No. 19 Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech, but find themselves in the middle of the pack at 9-9.
Kansas has relied on pitching, defense and small ball this season, but will look to get the bats going against non-conference foes Wichita State and Baker before resuming Big 12 play with a pivotal series against Baylor in Lawrence this weekend. Despite the series sweep at WVU, Kansas saw its team ERA drop to 3.49, the sixth-best mark in the Big 12 and opponents are hitting just .261 against the Jayhawks. Kansas ranks fifth in the Big 12 in team batting at .271.
The Jayhawks will hand the ball to sophomore RHP Robert Kahana against the Shockers Tuesday night. The Ewa Beach, Hawaii, native will make his fourth start of the season and has posted a 4-1 record and 5.02 ERA in 16 total appearances this season. Kahana had his best start against Iowa (April 9), when he scattered two runs over five innings in an 8-3 KU win. He started the third game of Big 12 series finales with Texas and Texas Tech, but has been most effective out of the bullpen. As a starter he’s 1-0 with a 7.71 ERA and four strikeouts in 11.2 innings. Out of the bullpen he’s 3-1 with a 3.18 ERA and 13 strikeouts in 17.0 innings. Junior RHP Jordan Piché took the loss in the series finale Saturday evening but went 4.2 innings in relief and has been dominant out of the KU bullpen. The Jayhawk closer is 5-2 with a miniscule 0.62 ERA in 18 appearances. He shares the conference lead with eight saves and has 32 strikeouts and just seven walks in 43.1 innings.
LAST TIME OUT: Kansas finally got a look at West Virginia’s bullpen in the third game of its weekend series but Pascal Paul and Corey Walter showed they were just as tough as the Mountaineers’ starters had been. Paul helped stymie a KU rally in the eighth and Walter shutout the Jayhawks into the 12th when Alan Filauro helped West Virginia walk-off with a 3-2 win and series sweep in second game of a doubleheader at Linda K. Epling Stadium Saturday. For the third time in three games, the outcome was decided by a single run with West Virginia (27-18, 9-6 Big 12) squeezing past Kansas (25-18, 9-9 Big 12) in a battle of pitching staffs. Three different Mountaineer relievers combined to keep Kansas scoreless into extra innings until a single by Filauro down the left field line pushed across the go-ahead run in the bottom of the 12th.
SCOUTING THE SHOCKERS: Wichita State enters Tuesday’s game with a 26-20 record, including an 11-4 mark in Missouri Valley Conference play. The Shockers are tied for the Valley lead with Missouri State. WSU’s pitching staff is again one of its strengths, with the Shockers boasting a 3.62 ERA – second-best in the MVC – and their pitchers have struck out a league-best 327 batters in 410.0 innings.
With the bats, Wichita State hits at a .288 clip, tied for third in the MVC, and have a little pop with 16 home runs, 10 triples and 76 doubles. Junior OF Garrett Bayliff leads the team with a .367 batting average and is second on the team with a .429 on-base percentage. Sophomore 1B Casey Gillaspie provides the bulk of WSU’s power with seven home runs and 12 doubles. Junior INF Erik Harbutz has stolen 11 bases in 14 tries and Sophomore SS Cody Bobbit is perfect in nine tries.