Kansas Baseball Faces No. 9 Oklahoma in Norman

April 30, 2009

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Kansas vs. Oklahoma

Following wins in seven of its last eight games, the Kansas baseball team will hit the road to battle No. 9 Oklahoma in Norman, Okla. this weekend. The Jayhawks and Sooners will face off on Friday at 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m., and wrap up the series Sunday at 1 p.m.

All three games will be broadcast on KLWN (1320 AM) with Tom Hedrick calling the action from L. Dale Mitchell Park.

Series History

Friday’s contest will be the 228th all-time meeting between the Jayhawks and Sooners on the baseball field, in a series that dates back to 1906. OU leads the series, 141-85, and there has been one tie. However, under Ritch Price, the Jayhawks are 10-9 against the Sooners, including series wins the past two seasons. KU swept Oklahoma at Hoglund Ballpark last year.

About the Jayhawks

Kansas is receiving votes in the latest National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll. KU is 31-15 on the season, and has the fourth-best winning percentage in the Big 12 (.674).

KU’s offense is led by Brian Heere’s .373 batting average. Heere is second in the league with a .480 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 .305.

On the mound, KU is paced by Brett Bollman’s 1.70 ERA, while three Jayhawks, inclduing Bollman, have five wins. As a team, KU has a 3.89 ERA.

Scouting the Sooners

Oklahoma has been arguably one of the biggest surprises in the Big 12 this season. After being picked to finish sixth by the league’s coaches in the pre-season, the Sooners stormed to a 17-3 record in their first 20 games. OU has consistently been near the top of the conference standings, and is currently in second place, just a half-game behind firstplace Texas A&M.

One thing the Sooners have been able to do all season is hit. OU leads the Big 12 with a .329 batting average and also tops the league with 77 homers. Junior Bryant Hernandez leads the team with a .382 average, nine homers and 49 RBIs. Senior J.T. Wise is right on his heels with a .381 average and 15 homers. Five of Oklahoma’s starting position players are batting above .320.

Oklahoma ranks seventh in the league in ERA at 4.78. Junior righty Andrew Doyle is the staff ace, with a 6-3 record and a 3.76 ERA. Doyle has made 10 starts, and has allowed a .259 batting average. Sophomore righty Ryan Duke has become one of the premier closers in the Big 12, posting 10 saves and a 2.96 ERA.

The Sooners return 18 letterwinners and seven position starters from last year’s team, which finished 34-24 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

Last Time Out

Junior David Narodowski recorded two hits and four RBIs, while junior Brett Bollman tossed six shutout innings as Kansas earned its second-straight doubleheader sweep with a 9-1 victory over Chicago State Tuesday evening.

Hot Hitter

Junior David Narodowski bounced back from an injury earlier this month and has regained his stroke. Over the team’s last 10 games, the Kansas shortstop is batting .429 with five doubles, two homers and 14 RBIs.

While Narodowski has served as the team’s lead-off hitter for much of the season, he has excelled at driving in runs. The junior is batting .375 with men on base, including .396 with runners in scoring position. He is third on the team with 31 RBIs.

Fire From the ‘Pen

Sophomore right-handed pitcher Brett Bochy struck out a career-high nine hitters in a five-inning relief appearance Tuesday against Chicago State.

Bochy has dominated opposing hitters this season and has 45 strikeouts – tops among KU relief pitchers. The sophomore right-hander is looking to become the 10th Jayhawk reliever to record at least 50 strikeouts in a season.

Bochy has been one of KU’s most reliable arms out of the ‘pen. Take away two rough appearances, and the righty has allowed just six earned runs in 26 1/3 innings (2.05 ERA).

Buck Blasts Into Top Five

Senior catcher Buck Afenirhomered in the fourth inning of the second game Tuesday against Chicago State. It was the senior’s sixth home run of the season, and 27th of his career, moving him into the Top 5 in all-time home runs at Kansas.

While he has shown flashes of power this season, the catcher has become more of a complete hitter, batting nearly 80 points above his career average.

Home Sweet Home

After sweeping Chicago State in a doubleheader Tuesday, the Jayhawks improved to 23-3 at Hoglund Ballpark this season. The 23 home wins are the most since the team won 25 games in Lawrence during the 1994 season.

Kansas has cleaned up at home this season, outscoring its opposition by exactly 100 runs (213-113).

Junior David Narodowski has been KU’s best hitter this season at Hoglund Ballpark, batting .453 in home games with 30 of his 42 runs scored coming at Hoglund Ballpark. Junior Brett Bollman has been the best pitcher at home, going 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA at Hoglund.

Around the Horn

– The Jayhawks will play No. 9 Oklahoma this weekend at L. Dale Mitchell Park. KU is 32-75 all-time in games played in Norman, Okla.

– Kansas has been great at home this season, and has improved their play on the road. The Jayhawks went 4-2 in road games during the month of April.

– 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 6.05 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 17 games, KU has 50 two-out RBIs, and has scored 43 percent of its runs (56-of-130) with two outs in the inning.

– Kansas swept back-to-back doubleheaders, taking down Nebraska and Chicago State in twinbills this week. KU has played three home doubleheaders this season, and swept all three of them.

– The Jayhawks downed Boarder Showdown rival Missouri at Kauffman Stadium the evening of April 22, 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 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 hitless in the final game of the Nebraska series snapping a 13-game hitting streak in Big 12 games. Afenir is second on the team with a .389 batting average in conference play.

– Sophomore transfer Joe Lincoln tallied his first multi-hit game of the season Tuesday against Chicago State. Both of Lincoln’s hits drove in runs, including a two-out double in the third inning, which capped a rally.

– 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 1-for-2 with a pair of runs scored against Chicago State Tuesday. Land is batting .276 over KU’s last 10 games with three homers and nine RBIs.

– Freshman Zac Elgie hit his second collegiate home run Tuesday against Chicago State. During his 2008 American Legion season, Elgie set a state record with 34 home runs.

– Junior second baseman Robby Price came off the bench in the first game of Tuesday’s doubleheader and drove in a pair of runs. It marked the first time Price has come off the bench in his KU career.

– 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.

– Junior shortstop David Narodowski has been an excellent late-game hitter for the Jayhawks. In at bats after the sixth inning, Narodowski is batting .386 with two doubles, a triple and 11 RBIs.

– Sophomore Tony Thompson has 12 home runs this season, the most by a Jayhawk since Erik Morrison hit 14 round-trippers in 2006. Thompson’s 12 homers are tied for the seventh-best single-season total in KU history.

– Sophomore Greg Herbst went 1-for-3 on April 21 against Baker. Herbst has now hit safely in four of his last five 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 went 1-for-3 with a pair of walks Tuesday against Chicago State. Over the Jayhawks’ past 10 games, Brunansky is reaching base at a .463 clip.

– Sophomore Brian Heere was the Jayhawks’ best hitter during the month of April, batting .444 (32-for-72) with six doubles, two triples, two homers and 29 runs scored. Heere also walked twice as many times (14) as he struck out (seven).

– Sophomore Casey Lytle went 2-for-4 in the Chicago State doubleheader Tuesday, and raised his batting average to .290 over KU’s last 10 games. However, Lytle does not have an extra base hit during that time.

– Sophomore Jimmy Waters went 1-for-3 with his fourth double of the season Tuesday. After getting off to a slow start, Waters has shown signs of pulling himself out of it, batting .286 in his last six starts with seven runs scored.

– Junior transfer Brett Lisher recorded his first multi-hit game in a Kansas uniform Tuesday, going 2-for-4 against Chicago State. Lisher has hit well against left-handed pitching, batting .444 against southpaws this season.

– Sophomore Brett Bochy pitched five scoreless innings Tuesday to record his fourth victory of the season. Since a rough outing against Baylor on April 5, Bochy has allowed just three runs (two earned) over his last six appearances, which spans 14 1/3 innings.

– Junior Brett Bollman pitched six shutout innings against Chicago State Tuesday, collecting a career-high eight strikeouts. In the month of April, Bollman went 3-0 with a 1.63 ERA and just three walks in 33 1/3 innings.

– Junior Travis Blankenship slammed the door on Nebraska twice on April 26. 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 inning Tuesday against Chicago State. Burk has now held opponents scoreless over his last 6 1/3 innings.

– Junior Shaeffer Hall leads the Big 12 in walks per game, averaging just 1.03 free passes per nine innings. Since walking three in his no-hitter on opening day, he has walked just four over his last nine starts, including just two in Big 12 games.

– Junior Thomas Marcin pitched an inning of relief Tuesday against Chicago State. Marcin has held opponents to a .208 batting average this season.

– 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 continue on its eight-game swing away from Hoglund Ballpark Wednesday, May 6, when the Jayhawks take on Wichita State at Eck Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on KLWN (1320 AM) with Tom Hedrick calling the action.