Kansas Baseball Travels to Little Rock for Midweek Affair
April 30, 2012
LEADING OFF: Kansas opens its final week of non-conference play with a trip to Little Rock, Ark., to battle UALR. The Jayhawks and Trojans will meet at Gary Hogan Field at 3 p.m., Tuesday afternoon.
ON THE AIR: Audio of the KU-UALR game is available free of charge on AT&T Jayhawk All-Access. A link to the audio can be found at kuathletics.com. Fans can also follow the action via GameTracker at kuathletics.com.
SERIES HISTORY: Tuesday’s contest in Little Rock will mark the 11th meeting between KU and UALR. The Jayhawks hold an 8-2 lead in the series, which dates back to 1992. Kansas has won the last six meetings, including a 5-3 triumph in Lawrence last season, which marked head coach Ritch Price’s 500th win at the Division I level.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS: Kansas is hoping to get back on track after suffering a rain-shortened, two-game sweep at the hands of No. 23 Oklahoma over the weekend. Prior to the series with OU, the Jayhawks had won five of seven. KU is 4-14 in true road games this year.
KU’s offense averages 4.2 runs per game and is batting .246 as a team, which ranks ninth in the Big 12. Senior C James Stanfield leads the offense with a .311 batting average along with three doubles and 10 RBIs. On the mound, KU has a 4.39 ERA, which ranks eighth in the BIg 12. Junior Thomas Taylor is tied for the team lead with four wins and has a 4.08 ERA.
SCOUTING THE TROJANS: UALR enters the midweek game with Kansas at 22-21 overall after taking two-of-three from Louisiana over the weekend. The Trojans are 9-12 in Sun Belt Conference play, which puts them in a three-way tie for sixth in the league. UALR is 13-6 at home this season.
The Trojans average 7.6 runs per game and are batting .292 as a team, which ranks first in the Sun Belt Conference. Senior OF Cameron Bentley leads the UALR offense with a .360 batting average with 15 doubles, four triples and 34 runs scored. Fellow senior OF Sean Bignall is among the nation’s leaders with 16 homers on the season and 54 RBIs, while batting .353.
UALR’s pitching staff has posted a 5.76 ERA, which ranks ninth in the Sun Belt Conference, while opponents have hit .290 against the Trojan pitchers. UALR has not announced a starting pitcher for Tuesday’s game yet, but likely starters are junior RHP Tyler Buckley or sophomore RHP Austin Pfeiffer. Pfeiffer is 1-2 with a 7.98 ERA in 15 games this year, while Buckley is 1-3 with an 8.17 ERA in six starts.
Head coach Scott Norwood is in his fourth season at the school and has an overall record of 91-114 with the Trojans and 380-254 in 11-plus seasons overall as a head coach. Norwood led the Trojans to a Sun Belt Conference tournament title and a trip to the NCAA Tournament last season.
LAST TIME OUT: Oklahoma starting pitcher Jonathan Gray held the Jayhawks to one run on four hits over six innings, while center fielder Max White collected two hits and five RBIs as the 23rd-ranked Sooners used a pair of big innings to take down the Kansas for the second-straight day, 8-2, Saturday evening in front of a season-high 1,682 fans at Hoglund Ballpark.
KUNTZ KLUTCHES UP: Junior SS Kevin Kuntz went 5-for-12 last week, which included a pair of multi-hit games. The junior, who has started every game at shortstop this season, has hit better in recent weeks after hitting a lull in the middle of the season. Kuntz was the team’s leading hitter through the first four weeks of the year, but stumbled at the end of March.
Since April 3, Kuntz has hit a solid .288 (19-for-66) with six multi-hit games and has reached base at a .365 clip. The junior is tied for the team lead with 23 walks and 23 runs scored.
DUNCAN DELIVERS: Sophomore RHP Frank Duncan is looking to join some elite company in Kansas history during the final weeks of the 2012 season. The second-year pitcher, who threw exclusively out of the bullpen last season, is on pace to become just the fifth pitcher in KU history to amass 100 strikeouts in a single year.
Duncan has a team-best 76 K’s through his first 11 starts with at least three starts to go. He would become the first Jayhawk to fan 100 hitters in a season since 2005, when Mike Zagurski set the school record with 112 K’s. Duncan’s season total currently ranks fourth in the Big 12.
ELGIE OUT TWO WEEKS: Head coach Ritch Price announced Saturday that senior 3B Zac Elgie will be out for at least two weeks with a broken finger on his left hand. Elgie sustained the injury while sliding into third base in the seventh inning of Friday’s 4-1 loss to Oklahoma.
The news of the injury was especially tough for the Kansas offense as Elgie had started to find his stroke in recent weeks. The senior was batting .316 in the month of April with five doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs. He had also hit a walk-off homer against Kansas State on April 25.
– Kansas travels to UALR for its final non-conference game of the season on the road.
– The Jayhawks are 3-6 in non-conference road games this season, winning games at Middle Tennessee (Feb. 17), Belmont (Feb. 18) and Minnesota (March 10).
– KU’s matchup with UALR will be the team’s third contest against a member of the Sun Belt Conference after a 7-3 win at Middle Tennessee in the season opener and an 8-6 loss to Louisiana on March 3.
– The Jayhawks are 19-10 against current members of the Sun Belt Conference, including 8-3 under head coach Ritch Price.
– Kansas senior 3B Zac Elgie hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning to knock off Sunflower Showdown rival Kansas State on April 25. It was the first walk-off homer by a Jayhawk since March 31, 2009, when Nick Faunce hit a game-winning round-tripper against Northern Colorado.
– Sophomore RHP Frank Duncan’s complete game victory at Texas on April 20 was the first by a Jayhawk on the road since Mike Zagurski’s nine-inning victory at Missouri on May 14, 2005.
– The Jayhawks earned a 5-3 win over then-No. 2 Texas A&M on April 15. It marked the highest ranked team KU has knocked off since Feb. 19, 2011 when the Jayhawks defeated then-No. 1 TCU.
– KU’s 16-inning loss to Wichita State on April 11 marked the second-longest game in school history and the longest since an 18-inning game against Oklahoma State on April 15, 1967.
– By taking two-of-three from Texas Tech March 30-April 1, Kansas won its first conference series since taking two-of-three at Missouri April 15-17 of last season.
– KU also snapped a 13-game losing streak in Big 12 contests with the March 31 win over the Red Raiders. The Jayhawks’ last conference win before that came on April 23, 2011 against Texas.
– KU has allowed just 33 stolen bases this season. The Jayhawks have also caught 22-of-55 attempted base stealers (40 percent).
– KU’s outfielders have recorded 16 assists this season after collecting 13 all of last season. Freshman Connor McKay leads the team with five assists, while sophomore Tucker Tharp and freshman Michael Suiter have thrown out four each.
– The Jayhawks’ 11-10 victory on March 21 over Southern Utah marked KU’s first walk-off win since April 2, 2011 when a bases-loaded walk in the 10th inning gave KU a 4-3 win over then-No. 19 Baylor.
– KU collected 19 hits in the 11-inning win over Southern Utah, which represented the most by the team since recording 20 hits at Oklahoma State on April 30, 2010.
– Kansas skipper Ritch Price coached his 1,000th game at the Division I level on March 6 against North Dakota. Price has a .516 winning percentage (533 wins, three ties) in 17-plus seasons at Cal Poly and Kansas.
– KU scored a season-high 10 runs in the first inning of a game against Mississippi Valley State on Feb. 26. It was the most runs scored in a single frame by a Jayhawk team since an 11-run inning against Tabor in 2007.
– Senior C James Stanfield has hit safely in 13 of his last 15 starts, which includes five multi-hit games during that stretch. Stanfield went 3-for-5 with an RBI in Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma.
– Redshirt junior Jake Marasco has dominated left-handed pitching all season. The junior is batting .441 (15-for-34) against southpaws this year.
– Junior IF Jordan Dreiling leads the team with a .459 on-base percentage and has reached base in 10 of his last 11 starts. During that time, he has collected nine hits and drawn 15 walks.
– Junior SS Kevin Kuntz collected a career-high four RBIs in the April 20 win at Texas. All four runs that Kuntz drove in came on two-out base hits.
– Sophomore OF Tucker Tharp recorded his second four-hit game of the season on April 25 and is tied for second on the team with eight multi-hit games. Six of his multi-hit games came in April.
– Freshman OF Connor McKay is second on the team with 17 RBIs in non-conference games this season.
– Over KU’s last 10 games, freshman OF Dakota Smith has hit .280 with a pair of doubles and four RBIs.
– Sophomore RHP Frank Duncan has been especially tough in the month of April. The second-year pitcher has a 3.34 ERA, has walked seven and struck out 34 in 35 innings pitched this month.
– Freshman LHP Jaydee Jurgensen walked a batter in the 10th inning on April 25, which snapped a string of 11-straight hitters retired, dating back to the Wichita State game on April 11.
– Junior Jordan Luvisi earned his first victory in a Kansas uniform on April 25 against Kansas State, retiring the only two men he faced to end the top of the 11th. After a disasterous start to the season, Luvisi has allowed just three runs in his last seven appearances.
– Freshman RHP Drew Morovick has been extremely effective against leadoff men. In the 33 innings that the first-year righty has started, he has allowed just six men to reach base (.182).
– Junior RHP Thomas Taylor has been dominant against right-handed hitters this season, allowing just 30 hits in 137 at bats against righties (.219).
– Freshman RHP Colin Toalson has turned a corner. After taking the loss at Creighton on April 3, Toalson has made six scoreless appearances and allowed just one run in his last 7 1/3 innings on the mound.
– KU’s roster does not feature any players from Arkansas, while likewise there are no Kansas natives on UALR’s roster.
– UALR head coach Scott Norwood coached for three seasons at Sterling College in Sterling, Kan., leading the Warriors to back-to-back Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference titles.
– UALR OF Cameron Bentley and LHP Elliot Velasquez are both natives of Kansas City, Mo. Both players graduated from Oak Park High School.
JAYHAWK PRO UPDATE: Kansas had 14 former student-athletes in major league organizations to open the 2012 season. Below is a rundown of where the former Jayhawks have landed:
– RHP Brett Bochy opened the year with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, the Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.
– LHP Sam Freeman is in his second year with the Springfield Cardinals, the Double-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.
– LHP Tom Gorzelanny is on the Washington Nationals’ 40-man roster, but is fulfilling a rehab assignment with the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs.
– LHP Shaeffer Hall is in his second season with the Trenton Thunder, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees.
– IF Brandon Macias opened the 2012 season in Single-A with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.
– IF Erik Morrison joined the Chicago White Sox organization this offseason and began the year in Double-A with the Birmingham Barrons.
– RHP Colton Murray opened his second professional season with the Lakewood BlueClaws, a Single-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.
– IF David Narodowski began his second season with the South Bend Silver Hawks, a Single-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
– IF Robby Price is in his second year of pro ball and began the 2012 season with the Charlotte Stone Crabs, an Advanced Single-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.
– RHP Cameron Selik opened his second year of professional baseball with the Potomac Nationals, a Single-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals.
– RHP Paul Smyth began his second year with the Midland Rockhounds, the Double-A affiliate of the Oakland A’s.
– IF Tony Thompson and RHP T.J. Walz are teammates again for the Stockton Ports, the Advanced Single-A affiliate of the Oakland Athletics.
– LHP Mike Zagurski was recalled to the major leagues by the Arizona Diamondbacks this week, marking his fourth season in the majors.
UP NEXT: Kansas returns home to participate in the Jayhawk Classic at Hoglund Ballpark, Friday, May 4 through Sunday, May 6. KU will take on Air Force on Friday (6 p.m.) and Saturday (3 p.m.), before facing Missouri State Sunday at 1 p.m.