Jayhawks Battle In-State Rival Wichita State in Midweek Series
May 2, 2011
Kansas (20-24) vs. Wichita State (28-19)
Tuesday, May 3 – Hoglund Ballpark (2,500) – Lawrence, Kan.
Wednesday, May 4 – Eck Stadium (7,851) – Wichita, Kan.
Tuesday, May 3
Wednesday, May 4
Kansas baseball will look to get back on track with a two-game midweek series against Wichita State. The Jayhawks and Shockers will renew their rivalry Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Lawrence, before the series shifts to Wichita for Wednesday’s 6:30 p.m. affair.
Tuesday night’s game will be carried live on MetroSports (Channel 37 on Lawrence’s Knology Cable). Both games can be heard on KU’s flagship station 1320 KLWN with Tom Hedrick and Kyle West calling the action.
Wichita State leads the all-time series with Kansas, which dates back to 1952, by a 42-24 count. The Shockers lead the series 21-13 in Lawrence and 21-11 in Wichita. WSU won the teams’ only meeting last season, 22-7, at Eck Stadium on April 27. The game scheduled to be played in Lawrence was snowed out.
Kansas head coach Ritch Price is 7-8 against Wichita State in his career, including a season sweep in 2009.
About the Jayhawks
Kansas is looking to bounce back from a tough stretch, where it has lost six of seven games. The Jayhawks are 14-9 at home this season and 4-12 on the road.
KU is batting .255 as a team with 23 homers and has scored 3.9 runs per game. Senior outfielder Casey Lytle leads the team with a .303 batting average with eight doubles and 10 stolen bases. The Jayhawks’ pitching staff has a team ERA of 3.82. Senior T.J. Walz is the ace of the staff with a 5-4 record and a 3.47 ERA.
Scouting the Shockers
Wichita State enters the midweek series with Kansas at 28-19 after winning five of its last seven, including a series win over Southern Illinois last weekend. The Shockers are 18-5 at home this season and 9-13 on the road this year.
Wichita State’s offense ranks third in the Missouri Valley Conference with a .289 batting average and 27 home runs. The Shockers are averaging 6.6 runs per game. Junior catcher/third baseman Chris O’Brien leads the team with a .404 batting average with 21 doubles, seven homers and 58 RBIs. Infielder Tyler Grimes is batting .314 and is tied for the team lead with 21 stolen bases.
On the mound, Wichita State ranks third in the Missouri Valley with a 3.36 ERA and has held opponents to a .243 batting average. The Jayhawks will a pair of freshman in RHP Zach Beringer (2-2, 4.32 ERA) on Tuesday and LHP Albert Minnis (1-0, 5.19 ERA) on Wednesday. Freshman right-handed pitcher Cale Elam is Wichita State’s closer and has four saves and an 0.91 ERA in 21 appearances.
Wichita State head coach Gene Stephenson is in his 32nd season and has an overall record of 1,752-614-3. WSU’s RPI ranking is No. 88.
Last Time Out
Freshman Tucker Tharp hit a three-run homer in the top of the ninth inning to give the Jayhawks their first lead of the day, however Texas Tech rallied for three unearned runs, capped by a walk-off walk to down KU 8-7 and sweep the three-game series at Dan Law Field Sunday.
KU-Wichita State Connections
– Kansas and Wichita State have a combined 21 Kansas natives on their rosters.
– Jayhawk junior Jordan Jakubov and sophomore Jake Marasco both grew up in the Wichita area and attended Maize High School. WSU pitchers Dillon Kerans and Ryan Hege are also graduates of Maize High School.
– Shocker freshman Albert Minnis is a native of Lawrence, Kan., and attended Lawrence High School. KU’s Jordan Dreiling and Scott Heitshusen are also from Lawrence, but attended Free State High School.
– Kansas pitchers Colton Murray and Conner Murray both played at Olathe East High School, while Wichita State’s Foster Vielock is from Olathe North High School.
– KU infielder Kevin Kuntz and Wichita State’s Walker Davidson, Tim Kelley and Chris O’Brien are all from Tulsa, Okla.
While offensive numbers are down across college baseball this season, production at the plate has gone up for KU’s catchers. Junior James Stanfield and sophomore Alex DeLeon are both hitting nearly 100 points higher than they did last season.
Stanfield leads all of KU’s regulars with a .341 batting average and has a .451 slugging percentage, while DeLeon is tied for the team lead with five homers and is batting .280 after batting just .143 in limited time last year.
Kansas sophomore Jordan Dreiling enjoyed a unique game in Sunday’s loss at Texas Tech. The Jayhawk utility man became the first Jayhawk to record four hits in a game since Brandon Macias and Tony Thompson both turned the trick against Missouri on May 7 last season. He also drove in a career-high three runs in the game, tying the game twice with RBI singles and stole two bases.
Dreiling has been extremely efficient in his limited playing time this season. The sophomore has 10 RBIs on just 12 hits this year and is third on the team with four multi-RBI games.
Casey at the Bat
KU’s most consistent player this season has been senior outfielder Casey Lytle. The fourth-year right fielder is one of two players to start all 44 games this season for the Jayhawks and has hit .364 over the team’s last 30 games.
Lytle had a team-best 13-game hitting streak in March, which helped him break out of an early season slump, and has continued to hit since then. The senior leads the team in multi-hit games, including eight in 21 Big 12 games. His .366 batting average in conference play ranks fourth in the Big 12.
– The Jayhawks will face their third opponent from the Missouri Valley Conference this season when they host Wichita State Tuesday night. So far, KU is 0-4 against “The Valley” dropping two games each to Creighton and Missouri State.
– Four runs scored has been the magic number for the Jayhawk offense this season. KU is 19-4 when the team scores four runs or more and 1-19 when scoring three runs or less.
– Driving in runs in clutch situations has been paramount to KU’s success this season. The Jayhawks have 56 two-out RBIs, including 25 in the month of April. The Jayhawks are also batting .270 as a team with two outs in an inning.
– While KU’s bullpen has gotten a lot of noteriaty, the Jayhawks’ starting pitching has been very good as well. KU’s starters have an ERA of 3.67 and 21 quality starts, while holding opposing hitters to a .258 batting average.
– The Jayhawks have run more than in previous seasons. KU has swiped 40 bases in 63 attempts after stealing just 29 bases all of last season.
– KU has been a dominant team at home this season. The Jayhawks are 14-9 at Hoglund Ballpark and have hit .271 in those games, while averaging 4.3 runs per game. On the road, the Jayhawks are hitting just .245 and averaging 3.5 runs per game.
– While the Jayhawks have struggled offensively on the road this season, senior Casey Lytle has excelled. Lytle leads the team with a .390 (23-for-59) batting average in true road games. Lytle went 6-for-10 with a pair of RBIs and four runs scored in KU’s recent series at Texas Tech.
– Several KU players rank in the top 10 in Big 12 statistics. Sophomore Alex DeLeon and junior Zac Elgie are tied for seventh in homers (five), while Elgie is also tied for fourth in the league in doubles (15). On the mound, T.J. Walz ranks sixth in innings pitched (72.2) and sixth in strikeouts (71). Closer Colton Murray is fourth in the league with seven saves.
– Several KU players rank among the league leaders in conference-only stats: senior Casey Lytle ranks fourth in batting average (.366) and tied for 10th in hits (26) and fourth in on-base percentage (.458), Brandon Macias is tied for seventh in runs scored (15) while Jimmy Waters is tied for fourth in RBIs (16). Zac Elgie ranks sixth in the league in doubles (seven). Pitching-wise in conference-only stats, T.J. Walz is tied for seventh in wins (three), sixth in innings pitched (48.1), fourth in strikeouts (46) and ninth in opponents’ batting average (.210). Freshman Frank Duncan is tied for second in appearances (12) and Colton Murray is tied for sixth in saves (three).
Texas Tech Series Leftovers
– The Jayhawks were swept in a three-game series at Texas Tech for the first time since 2001 over the weekend.
– It gave KU an 0-6 record against Big 12 teams in games played in the Lone Star State and dropped the Jayhawks to 1-8 in games played in Texas this season.
– The Jayhawks dropped the series opener in 10 innings, 3-2, marking KU’s fourth extra innings loss this season.
– Senior outfielder Casey Lytle went 6-for-10 in the series against Texas Tech, collecting four runs scored and two RBIs. Lytle recorded two more multi-hit games against the Red Raiders and leads the team with 14.
– Sophomore Jordan Dreiling became the first Jayhawk to collect four hits in a game this season. Dreiling collected four singles, including three which drove in runs.
– Junior first baseman Zac Elgie recorded a career-high eight total bases in the Saturday game against Texas Tech, hitting a two-run homer and collecting a pair of doubles.
– Senior pitcher T.J. Walz tossed a season-high eight innings in the series opener, which matched the school record for career innings pitched (310.1). He also set the school record for career games started in a Jayhawk uniform (47).
Kansas will hit the road for the second weekend in a row when it travels to No. 10 Oklahoma for a three-game Big 12 series. The Jayhawks and Sooners will meet Friday night at 6:30 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. Saturday’s game will be carried live on Fox Sports Net.