Kansas Travels to Kansas State to Start Sunflower Showdown Series

May 3, 2007

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The Kansas baseball team faces Kansas State in a big three-game series beginning Friday evening in Manhattan, Kan. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. The final two games of the series will be Saturday at 3 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. in Lawrence. Saturday’s contest can be seen nationally on Fox Sports Net (Channel 36 Sunflower Broadband).<?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

Scouting the Wildcats

Kansas State enters the weekend series against Sunflower Showdown rival Kansas in seventh place with an overall record of 29-17 and 7-11 in Big 12 play. The Wildcats swept a brief two-game series with Chicago State during the week after dropping a pair to Nebraska in a three-game series last weekend.

Sophomore outfielder Byron Wiley leads the team with a .377 batting average, 57 hits and five home runs this season. Junior Brett Scott has a .306 average, 19 RBIs and a .444 on-base percentage.

On the mound, junior righty Brad Hutt has been the team’s best starting pitcher, posting a 7-3 mark with a 3.23 ERA, and a complete game shutout this season. Junior Daniel Edwards is KSU’s ace out of the bullpen. The 5-foot-11 righty is 3-0 this season with an 0.95 ERA and 10 saves.

Head coach Brad Hill is in his fourth season at K-State and has a record of 118-92 with the Wildcats. Hill’s team returns 17 letterwinners and five position starters from last year’s squad, which finished 31-20.

KU leads the all-time series with K-State, 156-153 with one tie. The Wildcats won an earlier non-conference meeting this season, 10-6, in Manhattan. The Jayhawks are 8-5 against KSU over the last five seasons, including 5-1 in Lawrence.

Last Time Out

The Jayhawks took two of three from No. 27 Oklahoma with a 9-4 triumph in Norman on Sunday. KU hit three home runs and turned four double plays. Senior Kyle Murphy led the offense, going 2-for-5 with four RBIs, while John Allman, Erik Morrison and Casey Larson all had two hits.

Get Your Radio On

All three games of KU’s series with Kansas State will be broadcast on KLWN (1320 AM) as well as on kuathletics.com. KLWN Sports Director Brian Hanni will call the action along with veteran play-by-play man Tom Hedrick.

Lights, Camera, Jayhawks

Saturday’s game against Kansas State will be carried live nationwide on Fox Sports Net (Channel 36 on Sunflower Broadband). This will mark KU’s third television appearance of the season. Kevin Eschenfelder will handle play-by-play duties, while Jack Lazorko will serve as the color commentator.

Movin’ On Up

With KU’s triumph over Oklahoma Sunday, head coach Ritch Price moved into sole possession of third place in all-time victories (167) at the University of Kansas. Price passed former KU coach Bobby Randall, who had 166 wins with the Jayhawks from 1996 to 2002. Price has 167 victories at KU and 383 wins in 12-plus seasons as a Division I head coach.

The Buck Stops Here

Sophomore Buck Afenir has enjoyed a break-out season behind the plate. In the recent series at No. 27 Oklahoma, Afenir went 4-for-12 with three doubles and a two-run homer. The second-year catcher, who hit .278 last season in a platoon role, is batting .293 this year with 10 doubles, six homers and 28 RBIs.

Esquibel Excels

Junior pitcher Andres Esquibel bounced back from a rough outing on Friday evening with perhaps his best relief appearance of the season Sunday at Oklahoma. The 6-foot-2 righty inherited a bases loaded jam with nobody out in the fifth, and let just one run to score on an RBI ground out. Esquibel went 3 2/3 innings and allowed just one hit to earn his team-leading sixth victory of the season.

Wally’s World

Freshman Wally Marciel found a groove during the month of April. The lefty made seven appearances last month and allowed just three earned runs in 24.0 innings, dropping his season ERA from 7.12 to 4.31. Most importantly, the 6-foot-2 lefty showed the ability to get ahead in the count and avoid walks. During April, Marciel walked only three batters and struck out 15.

The freshman, who moved into the starting rotation before the Texas Tech series, earned his first conference win of the season, and fourth overall, in defeating Red Raiders on April 22.

Road Warrior

Senior center fielder Kyle Murphy has show the ability to hit away from Hoglund Ballpark. The 5-foot-11 outfielder leads the team with a .356 batting average in road games. All four of Murphy’s home runs have come on the road, including a two-run shot in the eighth inning on Sunday at Oklahoma.

Murphy currently leads the team in hits (56) and is tied for the team lead in runs scored (39).

In the Nick of Time

Sophomore lefty Nick Czyz bounced back from an injury by earning his first conference win on Saturday at No. 27 Oklahoma. The 6-foot-0 lefty scattered six hits over six innings of work and allowed just one earned run. Despite tying for the team lead in quality starts this season, Czyz has just three wins.

Hit Me

Kansas players have shown a knack not only for getting hits, but also getting hit this season. The Jayhawks have been hit by pitch 73 times in the team’s 48 games, averaging 1.52 hit batsman/game. The team record for most times hit by pitch in a season is 91, set by the 2005 Kansas squad.

Juniors John Allman and Ryne Price are also challenging Ritchie Price’s school record of 18 times hit in a single season. Ryne Price has been hit 16 times this season, while Allman has been plunked 15 times.

Around the Horn

– Kansas matched a school record on Sunday against Oklahoma by turning four double plays. It marked the first time the Jayhawks had accomplished the feat since 1997.

– The Jayhawks also hit three home runs in Sunday’s game, marking the fourth time the team has done that this season.

– Sophomore catcher Buck Afenir hit in all three games at Oklahoma over the weekend, collecting four extra base hits. Afenir has raised his batting average by over 50 points compared to this time last year, and his slugging percentage by nearly 200 points from .325 to .520 through 48 games.

– Junior Ryne Price went 1-for-6 in the Oklahoma series, but used nearly every other way possible to reach base. The second baseman walked four times, reached on an error and was also hit by a pitch, raising his on-base percentage to .419.

– Junior Erik Morrison has been a clutch performer for KU this season. Though not an official stat, Morrison leads the team with six game-winning RBIs, including four in Big 12 games.

– Freshman Robby Price will be looking forward to KU’s long homestand in the month of May. This season, Price is batting .364 at home, compared to .248 on the road. The KU third baseman has shown more pop on the road, with six doubles and 13 RBIs away from Hoglund Ballpark.

– Junior John Allman’s solo home run to deep center field on Sunday marked the 100th RBI of his career. Allman is one of just two active Jayhawks with 100+ RBIs in his career.

– Center fielder Kyle Murphy has been a clutch player this year, hitting .356 with two outs and .347 with runners on base.

– Junior right fielder Brock Simpson collected his fourth triple of the season Saturday. Simpson is tied for the team lead in three-base hits.

– Junior Casey Larson enjoyed his first multi-hit game since the Texas series with a pair of hits Sunday. Larson is batting .308 against the Big 12 this season.

– Kansas lefty Andy Marks has allowed four runs or less in three straight starts, but is 0-3. Marks has received just two runs of support over his last three starts.

– Sophomore Paul Smyth made two appearances during the Oklahoma series and did not allow an earned run. The sophomore righty has not allowed an earned run in 21 of his 27 appearances.

Jayhawks in the Pros

– Tom Gorzelanny is enjoying his third season in the major leagues as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He is off to a good start with a record of 3-1 and a 3.06 ERA. This is Gorzelanny’s first full season as a starter for the Pirates. He is only giving up 2.2 walks per nine innings.

– Don Czyz struck-out the side in the eighth inning to earn his first hold of the season in a 7-5 win over Delmarva on Monday. Czyz has 12 strikeouts in 11 innings of work this year for the Greensboro Grasshoppers.

– Former Jayhawk Gus Milner went 2-for-4 and with a solo home run in a win over Lexington on Tuesday. Milner is now batting .300 with two homers while driving in 10 runs at Lakewood, a class A affiliate for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Afenir Named to Watch List

Sophomore catcher Buck Afenir has been named to the Coleman Company- Johnny Bench Award Watch List by the Greater Wichita Area Sports Commission. The award is given annually to the best catcher in NCAA Division I college baseball.

The 27-player list will be narrowed down to 10 semifinalists on May 17 with the winner to be announced on June 27. Afenir, a sophomore from Escondido, Calif., is batting .293 this year with 10 doubles, six homers and 28 RBIs.

Remembering the Victims

During KU’s recent series at Texas Tech, the Jayhawks and Red Raiders wore maroon and orange tops during batting practice to honor the victims of the tragedy at Virginia Tech on April 16. The teams also observed a moment of silence before last Friday’s game.

Up All Night

KU’s three-game series against South Dakota State was played at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis. The Jayhawks and Jackrabbits opened play on Saturday morning with a doubleheader at 1:30 a.m. The second game of the twinbill was suspended due to time constraints and completed Sunday morning at 3:30 a.m., prior to the third game of the series.

Oh, What a Night

On March 17, Kansas and eighth-ranked Texas A&M competed in a baseball battle of epic proportions. The teams combined for 30 runs and 33 hits in 11 innings, that ended after KU’s Erik Morrison, Dylan Parzyk and Justin Ellrich drove in runs in the top of the 11th and Jayhawk reliever Paul Smyth retired the side in order in the bottom of the inning.

KU held a 10-2 lead after the top of the fifth, but surrendered eight runs in the bottom of the inning. The Jayhawks took the lead twice before extra innings, only to be equalized again in the next half-inning. The Jayhawks’ top three in the batting order: Kyle Murphy, Robby Price and John Allman combined for nine hits, seven runs scored and seven RBIs.

Major League Bloodlines

Several players on the 2007 Jayhawk baseball team have relatives who have played in the major leagues. They include:
– Buck Afenir’s uncle, Troy Afenir, played in four major league seasons for Houston, Oakland and Cincinnati.
– Brett Bochy’s father, Bruce Bochy, played in the major leagues from 1978-87 for Houston, San Diego and the New York Mets. He also managed the Padres from 1995-2006, and is the current manager of the San Francisco Giants.
– Casey Larson’s father, Dan Larson, played in the major leagues from 1967-82. He played for Houston, Philadelphia and the Chicago Cubs.
– Joe Servais’ cousin, Scott Servais, played in the major leagues from 1991-2001 for Houston, Colorado, San Francisco and the Chicago Cubs.

Oh, Brother

A handful of Jayhawks have also followed older siblings onto the KU baseball team. They include:
– Nick Czyz’ older brother Don pitched at KU from 2003-06. Don was drafted by the Florida Marlins after last season.
– Preston Land’s brother, Sean, pitched for the Jayhawks from 2004-06. Sean was drafted by the Minnesota Twins at the conclusion of the 2006 season.
– Ryne and Robby Price’s older brother, Ritchie, also played at KU from 2003-06. Ritchie was drafted by the New York Mets last season.

Up Next

Kansas will face Missouri State in a non-conference game Wednesday at Hoglund Ballpark. First pitch is scheduled for 6 p.m. The contest will be a rematch of a game played in Springfield, Mo. on March 27, which MSU won, 7-2.