No. 23 Kansas Travels to Wichita State for Wednesday Showdown
May 5, 2009
Kansas vs. Wichita State
After taking two of three from nationally-ranked Oklahoma over the weekend, the 23rd-ranked Kansas baseball team hits the road for its final non-conference game of the 2009 regular season. The Jayhawks will travel to in-state rival Wichita State for a Wednesday showdown at 7 p.m. at Eck Stadium.
Wednesday’s game against the Shockers will be broadcast by KLWN (1320 AM) with Tom Hedrick on the call. Fans outside the Lawrence area can hear the game on the internet at klwn.com.
The Wednesday game between KU and Wichita State will be the 65th meeting in the series, which dates back to 1952. The Shockers hold a 41-23 edge in the series, including a 20-10 mark in Wichita. However, KU won the first meeting of this year between the teams, 8-0 in Lawrence. KU has not swept a season series from WSU since 2000.
About the Jayhawks
Kansas is ranked in three of the four national polls this week, coming in at No. 23 in the Baseball America poll and No. 24 in the Collegiate Baseball Top 30.
KU’s offense is led by Brian Heere’s .364 batting average, while sophomore third baseman Tony Thompson is the team leader in doubles (18), homers (14) and RBIs (62). As a team, the Jayhawks are batting .301.
On the mound, KU is paced by T.J. Walz’six victories and 3.45 ERA. As a team, KU has a 4.03 ERA and is allowing a .256 batting average.
Scouting the Shockers
Wichita State is experiencing a rare year in which the team is not in line for an at-large berth to the NCAA Tournament. At 24-22, the Shockers will likely need to win the Missouri Valley Conference to advance to the postseason for an eighth-straight season. WSU is coming off a home series loss to Indiana State.
Sophomore infielder Taylor Brown leads the Shockers with a .370 batting average. However, Brown and junior Clinton McKeever are the only two Wichita State players batting over .300. McKeever is tied for the team lead with five homers and has 36 RBIs. As a team, WSU is batting .273.
The Jayhawks will face Wichita State lefty Brian Flynn for the second time this season. Flynn is 1-4 with a 5.93 ERA in eight starts this year. In the March meeting, he went 3 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on three hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Wichita State freshman Remington Johnson has been a key relief pitcher, posting a 2-0 record in 10 appearances with a 4.91 ERA.
The Shockers return 14 letterwinners and seven pitchers from last year’s squad, which advanced to the NCAA Super Regionals and won the Missouri Valley Conference.
Last Time Out
Sophomore Tony Thompson hit a pair of three-run homers, but it was not enough to offset Casey Johnson’s RBI double in the bottom of the 10th that plated the winning run as No. 9 Oklahoma avoided a sweep with a 10-9 extra innings triumph over Kansas in a Big 12 baseball game at L. Dale Mitchell Park.
Tony on a Terror
Sophomore Tony Thompson earned Big 12 Player of the Week honors after belting a pair of homers in Sunday’s loss to No. 9 Oklahoma, and batting .429 during the series with the Sooners. Thompson’s two-home run day was his third multi-homer game of the season (which is tied for the most in the Big 12 this season).
Thompson is second in the conference in homers (14) and leads it in RBIs (62). Both totals are tied for the most by a Kansas sophomore, and rank in the top five all-time at KU.
Walz-ing Through the Top 25
Sophomore right-handed pitcher T.J. Walz earned his team-leading sixth victory of the season Saturday, holding No. 9 Oklahoma to just two runs on five hits over six innings.
Downing ranked teams has become a habit for Walz, who leads the team with a 6-1 record. During the current season, Walz has defeated then-No. 4 Arizona State (March 14), then-No. 9 Baylor (April 4), then-No. 17 Oklahoma State (April 11) and then-No. 9 Oklahoma (May 2). In his Kansas career, Walz is 10-2 with four career victories against teams ranked in the top 10.
He also leads the Jayhawks this year with 62 strikeouts.
Lee-N on Me
Freshman Lee Ridenhourwill get his second crack at Wichita State this season in Wednesday’s game. Ridenhour, who pitched eight scoreless innings against the Shockers in March, will be looking to get back on track himself after a short outing at No. 9 Oklahoma Sunday.
Perhaps a return to the midweek role is just what Ridenhour needs. This season, he has made five appaerances in midweek games (four starts and one relief appearance) and has compiled a 3-1 record with a save and a 1.55 ERA in 29 innings. Ridenhour has pitched well against his toughest competition, allowing just three hits to the Shockers on March 11 and holding San Diego State to one run on three hits in his only midweek loss.
Ridenhour also defeated then-No. 21 Arkansas on Feb. 24.
Since a two-game sweep at the hands of San Diego State in mid-March, Kansas has dominated its midweek competition. The Jayhawks have won 11 consecutive games played on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, including victories at Creighton and against Missouri at Kauffman Stadium.
Overall, the Jayhawks are 16-3 in midweek games, with the only defeats coming at San Diego State (two) and at No. 11 Arkansas, which is a big reason that the team is in the hunt for an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Junior David Narodowski has led the Jayhawks’ offense during the midweek games with a .429 batting average, seven doubles, a triple and two homers. Nine different Jayhawks have hit .300 or better in midweek games, while the team has an overall batting average of .319.
On the mound, junior Brett Bollman is 5-0 in midweek starts with a 1.72 ERA. The pitching staff as a whole has a 3.06 ERA and has allowed a .234 batting average in games during the week.
Around the Horn
– The Jayhawks will face Wichita State in their final midweek game of the regular season Wednesday at Eck Stadium. KU hasn’t won in Wichita since a 5-3 triumph on May 4, 2005.
– Since stumbling on the road early in the season, KU has been much better over the past month away from Hoglund Ballpark. KU is 6-3 in road games since the beginning of April.
– One thing the Jayhawks have stressed this season is putting up crooked numbers at least once a game, and limiting opponents’ big innings. This year, the Jayhawks have scored three runs or more in an inning 50 times, and allowed three runs or more 31 times.
– Kansas swept back-to-back doubleheaders, taking down Nebraska and Chicago State in twinbills last week. KU has played three home doubleheaders this season, and swept all three of them.
– The Jayhawks downed Border 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 11-9 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).
– 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 collected two hits and three RBIs in Saturday’s 9-5 triumph over No. 9 Oklahoma. Afenir is second on the team with a .365 batting average in Big 12 games with 27 RBIs.
– Sophomore transfer Joe Lincoln tallied his first multi-hit game of the season April 28 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 2-for-3 with two RBIs doubles in Saturday’s game at No. 9 Oklahoma. Land now has 45 two-base hits in his career, which is the fifth-most by a Jayhawk in the Ritch Price era.
– Freshman Zac Elgie hit his second collegiate home run last Tuesday against Chicago State. During his 2008 American Legion season, Elgie set a state record with 34 home runs.
– Junior second baseman Robby Price hit his third home run of the season in Friday’s 5-4 win at No. 9 Oklahoma. Price now has five career round-trippers, with Friday’s being the only one away from Hoglund Ballpark.
– Freshman infielder James Stanfield filled in admirably for an injured Robby Price on April 26, going 2-for-7 in the junior’s absence with three RBIs and three runs scored.
– Junior shortstop David Narodowski went 3-for-9 in the Oklahoma State series, but drew six walks and was hit by a pitch. The Kansas leadoff hitter had six runs scored and a .625 on-base percentage in the series.
– Sophomore Tony Thompson has been KU’s best hitter in away games this season. Thompson is batting .377 in road games with a team high .675 slugging percentage, six homers and 25 RBIs.
– 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 has also been a stellar hitter on the road, batting .313 away from Hoglund Ballpark with seven RBIs and a .389 on-base percentage.
– Sophomore Brian Heere leads the team with a .364 batting average, and is third in the Big 12 with a .469 on-base percentage. Heere has walked 32 times this season, giving him a walk every 5.8 plate appearances.
– Sophomore Casey Lytle hit his first collegiate home run in Friday’s 5-4 triumph over No.9 Oklahoma. Lytle becomes the 10th different Jayhawk to homer this season.
– Junior transfer Brett Lisher recorded his first multi-hit game in a Kansas uniform April 28, 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 April 28 to record his fourth victory of the season. Since a rough outing against Baylor on April 5, Bochy has allowed just four runs (three earned) over his last seven appearances, which spans 14 1/3 innings.
– Junior Brett Bollman pitched six innings of relief against No. 9 Oklahoma Sunday. The six-inning relief appearance is a career high for the junior righty, who leads the Jayhawks with a 2.42 ERA in road games.
– Junior Travis Blankenship rebounded from a rough appearance Friday, by pitching a perfect seventh frame in Saturday’s win at Oklahoma. Blankenship has dominated left-handed hitters, allowing lefties to reach base at a .180 clip.
– Freshman Kevin Burk pitched a scoreless inning April 28 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 1.07 free passes per nine innings. Since walking three in his no-hitter on opening day, he has walked just five over his last 10 starts, including just three in Big 12 games.
– Junior Thomas Marcin pitched an inning of relief April 28 against Chicago State. Marcin has held opponents to a .208 batting average this season.
– Freshman Colton Murray took the loss in Sunday’s extra innings game, but pitched well. The first-year reliever allowed just two hits in 2 2/3 innings and has allowed just two runs in his last seven appearances.
– Senior Paul Smyth returned to a familiar role of closer, earning two saves in the Oklahoma series. Smyth retired the side in order in the ninth Friday to protect a one-run lead and pitched out of a bases loaded jam in the eighth inning in Saturday’s win.
– Sophomore T.J. Walz held the top hitting team in the Big 12 to just two runs on five hits in the win over OU Saturday. Walz’ five hits allowed over six innings were the fewest by an opposing starter that pitched at least five innings since Texas Tech’s Chad Bettis allowed four hits over nine innings of April 11.
Thompson Tabbed Big 12 Player of the Week
Kansas sophomore third baseman Tony Thompson has been named the Big 12’s Player of the Week for the week of May 4. Thompson is the first Kansas position player to be honored with the weekly award this season.
Former Jayhawk outfielder John Allman was the last KU baseball player to earn Big 12 Player of the Week honors, when he did it on May 5 of last year.
Kansas will travel to Columbia, Mo., to take on Border Showdown rival Missouri this weekend, beginning Friday at 6:30 p.m. Saturday’s game will begin at 2 p.m., while Sunday’s finale will start at 1 p.m.