KU Hosts Missouri in Baseball Border Showdown

May 6, 2010

LAWRENCE, Kan. –

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Kansas vs. Missouri

After dropping back-to-back Big 12 series, the Kansas Jayhawks return to Hoglund Ballpark to host Border Showdown rival Missouri in a three-game series. The Jayhawks and Tigers will renew their rivalry Friday evening at 7 p.m., with the second game at 6 p.m. Saturday and the finale at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Sunday’s game will feature a Caring for Kids promotion where the first 500 kids 14 and under through the gates will receive a free Kansas baseball cap.

All three games of the Kansas-Missouri series will be carried on KLWN radio (1320 AM), with Brian Hanni and Tom Hedrick on the call.

Series with Missouri

The KU-Missouri series dates back to 1894 on the baseball diamond, with the Tigers holding a 195-125 edge. There have also been two ties. Kansas won a non-conference meeting between the teams earlier this season at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City. However, MU has taken two of three from KU in each of the last three seasons. The Jayhawks’ last Big 12 series win over Missouri came in 2006.

About the Jayhawks

Kansas returns to the friendly confines of Hoglund Ballpark after four-straight games on the road. The Jayhawks are 12-4-1 at home this season.

KU’s offense ranks sixth in the Big 12 with a .298 batting average and a .396 on-base percentage. Junior Brian Heere leads the team with a .398 batting average, 12 doubles, two triples and three homers. Junior Jimmy Waters has been KU’s top power hitter with eight homers and 49 RBIs along with a .329 average.

KU’s pitching has bounced back and ranks seventh in the Big 12 with a 5.17 ERA. Friday’s starting pitcher T.J. Walz leads the team with a 7-3 record and a 4.96 ERA with 71 strikeouts in 74 1/3 innings.

Scouting the Tigers

Missouri defeated in-state rival Missouri State Tuesday night to improve to 24-19 overall. The Tigers have won five of seven since dropping a 1-0 decision to KU on April 21.

Missouri’s offense ranks seventh in the Big 12 with a .296 team batting average and a .401 on-base percentage. MU averages 7.8 runs scored per game. Senior Aaron Senne leads the team and ranks second in the Big 12 with a .419 batting average with 12 homers and 47 RBIs. Junior Brett Nicholas is also batting .380 this season with nine homers and leads the team with 52 RBIs.

The Tigers’ pitching staff ranks fifth in the Big 12 with a 4.71 ERA and has held opponents to a .288 batting average. Relief pitcher Phil McCormick is tied for the conference lead with 27 appearances, and is tops among the Tigers with five victories this season. Junior Nick Tepesch has made 11 starts and is 4-4 with a 4.14 ERA and 50 strikeouts.

Last Time Out

Despite a pair of hits from junior Brandon Macias and 5 2/3 strong innings by freshman Tanner Poppe, Oklahoma State tallied three times in its final two at bats to score a come-from-behind victory for the second straight day. Pinch hitter Luis Uribe’s single in the eighth inning plated the eventual winning run in the Cowboys 5-4 triumph over KU in the rubber match of the three-game series Sunday at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.

Wonder Walz

Junior right-handed pitcher T.J. Walz was named Big 12 Pitcher of the Week on Monday, becoming the third Kansas hurler to earn the honor this season. Walz pitched into the ninth inning with a no-hitter on April 30 at Oklahoma State, and struck out a season-high 11 Cowboys.

Over his last two starts, Walz has held his opponents to just four runs on eight hits over 15 1/3 innings with four walks and 18 strikeouts. Most importantly, during his last two starts, Walz has retired the leadoff man in 13 of the 17 innings he’s started.

He will make his final three starts at home, where he is undefeated this season in three starts with a 1.99 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings.

Can You Heere Now?

Junior outfielder Brian Heere was one of the hottest hitters in the Big 12 over the last part of April. Heere has hit safely in 10-straight games, dating back to a 2-for-4 effort at Nebraska on April 18, and is batting .500 during his streak.

Heere has consistently been KU’s top hitter throughout the season, keeping his average above .340 since the beginning of the LSU series on March 12. During his 10-game hitting streak, Heere has collected multiple hit games in eight of them, including a four-hit game at Oklahoma State on April 30.

He ranks fourth in the Big 12 in batting average (.398), tied for third in hits (72), tied for seventh in walks (29) and seventh in on-base percentage (.472).

Hit Parade

Kansas collected 20 hits in the April 30 win at Oklahoma State, including four hits each by shortstop Brandon Macias, center fielder Brian Heere and third baseman Tony Thompson. The 20 hits were the most by a Kansas team since the Jayhawks collected 20 in a game against Texas A&M on March 17, 2007.

Hit Me

Kansas right fielder Casey Lytle was hit by a pitch twice in the series at Oklahoma State, giving him 20 this season. The 20 HBPs are the most by a Jayhawk in school history, passing Ryne Price’s 2007 mark of 19.

Lytle’s hit by pitch total ranks seventh in Division I baseball, and is just eight behind the nation’s leader – Vanderbilt’s Brian Harris. As a team, KU has been plunked 73 times, which is already the fourth highest total in team history. The program record of 91 times being hit by a pitch came in 2005.

Tony, Tony, Tony

Kansas third baseman Tony Thompson homered in the May 1 loss at Oklahoma State – his fourth round-tripper of the season and 30th of his career. Thompson’s home run total ranks fourth in team history and is just one behind former teammates Buck Afenir and Erik Morrison.

Around the Horn

– Kansas hosts Border Showdown rival Missouri this weekend. The Jayhawks are currently trailing in the M&I Bank Border Showdown competition, 23-11.5. The three baseball games this weekend will each count as a point in the competition between the two schools.

– The Jayhawks have not won a three-game series from MU since 2006, however, KU has taken series from the Tigers in Lawrence twice in head coach Ritch Price’s tenure.

– Kansas has been outstanding in home games this season, going 12-4-1 at Hoglund Ballpark. Since the beginning of the 2008 season, KU is 55-14-1 (.793) in its home games.

– The Jayhawks have been a strike-first offense this season, scoring 126 runs in the first three innings of games, including 47 in the second inning alone. KU has also taken the first lead of the game 29 times this season in 46 games.

– Kansas has battered left-handed pitching this season, hitting .328 against southpaws. KU has gone 8-3-1 when facing a left-handed starting pitcher, compared to 18-16 against right-handed starting pitchers.

– The 1-0 win over Missouri April 21 was the first by a KU team since 1983 when it topped Oklahoma by a 1-0 score on March 27. To put that in perspective, the Jayhawks have played 1,559 games since then and had lost six games by a 1-0 score more recently.

– The Jayhawks earned their first series win in Lincoln, Neb., since 1996 April 16-18. Junior Jimmy Waters powered KU with four home runs, while senior Cameron Selik and freshman Tanner Poppe each earned victories on the mound.

– Kansas played to an 8-8 tie with No. 22 Texas A&M on April 3. KU rallied to tie the score twice in the final three innings. The game was declared a tie because Texas A&M had a 5 p.m. flight to catch out of Kansas City, and the teams had passed the agreed-upon 2:15 p.m. cutoff time for starting a new inning. Officially the series went down as a 1-1-1 split.

– The Jayhawks earned their first-ever series victory at Baylor March 26-28, taking two of three in Waco. Prior to the win on March 26, KU was 1-20 all-time against the Bears in Waco.

– The March 28 win over Baylor was a classic. The teams played 14 innings, which is the longest Big 12 game in KU history. The Jayhawk bullpen held the Bears without a base hit over the final 11 innings, and did not allow a baserunner after the bottom of the eighth.

– KU took two in a three-game series against then-No. 1 LSU March 12-14, marking the second-straight year the Jayhawks have defeated a top-ranked team. In 2009, KU swept a three-game series from then-No. 1 Texas.

– Sophomore Jason Brunansky is batting .317 this season, including .400 (8-for-20) in home games.

– Freshman catcher Alex DeLeon recorded a base hit in the April 20 game against Benedictine. The first-year catcher is hitting .235 in home games this season.

– Freshman Jordan Dreiling subbed for Tony Thompson in the March 28 game at Baylor, and collected three hits in Thompson’s place in the lineup, including a two-run single to break the game open in the top of the 14th inning.

– Sophomore Zac Elgie homered twice on April 20 to give him four for the season, and pass his home run total from a year ago in 13 fewer games. This season, Elgie is averaging a home run every 19 at bats.

– Center fielder Brian Heere shows tremendous patience at the plate. Heere is second on the team with 29 walks, and is the team leader with 25 hits when he has two strikes in the count.

– Senior first baseman Brett Lisher recorded his second multi-hit game of the month on April 30 at Oklahoma State. Lisher went 3-for-10 in the series in Stillwater, Okla., with a double and a pair of RBIs.

– Right fielder Casey Lytle has done a great job of setting the table for the rest of the lineup. Lytle is reaching base at a .484 clip when he leads off an inning and has scored 42 runs – which is third on the team.

– Junior shortstop Brandon Macias has hit much better from the leadoff spot in the lineup. Since moving to the top of the order against Missouri on April 21, the Kansas shortstop is batting .342 (13-for-38) with two doubles, two homers and eight runs scored.

– Redshirt freshman Jake Marasco gave KU an 11th inning lead on May 1 at Oklahoma State with an RBI double. Marasco is tied for second on the team with 12 doubles this season.

– Senior second baseman Robby Price leads the Jayhawks with a .377 batting average against the Big 12 Conference. In his career, Price is batting .330 against conference opponents with 16 doubles, seven homers and 60 RBIs.

– Sophomore catcher James Stanfield has found a way to be a clutch contributor. The second-year catcher is batting .323 with men on base, and .348 with men in scoring position, over 100 points better than his season average.

– Junior third baseman Tony Thompson showed signs of returning to his 2009 form at Oklahoma State. The third-year infielder collected three hits to the opposite field in the recent series, and had a four-hit game on April 30 against the Cowboys.

– Junior outfielder Jimmy Waters went 5-for-12 in the Oklahoma State series with a pair of walks and a hit by pitch. Waters recorded a three-hit game in the May 1 loss to the Cowboys.

– Junior Scott Heitshusen allowed his first earned run of the season on April 25 against Texas Tech. Prior to that, the Kansas junior had not allowed a run in his first three relief appearances. He has allowed just eight hits and a walk in nine innings this season.

– Sophomore Colton Murray has excelled in bases loaded situations this season. Murray has faced 10 batters with the bases loaded and allowed just one hit, while recording six strikeouts. In the May 1 game against Oklahoma State, Murray induced an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded.

– Freshman Tanner Poppe pitched well enough to win in Sunday’s 5-4 loss at Oklahoma State. In his two Big 12 starts on the road, Poppe is 1-0 with a 2.13 ERA.

– Senior Cameron Selik recorded his sixth quality start of the season in the May 1 game at Oklahoma State. Since struggling against Texas A&M on April 2, Selik has gone 1-1 with a 2.42 ERA over his last four starts. His only loss was an eight-inning complete game in a 3-1 loss at Texas.

– Junior T.J. Walz won his 19th career game in a Jayhawk uniform on April 30, which matches Kevin Kerschen’s total – tying him for eighth in school history. Walz is seven victories away from the school record of 26 career wins, set by Jim Phillips.

Up Next

Kansas will face No. 20 Kansas State in a split three-game series May 14-16. The Jayhawks will host the Wildcats on Friday, May 14 at 7 p.m., before traveling to Manhattan, Kan., for the final two games of the series May 15 at 6:30 p.m., and May 16 at 2 p.m.