Jayhawks Begin Busy Week With Missouri State

May 8, 2007


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The Kansas baseball team will play host to non-conference foe Missouri State during the next-to-last week of the regular season. The Jayhawks and Bears will meet at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Hoglund Ballpark. <?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

Scouting the Bears

Since defeating the Jayhawks, 7-2, on March 27, Missouri State has fallen on hard times. The Bears snapped a 14-game losing streak with a win over Evansville on Sunday. The Bears are 5-15 in road games this season.

Junior catcher Kyle Paul leads the offense with a .325 batting average, a team-high 13 doubles and 29 RBIs. Junior right fielder Nolan Keane leads the Bears with eight home runs and a .315 batting average. As a team, MSU has a .275 batting average, a .400 slugging percentage and a .352 on-base percentage.

Junior lefty Ross Detwiler is the team’s Friday starter. Detwiler has a record of 4-4 with a 2.28 ERA and 85 strikeouts. Sophomore Matt Frevert is 2-1 with an 0.50 ERA and three saves out of the bullpen for MSU.

Head coach Keith Guttin is in his 25th season at Missouri State and has a record of 861-528 at the school. Guttin’s team returns 21 letterwinners and eight position starters from last year’s squad, which finished 33-22 and second in the Missouri Valley Conference.

MSU leads the all-time series with KU, 23-19, but is 11-11 in Lawrence. KU won the last meeting at Hoglund Ballpark, 19-7 on April 18, 2006.

Last Time Out

The Jayhawks fell to conference rival K-State, 7-4, in a nationally televised game Saturday at Hoglund Ballpark. Junior Erik Morrison went 2-for-3 to pace the offense, while sophomore Buck Afenir chalked up a two-run double in the first inning. Kansas used five different pitchers in the game, none of whom worked longer than 2.2 innings.

Get Your Radio On

Kansas’ midweek game with Missouri State will be broadcast live on KLWN (1320 AM) as well as on kuathletics.com. Sports Director Brian Hanni and veteran play-by-play man Tom Hedrick will call all the action.

Jayhawks Cancel Tuesday Game

The University of Kansas cancelled its non-conference baseball game scheduled for Tuesday against Rockhurst University due to a scheduling conflict.

Masterful Marks

Sophomore Andy Marks had K-State’s number through seven innings last Friday night, allowing just one hit and five base runners in his outing. The 6-foot-0 lefty retired the first seven K-State hitters, before allowing a one-out walk to Tyler Link in the third.

Marks proceeded to retire eight more in a row, before giving up the no-hit bid in the sixth on an infield hit by Link.

He walked three in his final two innings of work, but escaped trouble in both frames. With the seven shut out innings, Marks dropped his season ERA from 6.15 to 5.57.

Double Your Pleasure

Junior Casey Larson was the only player to collect two hits in last Friday’s game, with doubles to left center in both the fifth and seventh innings.

It marked Larson’s second straight multiple hit game, and third against Big 12 competition. The junior outfielder hit a pair of home runs off Texas ace Adrian Alanez, and also had a pair of singles in an April 29 game at Oklahoma.

Larson leads the Jayhawk regulars with a .323 batting average against the Big 12.

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.

Home Sweet Home

Perhaps nobody is looking forward to KU’s season-ending homestand than shortstop Erik Morrison. The junior is batting .379 in games at Hoglund Ballpark with a .652 slugging percentage and a .461 on-base percentage.

Those numbers drop to .226/.321/.297 in away games. Morrison is one of KU’s top power threats and has hit four of his six homers this season at home.

Movin’ On Up

With KU’s triumph over Oklahoma April 29, 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.

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 74 times in the team’s 49 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 17 times this season, while Allman has been plunked 15 times.

Around the Horn

– The Jayhawks were swept in a Big 12 series for the first time this season in a rain-shortened two-game set against K-State.

– Sunday’s weather cancellation was the 14th time KU has had to postpone or cancel a game this season. The Jayhawks also had to cancel Tuesday’s game with Rockhurst due to a scheduling conflict.

– Sophomore catcher Buck Afenir had a two-run double in the first inning of Saturday’s game. Afenir drove in his 30th run of the season, making him the fourth different Jayhawk with 30-plus RBIs this season.

– Junior Erik Morrison went 2-for-4 in Saturday’s game against K-State. Morrison is now tied for fourth on the team with 13 multiple hit games.

– Despite a slow beginning to the month of May, freshman Robby Price remains one of KU’s top clutch hitters. The Jayhawk third baseman is batting .338 with runners on base and .327 with runners in scoring position.

– Junior John Allman’s solo home run to center field on April 29 marked the 100th RBI of his career. Allman is one of just two active Jayhawks with 100+ RBIs in his career (Erik Morrison, 121).

– Center fielder Kyle Murphy continues to be Mr. Consistent. Since KU began its Big 12 schedule on March 16, Murphy’s season batting average has never dipped below .300. He is currently hitting .310 against conference opponents.

– Junior right fielder Brock Simpson continues to lead the team in RBIs despite a .251 batting average. The right fielder is batting .304 with runners in scoring position this year.

– Junior Casey Larson recorded his second straight multi-hit game last Friday with a pair of doubles. Larson is batting .356 against Big 12 pitching with three doubles and a pair of homers.

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

– Marks is 10 strikeouts away from matching the KU record for most punch outs by a sophomore. Eric Stonecipher set the program high with 88 in 1990.

– Kansas used five different pitchers in Saturday’s game against Kansas State, matching a season-high.

– Sophomore Paul Smyth remains second in the conference in appearances (29) and is one away from the leader in appearances in Big 12 games (16). Smyth pitched in both contests during the K-State series last weekend.

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 .282 this year with 11 doubles, six homers and 30 RBIs.

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 Kansas 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.

Jayhawks in the Pros

– Current Pittsburgh Pirate starter Tom Gorzelanny earned his fourth victory of the season last Thursday, going seven innings against the Milwaukee Brewers. Gorzelanny is 4-1 this season with a 2.97 ERA in 39.1 innings.

– Travis Metcalf hit his fifth home run of the season for the Frisco RoughRiders Monday night in a game at Midland. Metcalf is hitting .287 this season with nine doubles, five homers and 20 RBIs for the Texas Rangers’ double-A affiliate.

– Gus Milner went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI Sunday in Lakewood’s 14-2 triumph over the Lake County Captains. Milner is batting .301 with six doubles and 11 RBIs for the Philadelphia Phillies’ single-A affiliate.

– Les Walrond earned a victory on Sunday for the Iowa Cubs. The former Jayhawk allowed four runs over six innings in Iowa’s 6-5 win over New Orleans. Walrond is 3-2 with a 3.93 ERA in six starts for the Chicago Cubs’ triple-A affiliate.

– Mike Zagurski picked up his fourth save of the season Monday, retiring the side in the ninth of Clearwater’s 4-3 win over Brevard County. Zagurski is dominating the Florida State League with a 1.26 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 14.1 innings this season. He has not allowed an earned run since April 16.

Up Next

Kansas will face Chicago State in a four-game series beginning Friday at 7 p.m. at Hoglund Ballpark. Games two and three of the series will be part of a Saturday doubleheader, beginning at 1 p.m., while Sunday’s finale is also slated for a 1 p.m. starting time.