Jayhawks Host No. 14 Missouri for Baseball Alumni Weekend

May 8, 2008

Complete Release in PDF Format Get Acrobat Reader

Kansas vs. Missouri<?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

The Jayhawks will play host to Border Showdown rival Missouri in a three-game Big 12 series at Hoglund Ballpark this weekend. KU will meet the Tigers at 6 p.m. Friday evening and Saturday evening, and conclude the series at 1 p.m., Sunday. Kansas enters the three-game set in seventh-place with a one-game lead over eighth-place Kansas State and one-half game behind idle Baylor.

All three games will be broadcast live on KLWN Radio (1320 AM) with Brian Hanni and Tom Hedrick on the call. Friday’s game will be carried on student television station KUJH-TV (Channel 31 on Sunflower Cable). Live audio and video are available on-line at www.kuathletics.com.

The weekend series with Missouri also marks Kansas Baseball Alumni Weekend as several members of past Jayhawk teams will be in attendance. The Alumni Weekend festivities include a pair of social dinners, a golf outing and a roast of former Jayhawk head coach Floyd Temple.

The Series vs. Missouri

The Tigers lead the all-time series with Kansas 191-121 with two ties. MU also leads in games played in Lawrence 72-47, however, the Jayhawks have taken each of the last two series played at Hoglund Ballpark. Kansas won a non-conference meeting with the Tigers on April 29 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo., 3-0. It was the Jayhawks’ first shutout in the series since 2000. Kansas head coach Ritch Price is 7-10 against MU.

Scouting the Tigers

Both Kansas and Missouri enter the weekend series on a roll. The Jayhawks have reeled off four-straight victories beginning with the 3-0 win over the Tigers at Kauffman Stadium, while MU has won three of its last four, taking two of three from K-State last weekend. Mizzou is 7-9 in road games and 3-6 in Big 12 road contests this season.

Sophomore Aaron Senne and freshman Andrew Thigpen are tied for the team lead in batting average at .361. Thigpen has four doubles and 11 RBIs, while Senne has 11 homers and is tied for the team-lead with 55 RBIs. Senior Jacob Priday also has 55 RBIs and leads the conference with 15 homers.

Mizzou brings an impressive rotation to Lawrence anchored by junior Aaron Crow. The 6-foot-3 righty is 10-0 with a 3.08 ERA and 92 strikeouts to pace the Big 12. The Tigers have three relief pitchers with multiple saves as Scooter Hicks, Nick Tepesch and Rick Zagone have shared the closer’s role this season.

Head coach Tim Jamieson is in his 14th season at MU and has a record of 473-323-2 at the school. Jamieson’s team returns 16 lettermen and six position starters from last year’s squad, which advanced to the NCAA Tournament.

Last Time Out

Sophomore Robby Price collected three hits, while freshman T.J. Walz scattered nine hits over 6 2/3 innings as Kansas completed a series sweep over Oklahoma for the first time in nearly 30 years with a 9-4 triumph over the Sooners Sunday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark.

Noting the Jayhawks

– Kansas faces Missouri in another chapter of the Border Showdown. The three-game baseball series will be worth three points in the challenge between the rival schools. MU clinched the series win for the 2007-08 athletic season with three points at the Big 12 women’s golf championship and leads the showdown, 21-13.

– Kansas head coach Ritch Price earned his 200th victory as the Jayhawks’ skipper May 2, downing Oklahoma, 17-15. Price becomes the third KU coach to amass 200 wins at the school and does it in 365 games, faster than both Dave Bingham (378 games) and Floyd Temple (441 games).

– The Jayhawks made history with their three-game sweep of Oklahoma last weekend. Kansas swept the Sooners for the first time in a season series since 1979. KU also scored 39 runs in the series, the most a Jayhawk team has ever scored in a three-game Big 12 series.

– The Jayhawks’ win on May 2 was one for the record books. KU trailed by 11-5 and then 15-11 entering the bottom of the eighth, but scored six runs in the inning to complete a miraculous comeback. Coming from behind is nothing new for KU this year as the Jayhawks have rallied from five-run deficits to win three different games this season: vs. Dartmouth (March 20), vs. Northwestern (March 23) and against Missouri State (April 16).

– KU’s 3-0 shutout of 14th-ranked Missouri on April 29 marked the program’s first blanking of a nationally ranked opponent in 20 years. The last time the Jayhawks held a nationally ranked team scoreless was on May 7, 1988, when KU shut out then-No. 16 Oklahoma, 3-0.

– KU pitchers have proven to be very good at erasing base runners this season. The Jayhawks have picked 12 men off base, including two each by Nick Czyz, Shaeffer Hall, Sam Freeman and T.J. Walz. The 12 men picked off ranks as the top total in Ritch Price’s tenure at KU and the most since the Jayhawks collected 23 runners picked off in 2002.

– Junior catcher Buck Afenir broke out of a 1-for-26 slump on May 2, driving in the winning runs with a single in the eighth inning. After a six-hit weekend in Nebraska, the Kansas catcher had hit the skids. However, after the game-winning hit Friday, Afenir finished the weekend 3-for-9 with his eighth home run of the season.

– Senior John Allman became the fourth different Jayhawk to collect four hits in a game this season with a 4-for-5 effort against Oklahoma May 3. The Kansas left fielder finished a triple shy of hitting for the cycle, collecting two singles, a double, a home run and three RBIs.

– Utility infielder Matt Berner enjoyed a career game April 15 against Baker. The senior went 3-for-3 with three runs batted in as KU scored an 11-6 triumph. The three hits and three RBIs were both career highs for Berner.

– Senior Justin Ellrich became the first Jayhawk to collect a pinch hit homer this season with a seventh inning round-tripper against Baylor on April 5. KU’s last pinch hit home run came on March 21, 2007, by Eric Snowden against Northern Colorado.

– Junior Nick Faunce hit his second home run of the season in the May 3 game against OU, giving KU a four-run lead. Faunce has platooned with Casey Larson lately and has made the most of his opportunities. Faunce is 3-for-6 (.500) with a home run and four RBIs in games that he does not start.

– Freshman Brian Heere earned his second career start April 15 against Baker and scored KU’s first run of the game after drawing a leadoff walk.

– Despite just two hits against Oklahoma last week, junior Preston Land reached base seven times and scored five runs. Land is batting .238 this season, but has drawn a team-high 32 walks to give him a .375 on-base percentage.

– Senior Casey Larson went 7-for-12 in the Oklahoma series, including 6-for-8 in the first two games. Despite batting leadoff, the Kansas center fielder has been one of the team’s best at driving in runs. He is batting .350 with men on base, including two hits in four at bats with the bases loaded.

– Senior Erik Morrison continues to surge at the end of the season. The Kansas shortstop is batting .342 over his last 10 games with six doubles and a homer in that stretch. Morrison went 6-for-13 in the Oklahoma series and is batting .325 against the conference this year.

– Sophomore Robby Price swung a hot bat during the Oklahoma series. The KU second baseman went 7-for-16 in the series with a triple, a home run and five RBIs. He is batting .313 in the Big 12 this season.

– Senior Ryne Price hit two home runs over the past week to give him a career high 11 this season, and 35 in his career. Price’s 11 round-trippers are the most since Erik Morrison hit 14 in 2006.

– Senior Joe Southers recorded a hit and two RBIs on April 15 against Baker. It was the senior catcher’s second multi-RBI game of the season and first since March 9.

– Freshman Tony Thompson did not make an out in the Friday evening game against Oklahoma, going 3-for-3 with a walk and his fourth home run of the season. Thompson is another Jayhawk who has come on strong in conference play, batting .296 against Big 12 opponents compared to .258 overall.

– Freshman Jimmy Waters enjoyed a break-out weekend against Oklahoma. The first-year player became the fifth different Jayhawk to drive in five runs or more in a game this season with his five-RBI effort. Over his last six games, Waters is 9-for-20 with three doubles, a home run and six RBIs.

– Freshman Brett Bochy pitched an inning and a third Friday against Oklahoma and allowed a pair of runs. It marked the first runs the right-hander has given up since a March 28 appearance against Texas A&M.

– Junior Nick Czyz will make his 34th start in a Jayhawk uniform this Friday evening against Missouri, matching him for the 10th most starts in school history with Steve Renko III, who played from 1988-90. It’s likely Czyz could move into a tie for seventh in career starts by year’s end.

– Senior Andres Esquibel ran into trouble in the middle innings again Saturday against Oklahoma. Esquibel has a 4.21 ERA and a .260 batting average against in the first three innings of his starts, and an 8.76 ERA with a .282 batting average against in the middle innings.

– Junior Sam Freeman came on in the May 4 game against Oklahoma and retired left-hander Aaron Baker to end the seventh inning. Freeman earned his first hold of the season with that out.

– Senior Hiarali Garcia recorded three strikeouts in 1 1/3 innings of work Friday against Oklahoma. Over his past four outings, Garcia has seven K’s.

– Sophomore Shaeffer Hall enjoyed the best start of his Kansas career April 29 against Missouri. The 6-foot-1 lefty held the 14th-ranked Tigers scoreless over seven innings, allowing five hits with four strikeouts. He also earned a win, pitching three innings of relief Saturday against Oklahoma.

– Junior Daniel Manos made a scoreless appearance April 15 against Baker. Manos has allowed runs in just one of his six appearances this season.

– Sophomore Thomas Marcin had a pair of scoreless appearances at No. 7 Wichita State (April 22) and No. 13 Oklahoma State (April 26). The 6-foot-3 sophomore has not allowed a run since March 21 against Ohio State and has given up just four hits in a five-inning span since then.

– Junior Paul Smyth had a busy week for KU, picking up a win and three saves in four appearances. Smyth’s save on May 4 versus Oklahoma was his 10th of the season. He became just the fourth KU relief pitcher to record 10 or more saves in a season.

– Freshman T.J. Walz earned his fourth victory of the season Sunday against Oklahoma. As a starting pitcher this season, Walz is 3-0 with a 3.38 ERA with just nine walks in 29 1/3 innings pitched.

Allman Named Big 12 Player of the Week

Kansas senior left fielder John Allman was named the Big 12 Player of the Week on May 5. The 6-foot-2 outfielder becomes the first Jayhawk selected as the conference’s baseball player of the week since 2006.

Allman, a senior from St. Louis, Mo., hit .500 during this past week, leading the Jayhawks to a non-conference win over No. 14 Missouri and a sweep of conference foe Oklahoma. The senior outfielder collected eight hits in 16 at-bats, collecting a pair of doubles, a home run and six RBIs.

He went 3-for-4 in the April 29 game against Missouri, collecting a pair of important RBIs with an eighth-inning single in KU’s 3-0 triumph over the Tigers. On Saturday, he became the fourth different Jayhawk to record four hits in a game, helping KU defeat the Sooners, 13-10. The outfielder had two singles, a double and a home run in the game.

Rookie Success

Kansas freshmen Tony Thompson and Jimmy Waters enjoyed perhaps their best weekends of the season against Oklahoma. The tandem, which hit at the bottom of the batting order, combined to go 11-for-21 (.524) with two doubles, two homers, 10 RBIs and nine runs scored.

Thompson, who started the season 3-for-21, is batting .300 since April 1 and has four home runs – the most by a freshman since Preston Land hit a record nine round-trippers in 2006. The first-year third baseman also made a handful of outstanding plays in the field over the weekend.

Waters, who also got off to a slow start, has surged since homering on April 13 against Texas Tech. The freshman drove in five runs in Friday’s game against OU and snapped a five-game hitting streak on Sunday.

Home Sweet Home

Kansas will play five of its final seven regular-season games at Hoglund Ballpark, where it has been extremely successful. The Jayhawks are 17-4 in home contests this year and are hitting .321 at Hoglund Ballpark this season, compared to .241 on the road.

The Jayhawks have also pitched better at home this year, posting a 4.43 ERA in home games and a 7.10 ERA on the road. KU’s starting rotation of Nick Czyz (2-0, 4.50 ERA), Andres Esquibel (2-1, 4.15 ERA) and T.J. Walz (2-0, 2.39 ERA) have a combined 6-1 record with a 3.87 ERA at home in 2008.

KU’s best hitter at Hoglund this season has been John Allman, who is batting .493 with eight doubles, four homers and 28 of his 45 RBIs in home games.

Smyth Named to CBF National All-Star Lineup

Junior relief pitcher Paul Smyth was named to the College Baseball Foundation’s National All-Star Lineup for the week of May 7. Smyth becomes the second KU pitcher selected to the team this season, joining freshman T.J. Walz, who received the honor on April 23.

Smyth, a 6-foot-1 junior from Atascadero, Calif., earned three saves and a win last week, helping the Jayhawks defeat No. 14 Missouri (April 29) and sweep a three-game series against Oklahoma (May 2-4). The sweep of the Sooners was the first for KU since 1979. Smyth pitched two innings against the Tigers and allowed just one hit to preserve a 3-0 victory at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.

The KU relief pitcher appeared in all three games of the Oklahoma series, picking up a win on Friday evening and his ninth and 10th saves of the season Saturday and Sunday. Smyth’s 10 saves this year are tied for third-most by a Jayhawk.

Jayhawks in National Stats

During the 2008 season, the Jayhawks have put up some eye-opening numbers. Below are national team and individual rankings prior to games Tuesday:

– Left fielder John Allman ranks 38th in the country in times hit by pitch (15) and 92nd in on-base percentage (.482).

– Second baseman Robby Price ranks first in the country in sacrifice bunts (23) and first in sacrifices per game (0.45).

– Outfielder/catcher Ryne Price ranks 31st in the country in runs batted in (57) as well as 98th in home runs (11).

– Relief pitcher Paul Smyth ranks 11th in the nation in saves (10).

– As a team, KU ranks 40th in runs scored (359), 36th in triples (16), 50th in home runs (50), 33rd in sacrifice bunts (41) and 22nd in times hit by pitch (71).

Up Next

Kansas will wrap up the 2008 regular season with a three-game set against Sunflower Showdown rival Kansas State. The Jayhawks and Wildcats will meet Friday, May 16 at 6 p.m. in Lawrence, before shifting the series to Manhattan, Kan. for the Saturday (6:30 p.m.) and Sunday (2 p.m.) games. Both schools will be competing for spots in the conference tournament, which is scheduled to begin Wednesday, May 21 in Oklahoma City.