Jayhawks Host Chicago State in Four-Game Series

May 11, 2007

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The Kansas baseball team will look to gain momentum as it hosts Chicago State in the penultimate series of the regular season. The Jayhawks will face the Cougars in a four-game set 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. <?xml:namespace prefix=”o” ns=”urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office”?>

Scouting the Cougars

Chicago State has endured one of the longest years in team history. The Cougars enter the weekend with a 3-42 record, second-worst among NCAA Division I schools. CSU dropped its first 22 games before defeating Wisconsin-Milwaukee on March 27.

Junior Alex Hall is the Cougars’ top hitter with a .288 batting average, five doubles and 45 hits, while sophomore Bryan Packard has a team-high nine extra base hits and is tied with Kyle Kupiec for the team lead with a pair of homers.

Senior Mike Wieda has earned the win in two of CSU’s three victories this season. The 6-foot-3 righty is 2-9 with a 7.99 ERA. Sophomore Mike Storrs leads the team with 24 appearances this year.

Husain Mahmoud has taken over the reigns on an interim basis at CSU after head coach Vern Hasty resigned last month.

This will be the first meeting between the schools on the baseball field.

Last Time Out

The Jayhawks downed Missouri State, 8-5, on Wednesday in a non-conference game at Hoglund Ballpark. KU scored two runs in the first on a John Allman home run and then hit for a team cycle in the fourth en route to a six-run outburst. Senior Kyle Murphy led the team with four hits, while sophomore Andy Marks allowed just two runs over 5.2 innings for his fourth victory of the season.

Get Your Radio On

Kansas’ series with Chicago 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.

Masterful Marks

Sophomore Andy Marks has turned things around during the last month of the season. After allowing five runs to Texas in his start on April 7, Marks has put together a nice run where he has allowed four earned runs or less in each of his last five starts.

This included a seven-inning, one-hit performace at K-State on May 4. Since April 15, the sophomore lefty has allowed 10 earned runs in 31.0 innings, dropping his season ERA from 6.98 to 5.40.

Mighty Murphy

Senior Kyle Murphy collected four hits in a game for the second time this season Wednesday against Missouri State. It marked the third time that a KU player has recorded four hits in a game. More importantly for Murphy, who raised his batting average from .314 to .326, he extended his 11 game hitting streak. Freshman Robby Price has a 16-game hitting streak earlier this year.

The Price is Right

Junior Ryne Price etched his name in two places in the Kansas baseball record books Wednesday evening.

Price homered in the third inning to tie three other players for seventh in career round-trippers at Kansas with 23. Later in the game, Price was hit by a pitch to tie his older brother Ritchie Price for most time hit by a pitch in a single season with 18 this year.

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 .371 in games at Hoglund Ballpark with a .629 slugging percentage and a .450 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.

Around the Horn

– KU scored six runs in the fourth inning of Wednesday’s victory over Missouri State. It marked the Jayhawks’ best single-inning output since tallying six runs in the fourth inning against Texas on April 6.

– John Allman and Ryne Price homered on Wednesday, marking the 11th time KU has hit multiple home runs in a game. The Jayhawks are 9-2 this season when homering more than once.

– KU hit for a team cycle in the fourth inning Wednesday. Sophomore Buck Afenir led off the inning with a single and scored on Ryne Price’s home run to right. Brock Simpson continued the inning with a double to right center, while sophomore Preston Land tripled off the wall in right center to complete the feat.

– Sophomore Buck Afenir has been a better hitter in clutch situations this season. The second-year backstop is batting .303 with runners on base, compared to just .265 with the bases empty.

– Sophomore Preston Land tripled for the first time since 2006 on Wednesday. He became the sixth different Jayhawk with a three-base hit this season.

– Junior Ryne Price was hit by a pitch in the seventh inning to tie a school record. It was Price’s 18th hit by pitch this season, matching older brother Ritchie Price for the single-season record.

– Shortstop Erik Morrison continues to lead the team with a .371 batting average in home games, with six doubles, four homers and 22 RBIs.

– Left fielder John Allman hit his fourth home run of the season Wednesday, and first against a non-conference opponent.

– Senior Kyle Murphy collected four hits in a game for the second time this season, Wednesday against Missouri State. Murphy leads the team with 17 multiple hit games.

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

– Junior Zach Ashwood is scheduled to make his first start since April 21 this weekend.

– Sophomore Paul Smyth is second in the Big 12 in relief appearances (30) and second in relief appearances in conference games, with 15.

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 .284 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.

Up Next
Kansas will conclude the regular season with a three-game series against Nebraska beginning May 18 at Hoglund Ballpark. Pending outcomes this weekend, the Nebraska series could determine if the Jayhawks advance to the Big 12 Championships or are left home.