Jayhawks-Wildcats Square Off in Late Season Series
May 12, 2010
LAWRENCE, Kan. –
Kansas vs. Kansas State
After sweeping Border Showdown rival Missouri for the first time in 16 years, the Kansas Jayhawks will take on No. 24 Kansas State in a three-game series beginning Friday at Hoglund Ballpark at 7 p.m. The series will shift to Manhattan, Kan., for the final two games of the series at 6:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday.
The games at Tointon Family Stadium will be televised by Cox Kansas 22/MetroSports with Brian Smoller and Mike Clark calling the action. All three games from the series will be broadcast on KLWN radio (1320 AM) with Brian Hanni and Tom Hedrick on the call.
Series with Kansas State
The KU-Kansas State series dates back to 1898 on the baseball diamond, with the Jayhawks holding a 175-159 edge. There has also been one tie. Kansas took two of three from the Wildcats last season, with the home team winning each game. KU is 86-63 against the ‘Cats in Lawrence, but just 69-88-1 in games played in Manhattan, Kan.
About the Jayhawks
Kansas enters the weekend in fifth place, but just 1 1/2 games behind third-place K-State in the Big 12 Conference race. The Jayhawks are looking to win series in back-to-back weekends for the first time since March.
KU’s offense ranks sixth in the Big 12 with a .306 batting average and a .401 on-base percentage. Junior Brian Heere leads the league with 80 hits, and is second with a .412 batting average and a .483 on-base average. Senior Robby Price has also been a tough out with a .356 batting average and a .581 slugging percentage.
KU’s pitching has bounced back and ranks eighth in the Big 12 with a 5.19 ERA. Friday’s starting pitcher T.J. Walz leads the team with a 8-3 record and a 4.87 ERA with 77 strikeouts in 81 1/3 innings.
Scouting the Wildcats
Kansas State enters the weekend ranked 24th in the latest USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ Poll. The Wildcats snapped No. 1 Texas’ 20-game winning streak last Friday, but dropped the last two games of the series.
K-State’s offense leads the Big 12 with a .329 batting average and a .436 on-base percentage. The Wildcats average 8.1 runs per game. Sophomore Nick Martini leads the Big 12 with a .424 batting average, and a .511 on-base percentage. Junior infielder Carter Jurica has provided the Wildcats’ power in the middle of the lineup with eight homers and 60 RBIs with a .577 slugging percentage.
Sophomore left-handed pitcher Kyle Hunter has quietly been one of the best hurlers in the Big 12 with an 8-0 record and a 3.73 ERA while allowing a .268 batting average. Sophomore James Allen has also been one of the top relief pitchers in the league with a 4-0 record, a 2.19 ERA and six saves in 20 relief appearances.
Last Time Out
Junior Casey Lytle recorded three hits, including the game-winning two-run double in the bottom of the 10th inning, as Kansas rallied from a two-run deficit to complete a three-game sweep of Missouri with a 10-9 triumph in extra innings Sunday at Hoglund Ballpark.
The Price is Right
Senior second baseman Robby Price was named Big 12 Player of the Week for the third time this season after batting .583 (7-for-12) with two doubles, two homers and eight RBIs in last weekend’s series against Missouri.
Price bounced back from a rough patch at the end of April that saw him hit just .161 in the eight games prior to the Missouri series. However, the senior second baseman recorded multi-hit games in all three contests against the Tigers, raising his conference average to .404 this season, which is tied for fourth in the league.
His most impressive feat however, may have been his eight RBIs against the Tigers, which give him a career high 48 for the season.
Can You Heere Now?
Not to be outdone, fellow Lawrence, Kan., native Brian Heere put up a solid weekend as well, going 8-for-13 in the series with KU’s Border Showdown rival. The junior center fielder raised his batting average to .412, which ranks second in the league behind Kansas State’s Nick Martini.
Heere continues to be one of the best stories going on the Kansas baseball team this season. He came to KU in 2007 and didn’t earn a starting role until his redshirt sophomore year of 2009. Since then he has been one of the most consistent hitters KU has ever seen, posting a career average of .380, which ranks top in team history.
Kansas junior T.J. Walz will make his final two starts of the regular season at the friendly confines of Hoglund Ballpark, where he is undefeated this season. The junior right-handed pitcher is 4-0 with a 2.43 ERA in four home starts this season.
Save for his start at Nebraska, Walz has been KU’s best pitcher in Big 12 play, going 5-1 with a 4.59 ERA in seven conference starts with 14 walks and 46 strikeouts while allowing a .246 batting average.
KU’s offense recorded 48 hits in the three-game series against Missouri, which ties for the most in a Big 12 series this year (Oklahoma, 48 vs. Texas Tech). KU’s previous high came in 2008, when the Jayhawks collected 45 hits in a series against Oklahoma and scored a team-record 39 runs against the Sooners.
Kansas right fielder Casey Lytle was hit by a pitch in Saturday’s win over Missouri, giving him 21 for the season, which is the single-season record at KU. Lytle’s hit by pitch total ranks ninth in Division I baseball, and is just eight behind the nation’s leader – Vanderbilt’s Brian Harris.
As a team, KU has been plunked 77 times, which is already the third highest total in team history. The program record of 91 times being hit by a pitch came in 2005.
Around the Horn
– Kansas faces Sunflower Showdown rival Kansas State this weekend with the series being split between Lawrence and Manhattan, Kan. The Jayhawks will be looking for their first win in Manhattan since 2006. KU has dropped six-straight in the “Little Apple”.
– Kansas is coming off its first three-game sweep of the season, taking the brooms to Missouri last weekend.
– Kansas has been outstanding in home games this season, going 15-4-1 at Hoglund Ballpark. Since the beginning of the 2008 season, KU is 58-14-1 (.801) in its home games.
– The Jayhawks have been a strike-first offense this season, scoring 135 runs in the first three innings of games, including 49 in the second inning alone. KU has also taken the first lead of the game 30 times this season in 49 games.
– Kansas has battered left-handed pitching this season, hitting .338 against southpaws. KU has gone 8-3-1 when facing a left-handed starting pitcher, compared to 21-16 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 scored the go-ahead run in the 11th inning as a pinch runner in the May 1 game at Oklahoma State. Brunansky’s .474 on-base percentage is up nearly 100 points from last year’s total.
– Freshman catcher Alex DeLeon drew a pair of walks, going 0-for-1 in Saturday’s win over Missouri. DeLeon entered the contest in the fourth inning, and started KU’s six-run rally with a base on balls with one out.
– 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 31 walks, and is the team leader with 28 hits when he has two strikes in the count.
– Senior first baseman Brett Lisher went 3-for-4 with two runs scored in the May 8 win over Missouri. It was the senior’s first three-hit game since a 3-for-5 effort on April 9 at Texas.
– Right fielder Casey Lytle went 6-for-13 in the three-game series against Missouri, including the walk-off double in the 10th inning in the series finale. Lytle recorded multiple hits in the games on May 8 and 9, marking the eighth time this season he has had back-to-back multi-hit games.
– 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 .385 (20-for-52) with five doubles, two homers and 15 runs scored.
– Infielder Jake Marasco has done a great job when leading off an inning. The redshirt freshman has reached base at a .500 clip (11-for-22) when he is the leadoff man in an inning.
– Senior second baseman Robby Price has been clutch all season, batting .414 with men on base, and .444 with runners in scoring position. He is also second on the team with 25 two-strike hits, including three last weekend against Missouri.
– Sophomore catcher James Stanfield has found a way to be a clutch contributor. The second-year catcher is batting .312 with men on base, and .327 with men in scoring position, nearly 100 points better than his season average.
– Junior third baseman Tony Thompson showed signs of returning to his 2009 form the last couple of weeks. In his last 10 games, Thompson is batting .463 (19-for-41) with four doubles, two homers and 17 RBIs.
– Junior outfielder Jimmy Waters has been nearly even against right-handed and left-handed pitchers. The junior is batting .327 against lefties and .317 against right-handed pitchers.
– Senior Travis Blankenship earned his first victory of the season on May 9 against Missouri, pitching a season-high four innings of relief.
– 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.
– Junior lefty Wally Marciel bounced back from a pair of rough outings with two innings of scoreless relief against Missouri on May 9.
– Sophomore Colton Murray recorded perhaps his best relief appearance of his career, with 3 1/3 scoreless innings against Missouri on May 8 to earn his first win. Murray hasn’t allowed more than one earned run in an appearance this year since his first outing on Feb. 22.
– Senior Cameron Selik has recorded six quality starts this season, which ranks second on the team behind T.J. Walz’ seven.
– Junior T.J. Walz won his 20th career game in a Jayhawk uniform on May 7, which matches Pete Smart’s total – tying him for seventh in school history. Walz is one of eight Jayhawks to record 20 career wins, and is just six victories away from the school record of 26 career wins set by Jim Phillips.
Lights, Camera, Jayhawks
Kansas will play its final two televised games of the regular season Saturday and Sunday at Kansas State. The two games will be simulcast on Kansas 22 as well as Metro Sports (Channel 37 on Sunflower Cable).
The Jayhawks have been on television four other times this season, defeating Creighton (April 7) and Nebraska (April 18) on CBS College Sports, and falling at Wichita State (April 27) on Kansas 22/MetroSports and Oklahoma State (May 1) on Fox Sports Net.
Kansas will hit the road for the final time during the regular season, facing Arkansas-Little Rock at Dickey-Stephens Park on Tuesday, May 18 at 7 p.m.