Kansas Baseball Opens Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship Thursday
May 21, 2013
LEADING OFF: Kansas opens Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship play Thursday when the No. 6-seeded Jayhawks take on No. 3 seed West Virginia in the 4 p.m. game at Bricktown Ballpark. The conference delayed the start of the tournament one day because of the devasting tornado in Moore, Okla., and adjusted the format to pool play rather than double-elimination. Kansas will play (2)Oklahoma State at 7:30 p.m. Friday, and (7)TCU at 7:30 p.m. Saturday in Pool Two, with the best team advancing to play the top team in Pool One – (1)K-State, (4)Oklahoma, (5)Baylor and (8)Texas Tech – in the title game Sunday at 1 p.m. Kansas was in a position to challenge for the conference title the last time the Jayhawks played West Virginia and will look to avenge a series sweep, all one-run losses, by the Mountaineers.
ON THE AIR: The entire Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship will be televised on Fox College Sports, with Sunday’s 1 p.m. (CT) title game on Fox Sports Net (FSN). All four games can also be heard on AT&T Jayhawk All-Access through KUAthletics.com with veteran play-by-play man Tom Hedrick calling the action along with Aaron Berlin. Additionally, the games will be simulcast on KLWN 1320 AM for those in the Lawrence, Kan., area.
WEST VIRGINIA SERIES HISTORY: West Virginia’s three-game sweep of Kansas in late April was the first meeting between the two programs, giving the Mountaineers a 3-0 lead over the Jayhawks. All three games were decided by just one run. This will be the first meeting between the two schools in Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship play.
KU-WEST VIRGINIA CONNECTIONS:
– Kansas does not have any West Virginia natives on its roster, while Mountaineer LHP John Means is from Olathe, Kan., and attended Fort Scott Community College in Kansas.
– Means is from Olathe, Kan., and attended Gardner-Edgerton High School, while several Kansas players are from nearby Overland Park, Kan. Sophomore RHP Conner Murray attended Olathe East High School.
– Kansas SS Kevin Kuntz and West Virginia OF Jacob Rice are both from Tulsa, Okla., and were teammates at Union High School.
– Kansas IF Tommy Mirabelli (Rocky River) and Mountaineer C Ray Guerinni (Highland Heights) are both from suburbs of Cleveland, Ohio.
– Jayhawk LHP Wes Benjamin (St. Charles) and West Virginia 3B Ryan Tuntland (Des Plaines) are both from suburbs of Chicago, Ill.
OKLAHOMA STATE SERIES HISTORY: Oklahoma State leads the all-time series with Kansas, 135-57, but the Jayhawks took this year’s series with then No. 19 Oklahoma State, 2-1, to open April. Kansas has had a higher rate of success against the Pokes under the direction of Ritch Price with a 14-20 record. Kansas won the last meeting between the two programs in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, 4-3 (5/26/2006).
KU-OKLAHOMA STATE CONNECTIONS:
– Kansas senior SS Kevin Kuntz (Tulsa) is the only Jayhawk from Oklahoma, while OSU IF Robbie Rea (Topeka) and RHP Jon Perrin (Olathe) are both Sunflower State natives.
– Kuntz attended Union High School in Tulsa and was teammates with Cowboy RHP Mark Robinette.
– Perrin graduated from Olathe East High School and was teammates with KU RHP Conner Murray.
– Oklahoma State IF Robbie Rea (Cowley County) and RHP Phillip Wilson (Cowley County) both attended junior college in the state of Kansas.
– KU associate head coach Ryan Graves pitched for Oklahoma State in 1996. He was teammates with current Oklahoma State head coach Josh Holliday on the Cowboys’ 1996 College World Series team.
– Jayhawk head coach Ritch Price coached for the U.S. National Collegiate Team in 2008, serving as an assistant on that team under current Oklahoma State assistant coach, Rob Walton.
– Kansas C Tom Hougland (Parker), OF Connor McKay (Parker) and Oklahoma State 1B/P Tanner Krietemeier (Castle Rock) all grew up in southern suburbs of Denver, Colo.
– KU 1B/DH Jacob Boylan (Raymore) and Oklahoma State LHP Kyle Gehrs (Independence) are both from eastern suburbs of Kansas City, Mo.
TCU SERIES HISTORY: Kansas is 4-5 all-time against TCU, in a series that dates back to 1990. Kansas won its first Big 12 series with TCU in Fort Worth in March by taking the final two games. This will be the first meeting between the two schools in Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship play.
– TCU does not have any Kansas natives on its roster.
– Kansas LHP Tyler Watson is the only Jayhawk from the Lone Star State.
– Watson is from Georgetown, Texas, a north suburb of Austin. TCU LHP Travis Evans (Round Rock), OF Cody Jones (Round Rock), LHP Trevor Seidenberger (Pflugerville) and OF Colton Turner (Round Rock), also grew up just outside of Texas’ capital city.
– Kansas IF Marcus Wheeler and TCU IF Kevin Cron are both from Phoenix, Ariz. However, Wheeler graduated from Thunderbird High School, while Cron attended Mountain Pointe High School.
– Three Jayhawks are from the San Francisco Bay Area: RHP Frank Duncan (San Francisco), OF Joe Moroney (Pleasanton), IF Colby Wright (Castro Valley), while the Horned Frogs’ C Paddy O’Brien (Orinda) is also from a suburb of San Francisco.
– Kansas IF/C Alex DeLeon (Woodland Hills) and TCU RHP Nick Poulos (Pacific Palisades) both grew up in northwest suburbs of Los Angeles.
– Kansas IF Kevin Kuntz graduated from Union High School in Tulsa, Okla., while TCU OF Axel Johnson is from Tulsa, but attended Bishop Kelley High School.
LAST TIME OUT: The Jayhawks saw their losing skid extended to a season-long six games when the team was swept away by the Utah Utes in a Saturday-Sunday-Monday series at Spring Mobile Ballpark in Salt Lake City. The series featured two more one-run contests, the 20th and 21st of the season for the Jayhawks, both walk-off losses. Monday’s finale was a 7-6 loss in 13 innings. Prior to the non-conference series, the Jayhawks had a week away from competition to complete finals, and were swept by Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship No. 1 seed Kansas State in the conference finale at Hoglund Ballpark the weekend before. Rewinding further, Kansas was playing some of its best baseball of the season with a six-game winning streak prior to getting inverted against the Wildcats.
JAYHAWKS EARN BIG 12 CONFERENCE HONORS: Jordan Piché, the Big 12 saves leader, was named the Big 12 Conference Newcomer of the Year and was selected as an All-Big 12 First Team member, to lead eighth Jayhawks who were recognized by the league Tuedsay. Michael Suiter earned All-Big 12 Second Team honors, and Alex DeLeon, Ka’iana Eldredge, Kevin Kuntz, Justin Protacio, Dakota Smith and>Thomas Taylor were tabbed All-Big 12 Honorable Mention selections. Piché is Kansas’ first All-Big 12 First Team selection since 2010 and the eight honorees are the most for Kansas since 10 players were recognized following the 2005 season.
TAYLOR TWIRLS ANOTHER GEM IN LOSS: Kansas dropped a 1-0, pitcher’s duel to Utah Friday night but it wasn’t due to lack of effort from senior starter>Thomas Taylor. The Overland Park, Kan., native scattered four hits over eight shutout innings but took a no-decision as Utah walked off in the bottom of the ninth. Taylor, who is expected to start for the Jayhawks against West Virginia Thursday, used just 86 pitches while striking out two batters to move his career total to 233, fourth on the Kansas career strikeouts list. The effort dropped Taylor’s KU rotation-leading ERA to 2.32 – the ninth-best ERA in the Big 12 Conference. Taylor has allowed five hits or less in five starts this season.
HIGH ACHIEVERS: Four Kansas Jayhawks were among the student-athletes named to the 2013 Academic All-Big 12 Baseball Team as announced by the league office. Wes Benjamin, Tanner Poppe and Colin Toalson were selected as All-Big 12 First Team honorees while Michael Suiter was tabbed to the All-Big 12 Second Team. First Team selections must be a significant contributor to the team and have a cumulative GPA at 3.20 or greater. Second Team honors go to student-athletes who are significant contributors and have GPAs between 3.00 and 3.19. Poppe, a senior exercise science major, is a three time Academic All-Big 12 selection.