In-state rivalry continues on the diamond between Jayhawks and Shockers
Sophomore Zack Leban will be making his first-career start on the mound.
Leban vs. Killgore
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas takes a break from Big 12 Conference play Tuesday, April 11, and focuses its attention on in-state rival Wichita State for a 6 p.m. clash on the baseball diamond at Hoglund Ballpark.
The Jayhawks (14-17) have won seven of their last eight games against the Shockers (16-15) with KU skipper Ritch Price holding a 5-1 head-to-head record over WSU coach Todd Butler.
The game can be seen on the Jayhawk Television Network in the state of Kansas, and on ESPN3 outside the coverage area. In addition, fans can listen to a live audio broadcast of the game on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio or on the official “Kansas Jayhawks” app.
- Kansas posted a 2-2 record on the road against two top-25 RPI teams in Missouri State (April 4) and West Virginia (April 7-9).
- The Jayhawks beat a then-No. 25 RPI Missouri State, 4-2, on Tuesday (April 4) and stole a game from a then-No. 9-ranked RPI West Virginia, 7-2, on Sunday (April 9).
- That 2-2 mark in a four-game road swing is the best since KU finished 2-2 in four games played on the road at Northwestern (May 5-6) and then-No. 3 TCU (May 8-9) in 2015.
- Since 2000, Kansas and Wichita State have played at least one game a season against one another with a total of 35 being played – the Jayhawks lead the Shockers 19 victories to 16 during that span.
- KU is 7-3 in the last 10 games played against Wichita State and winners of seven of its last eight.
- The Jayhawks have outscored the Shockers by an average of 6.7 to 5.4 runs per contest during those 10 contests.
- Head to head, Kansas skipper Ritch Price holds a 5-1 record against WSU’s Todd Butler, with the lone loss coming on May 17, 2016 by a score of 7-6.
- KU has only lost one home game to the Shockers since 2009 coming on April 10, 2012 by a 6-4 decision in 16 innings.
- Since 2013, The Jayhawks hold a record of 11-9 in games played against an in-state rival – 7-1 against Wichita State and 4-8 against K-State.
AGAINST WICHITA STATE
The current senior class has played six games against the Shockers dating back to April 1, 2014, and holds a record of 5-1 in those contests. In those games, the Jayhawks averaged 8.8 runs compared to the 5.5 runs scored by Wichita State. Senior closer Stephen Villines appeared in five of those contests, earning the save in two of them. He is yet to allow a run against WSU in seven and 1/3 innings of relief and averages .95 strikeouts per inning pitched.
WEIMAN FOR THE SAVE
Junior lefty reliever Blake Weiman had arguably one of his best relief appearances of his career at West Virginia (April 9). The southpaw entered the game in the fifth inning with runners at first and second and two outs, primed to face one of the Mountaineers’ best hitters in Jackson Cramer. Weiman struck Cramer out on four pitches to keep the 2-2 stalemate alive until Kansas was able to take the lead in the seventh inning to earn him and the Jayhawks the “W.” Weiman tossed three and 1/3 scoreless innings and allowed just two base hits en route to his first win of the season.
WELCOME TO THE LEAGUE
Freshman righty Ryan Zeferjahn made his first-career Big 12 Conference start on Sunday (April 9) at West Virginia where he helped Kansas salvage the weekend with a solid outing on the hill. The rookie gave the Jayhawks a chance with four and 2/3 quality innings where he struck out eight of the 20 batters he faced. His only mistake came in the fourth inning when he gave up a two-run home run that allowed the Mountaineers to tie it up. Take that one pitch away, and Zeferjahn did exactly what he was supposed to and turned the ball over to the bullpen with KU in a prime position to win.
After losing six players to the MLB Draft in 2014 when the Jayhawks advanced to their fifth-ever NCAA Tournament and finished their highest ever in Big 12 play (3rd), head coach Ritch Price had to rebuild his program around a strong nucleus of young talent evident by the number of freshmen and sophomores on his lineup cards in 2017. On any given day, there could be up to five freshmen and three sophomores starting, depending on the day’s pitcher. With youth jump-starting the lineup, KU has seen steady improvement on the mound since its entire rotation from 2014 either graduated or was drafted. A look comparing the last five years offensively and on the mound:
A BETTER START
The Jayhawks are off to their best start in Big 12 play through nine games since 2014 when they started conference play 5-4. The past two seasons, Kansas missed the Big 12 Championship by finishing last and started each of those season (2015 & 2016) 3-6 in the first nine league games. In 2017, Kansas opened up conference play 4-5 with two tough road trips at then-No. 3 TCU (March 17-19) and at West Virginia (April 7-9) where the team squandered hopes of a sweep with Sunday victories in each series. The other two wins came in a home series victory over Texas where KU won the final two games of the three-game set. Against those same three teams in 2015, KU held a record of 3-5 and in 2016, a mark of 2-6.
The Jayhawks continue Big 12 Conference play when they host Oklahoma State Thursday, April 13 for the first of a three-game series at Hoglund Ballpark.
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