Jayhawks' conference slate continues with TCU
LAWRENCE, Kan. – For the first time since 2014, Kansas will face off against an unranked TCU squad when the Jayhawk baseball team plays a three-game set against the Horned Frogs, April 13-15 at Hoglund Ballpark.
Kansas (19-14, 3-6 Big 12) is coming off its best three offensive performances of the year after scoring 37 runs in its last three games. TCU (16-13, 4-5 Big 12) comes to Lawrence winning just two of its last eight contests after sweeping Kansas State on the second weekend of league play (March 23-25).
All three games can be seen on ESPN3 with Saturday and Sunday’s contests also on the Jayhawk Television Network. In addition, all three contests can be heard on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio. Saturday’s game will also be on the dial at KJHK 90.7 FM.
- Kansas’ all-time record: 1,904-1,827-18 (.510)
- Head coach Ritch Price’s record in Division I: 701-672-4 (.511)
- Price’s record at Kansas: 484-444-3 (.522)
- Kansas has won six of the eight weekend series it has played including sweeps over then-No. 20 St. John’s and Texas Southern.
- The Jayhawks scored a season-high 17 runs to 10-run rule then-No. 5 Texas Tech Sunday (April 8) – the most runs against a Power Five team and in conference play since April 30, 2010 at Oklahoma State (W, 17-3).
- That win over the Red Raiders marked the first run-rule victory for KU in league play since defeating then-No. 11 K-State, 17-7, on May 17, 2009.
- In its last three games, Kansas has scored 37 runs, averaging 12.3 runs per contest.
- KU ranks second in the Big 12 in batting average (.285), second in slugging percentage (.424), third in scoring (6.2) and third in on-base percentage (.386).
- Sophomore second baseman James Cosentino leads the nation and the Big 12 Conference with 16 hit-by-pitches on the season.
- Sophomore designated hitter Brett Vosik ranks third in the Big 12 in batting average with a .371 clip.
- Junior closer Zack Leban leads the league with 10 saves that also rank him No. 4 in the country.
- Sophomore righty Ryan Zeferjahn holds the top spot in the conference in strikeouts (56) and ranks third in strikeouts per nine innings (10.80).
FIVE FOR FOYLE
Junior left fielder Devin Foyle matched a career-high five RBIs for the fourth time during his three-year tenure as a Jayhawk when he drove in a quintet of Jayhawks at Creighton (April 11). The last time he knocked in five runs came almost two years ago from that date (April 23, 2016) during his rookie season. In that campaign, Foyle reached that mark on three separate occasions.
DOWN BUT NOT OUT
At Omaha (April 10), the Jayhawks erased a four-run deficit in the top of the ninth inning to defeat the Mavericks, 9-5. Kansas scored eight runs all with two outs in that final frame to earn the come-from-behind victory. That eight-spot is the most runs KU has scored in an inning all season, and the most runs in a single frame since May 5, 2017, when it plated 11 runs in the fourth against Texas Southern.
Kansas has scored 37 runs in its last three games for an average of 12.3 runs per contest. On the season, the Jayhawks average 6.2 runs per game, ranking them third in the conference. KU has eclipsed that mark 11 times throughout the course of the season, and has come really close to that mark on seven other occasions when the squad scored six runs in those contests.
Kansas has scored in 101 of the 286 innings it has come to the plate. Of those 101 innings, the Jayhawks have scored two or more runs in 56 of those frames – 55.4 percent of the time the Jayhawks score, they score more than one run. Of those multi-run innings, KU plates three or more 50.9 percent of the time. Kansas’ biggest inning of 2018 came on Wednesday, April 10, at Omaha, when the Jayhawks plated eight runs in the top of the ninth with two outs.
With a 17-3 thumping of then-No. 5 Texas Tech on Sunday (April 8) head coach Ritch Price earned his 700th-career victory at the Division I level. Only 18 other active Power Five coaches can say they have accomplished that feat. Already the all-time winningest coach in Kansas history, Price has amassed 484 wins during his 16-year stint as the Jayhawks’ skipper, accounting for 25.4 percent of the program’s 1,904 victories spanning 126 seasons played.
When it comes to batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage, Kansas finds itself ranked second, second and third in each of those categories in the Big 12 Conference. The Jayhawks hold a .285 average – .020 behind the Red Raiders’ leading .305; KU slugs .424 – .072 off the pace of TTU’s .496; and Kansas reaches base at a clip of .386 – .042 back of league leader Texas Tech. The last time the Jayhawks saw these type of numbers at this point in the season came in 2015 – .291 BA, .408 SLG% and .382 OB%.
EXPERIENCE IS EVERYTHING
Through the first 33 games in 2017, 72.1 percent of the starts accounted for by the position players were made by underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores). That young group of Jayhawks saw its batting average register in at .236, its slugging at .312 and its on-base percentage at .325 in those first 33 contests. Fast forward to 2018, KU is a year older and more experienced, thus showing some major improvements with the bat and at the plate. Kansas has seen its batting average rise .049 to its current .285 clip; its slugging up .112 to .424 and its on-base rise to .386, a .061 improvement.
FORECAST CALLS FOR TOUGHNESS
Kansas has played 21 home games, including six weekend series thus far with an average mean temperature on those days coming in at 40.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The Jayhawks have won five of those six weekend series, posting a record of 15-6 in those 21 contests. KU is no stranger to cold weather and its three-game series against then-No. 5 Texas Tech registered an average mean temperature of 33.3 degrees, with Sunday’s (April 8) contest exhibiting snow, sleet and freezing rain.
CLIMBING THE LADDER
Righty Ryan Zeferjahn continues to string together one of the top sophomore campaigns a Jayhawk has ever had. Zeferjahn ranks first in the Big 12 and eighth in the nation with six victories; first in the league in strikeouts (56); and third in the conference in strikeouts per nine innings (10.80). No Kansas pitcher has ever finished atop the league in strikeouts or strikeouts per nine innings, and the last KU hurler to lead the Big 12 in wins was Drew Morovick (10) in 2014.
SEVEN, EIGHT, NINE
Kansas is a perfect 14-0 when leading after six innings; 15-0 when leading after seven innings; and 16-0 when leading after eight innings. Those numbers reflect how head coach Ritch Price has aligned his bullpen to close out games. Redshirt-sophomore Ryan Cyr and junior closer Zack Leban have done the bulk of the work in those innings. The duo has made 13 appearances during the team’s 18 wins, thrown a combined 42 and 1/3 innings and struck out 40 hitters. En route, Cyr has picked up four wins, while Leban leads the Big 12 and ranks fourth in the nation with 10 saves.
Junior closer Zack Leban is a perfect 10-for-10 in save opportunities. During those 10 outings, Leban has thrown 13 innings and struck out 11 batters, without surrendering a walk. He is the fastest to record 10 saves in the Price era, and ranks atop the Big 12 Conference and fourth in the nation in that category.
Senior lefty Taylor Turski and sophomore righty Ryan Zeferjahn did something that head coach Ritch Price has been waiting for – get to the eighth inning. Turski willed his way through a career-high eight innings on the bump in Friday’s loss to Morehead State (March 30) before Zeferjahn tossed a personal-best eight shutout innings against the Eagles to earn Kansas the series victory on Saturday (March 31). The Jayhawks played 32 innings on the weekend against Morehead State, and the duo combined to pitch 50 percent of the innings. Both performances saved a taxed bullpen that threw a combined nine and 2/3 innings during Thursday’s (March 29) 12-inning affair.
Kansas hits the road for a four-game road swing when it travels to Wichita State on Wednesday, April 18, before continuing south to Oklahoma State, April 20-22.
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