Jayhawks face first road test at No. 4 Florida State
LAWRENCE, Kan. – For the first time in the 126-year history of the Kansas baseball program, the Jayhawks will face off against one of the premier programs in the country when they travel to No. 4 Florida State for a two-game midweek set at Dick Howser Stadium, March 5-6.
The Seminoles’ (11-0) starting pitching holds a 1.04 ERA while Kansas (8-2) enters the two-game stretch with a team batting average of .303.
Both games can be seen on the ESPN ACC Network Extra, available at WatchESPN.com or streaming live on multiple devices via the ESPN app. In addition to a video broadcast, the contests can also be heard on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio.
- Kansas’ all-time record: 1,893-1,815-18 (.509)
- Head coach Ritch Price’s record in Division I: 690-660-4 (.510)
- Price’s record at Kansas: 473-432-3 (.522)
- Kansas won its third-straight weekend series of the season when it swept Texas Southern in a three-game set this past weekend (March 2-4).
- That series sweep marked the first for KU since it won all four games against the Tigers last season (May 5-7) – the last Power Five sweep came in 2014 when the Jayhawks won nine-straight to close conference play.
- The three-consecutive weekend series wins also marks a first for KU since that 2014 season when it took the series at Baylor, vs. #19 Texas Tech and vs. West Virginia to close out league play.
- The 8-2 start marks the second-best beginning to a season in the Ritch Price era with the No. 1 coming in 2014 when the Jayhawks went 9-1 to begin that campaign.
- No other team in the 126-year history of the Kansas baseball program opened the season with more consecutive home games than the 2018 squad did (10).
- KU and Florida State have never played a game against one another in the history of the two programs, however, the Jayhawks are no stranger to Dick Howser Stadium as they played their 1994 Atlantic II Regional there.
COUNTDOWN TO 700
With the three-game sweep of Texas Southern (March 2-4), head coach Ritch Price is 10 wins away from reaching No. 700 for his career as a Division I coach. Only 15 other active Power Five coaches can say they have accomplished that feat. Already the all-time winningest coach in Kansas history, Price has amassed 473 wins during his 16-year stint as the Jayhawks’ skipper, accounting for 25 percent of the program’s 1,893 victories spanning 126 seasons played.
ON THE ROAD AGAIN?
After an unprecedented 10-game homestand to open up the 2018 season, the Jayhawks will take their talents to Tallahassee, Florida, for their first road test of the year. Kansas posted a 9-12 clip in true road games a year ago, including a record of 3-12 against top-25 foes. The last time KU opened its slate of road games against a nationally-ranked opponent came in the season opener of 2015 at then-No. 2 LSU.
FIVE FOR FIGHTING
Sophomore shortstop Benjamin Sems boasted a career day in the Sunday contest against Texas Southern (March 4). Sems hit the first triple of his career, had a personal-best three hits and drove in a career-high five RBIs. The last time a KU player knocked in five runs came on April 23, 2016, when then-freshman outfielder Devin Foyle drove in five at Samford.
SWING AND A MISS
Sophomore righty Ryan Zeferjahn fanned a personal-best 14 batters in the series finale against Texas Southern (March 4). That marked the most K’s for a Jayhawk in a game since Frank Duncan struck out the same number against Mississippi Valley State on Feb. 23, 2014. Those 14 also tie for the most in the Ritch Price era for strikeouts by a pitcher in a game with Duncan – the school record is 18 held by Carl Nelson (April 1, 1963) and Larry Miller (May 16, 1958).
.500 OR BETTER
For the 12th time in the 16 years head coach Ritch Price has held the reins of the Kansas baseball program, the Jayhawks posted a .500 or better record through its first 10 games. KU’s 8-2 mark to start 2018 ranks No. 2 in the Price era behind the 9-1 start Kansas rattled off in 2014.
FIRST TO FIVE
Junior closer Zack Leban picked up two saves on the weekend to bring his season total to five in six appearances. Leban is a perfect 5-for-5 in save opportunities and holds a 1.35 ERA in six and 1/3 innings pitched. Already the fastest to record five saves in the Price era, Leban has struck out seven batters without allowing a walk. His five saves rank atop the Big 12 Conference.
Sophomore catcher/designated hitter Jaxx Groshans tied junior left fielder Devin Foyle for the team’s longest hitting streak of the season after ending the weekend on a seven-game heater. During that span, Groshans batted .423 (11-for-26) with two doubles, two triples, one home run and nine RBIs. His .769 slugging and .448 on-base percentages rank second on the team during that span only to Foyle, who boasts a .458/.833/.500 slash.
Junior righty Blake Goldsberry picked up his first win of the season after pitching six and 2/3 innings of scoreless relief against Omaha (Feb. 26). That performance paced the Jayhawks to their fifth win of the season and was the first five-plus inning performance of scoreless relief since Stephen Villines tossed six innings of runless ball against Texas Tech (May 8, 2016).
Kansas scored 26 runs against Northwestern in a three-game set at Hoglund Ballpark. Those 26 plated mark the most for a Jayhawk team in a three-game set against a Power Five team at home since May 7-9, 2010, when they scored 28 runs in a three-game sweep of Missouri. The last time Kansas scored a total of 26 runs against a Power Five team all-time came in 2017 at No. 19 Oklahoma (April 21-23), where it won the series.
LONG TIME COMING
Redshirt-sophomore outfielder Brendt Citta had to wait 633 days to step back on the diamond after transferring from San Jose State following the 2016 season. That time off was well spent as Citta roped the Jayhawks’ first home run of the season with a two-run blast over the wall in left center. That four-bagger came on the first pitch he saw as a Kansas player. Prior to that, his last at bat came on May 25, 2016.
PRICE NAMES 2018 CAPTAINS
Head coach Ritch Price announced that seniors Tanner Gragg and Owen Taylor, and redshirt-sophomore Brendt Citta will handle captains’ duties for the 2018 season. The trio is each holding the honor of captain for the first time in their careers and represents what the Kansas baseball program is all about.
STARS AND STRIPES
The Kansas baseball team will represent the United States at the International University Sports Federation’s (FISU) Sixth World University Baseball Championships (WCB) July 6-15, 2018, in Chiayi, Taiwan. The Jayhawks were selected by the United States International University Sports Federation (US-IUSF) to represent the United States. They are the first collegiate team to wear the red, white and blue in the WCB and are the third team overall to represent the country as a collegiate national team, joining Cal State Fullerton (2015) and Iowa (2017) who played in the World University Games.
HE’S GOT TENURE
Kansas head coach Ritch Price is the most tenured skipper in the Big 12 Conference as he has coached in 381 league games – 23 more than any other current coach. He starts his 16th season in the league, one more than Kansas State’s Brad Hill and 10 more than the majority of the conference’s head coaches.
1. 381 – Ritch Price, Kansas (16th season)
2. 358 – Brad Hill, K-State (15th season)
3. 120 – Tim Tadlock, Texas Tech (Sixth season)
4. 117 – Jim Schlossnagle, TCU (Sixth season)
5. 116 – Randy Mazey, West Virginia (Sixth season)
Kansas returns home to open up a four-game homestand with a three-game series against St. John’s, March 9-11, and a single midweek contest against Omaha (March 14).
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