Jayhawks head to Arizona for midweek set at Grand Canyon
Redshirt-junior righty Sean Rackoski toes the rubber in game one.
at GRAND CANYON
Rackoski vs. Hansen
TBA vs. TBA
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas wraps up its road swing April 25-26, when the Jayhawks play a two-game midweek set at Grand Canyon.
Kansas (19-20) and Grand Canyon (19-19) have played annually since 2014 with the all-time series knotted at 4-4-1.
Fans can watch both games live on GCU.tv or tune into the audio broadcast on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio or on the official “Kansas Jayhawks” app. Tuesday’s game will also be on the dial on KLWN 101.7 FM/1320 AM.
- Since 2014, Kansas and Grand Canyon have met at least once in each season playing five games during the span.
- Kansas is 2-2-1 in those five games, splitting two, two-game series in Lawrence (2014) and in Phoenix (2015), before playing to a 5-5 tie in 2016 in 10 innings.
- The Jayhawks are coming off a weekend series win at then-No. 19 Oklahoma marking their second-straight conference series win and third of the season.
- That series win against a top-25 opponent was a first since defeating then-No. 9 Oklahoma State in Lawrence two games to one in 2015 and the first on the road since opening Big 12 play with a series win at then-No. 10 Texas in 2014.
- The back-to-back conference series wins vs. Oklahoma State and at Oklahoma marks a first for a KU team since sweeping three-straight league opponents to close out Big 12 play in 2014.
- With that series win against the Sooners, KU’s RPI has jumped to No. 69 – up 22 spots from last week with seven games remaining against top-20 RPI teams (No. 15 Baylor ; No. 16 Missouri State ; and No. 4 Texas Tech ).
- In true midweek contests this season, Kansas holds a record of 5-4, has been outscored by its opponents, 48-42, and averages 4.7 runs per contest.
- Grand Canyon holds a record of 2-5 against Power Five conference teams with its two wins coming against a then-No. 22 Oklahoma State team to open up the season Feb. 17-20 in Phoenix – the Lopes were outscored a combined, 34-23, in those seven games.
LAST TIME AGAINST GRAND CANYON
Trailing 5-3, Kansas scored two runs in the bottom of the ninth to force extras. However, a huge storm blew threw and after three batters in the top of the 10th, the game was sent into a one hour and 10 minute delay, before being called, resulting in the 5-5 tie. Current sophomore Devin Foyle led Kansas with a 4-for-5 effort at the plate with a triple, two RBIs and a run scored. Current junior Owen Taylor finished the day a perfect 2-for-2 with a walk.
ACTIVE CAREER SAVES LEADER
Senior closer Stephen Villines added his 11th save of the season at then-No. 19 Oklahoma (April 22) to push his career total to 37. That number ranks first in the Big 12 Conference and tied for first in the NCAA for the most saves in a career by an active pitcher. Villines is tied with George Washington’s Eddie Muhl for the top spot and is the only Power Five closer in the top-10 in active career saves. Currently, Villines ranks No. 23 all-time in NCAA history with 37 saves and would need six more to crack the all-time top-10. In addition, his 37 saves rank tied for second all-time in the Big 12 with UT’s Corey Knebel (2011-13), with another Longhorn (Huston Street, 2002-04) holding the top spot at 41.
RUDY, RUDY, RUDY
Sophomore centerfielder Rudy Karre helped Kansas to a 2-2 mark during week 10 of the season that included a series win at No. 19 Oklahoma – a first for the Jayhawks in Norman since 2009 and first series win over a top-25 opponent since 2014. Karre led KU with a .429 batting average in four starts that included six hits, two doubles, four RBIs, six runs scored, five walks, one hit-by-pitch, a .571 slugging percentage and a .600 on-base percentage. Against the Sooners, Karre batted an even .500 (6-for-12) with two doubles, four RBIs, six runs scored and a team-best .625 on-base percentage. In KU’s 15-10 win Friday night (April 21), Karre reached base in all six plate appearances with a 3-for-3 effort at the dish that included two doubles, three walks, four runs and four RBIs. That streak extended to eight-straight plate appearances with a leadoff single in Saturday’s contest, also including his last trip to the plate in the Wednesday night game at Wichita State (April 19) where he drew a walk.
WATCH OUT FOR MCLAUGHLIN
Junior shortstop Matt McLaughlin was named to the 2017 Brooks Wallace Award Midseason Watch List. Given annually since 2004, the award is bestowed to the nation’s best shortstop. Six other Big 12 shortstops also found their names on the list with Texas and K-State not represented.
FAST START IN LEAGUE PLAY
Through 15 games in conference play, Kansas holds the fourth-best record in the league at 8-7. That start is the second-best for the Jayhawks since Big 12 play began in 1997, with a 9-6 start in 2013 standing as the best. The three times KU advanced to the NCAA Tournament during the Big 12 era (2006, 2009 and 2014), the squad posted records of 7-8, 8-5 and 6-9, respectively, at this same point. In addition, in those three seasons, Kansas finished with overall conference records of 13-14 (T-5th), 15-12 (4th) and 15-9 (3rd).
Heading into last weekend’s series at then-No. 19 Oklahoma (April 21-23), Kansas had an RPI of 91. After winning the series against the Sooners, the Jayhawks jumped up 22 spots to No. 69. With 17 games remaining in the regular season, KU plays seven games against teams currently ranked within the top-20 in RPI: No. 15 Baylor (three games); No. 16 Missouri State (one game); and at No. 4 Texas Tech (three games).
TWO-STRAIGHT CONFERENCE SERIES WINS
For the first time since 2014, the Jayhawks won back-to-back league series when they took two out of three from Oklahoma State (April 13-15) and two out of three at then-No. 19 Oklahoma (April 21-23). With those two series wins, KU has now won three Big 12 weekend sets, a first since taking five three-game series in league play in 2014.
RECORD BY THE NUMBERS
Kansas is a perfect 10-0 when it holds opponents to two runs or less and is 6-2 in games decided by one run. The Jayhawks are 14-3 when leading after six innings, 17-3 when leading after seven innings and a perfect 18-0 when they have the lead after eight. On the contrary, when KU scores two or fewer runs, it holds a 2-13 mark, and when opponents score first, that record becomes 4-15.
BIG 12 CO-NEWCOMER OF THE WEEK
The Big 12 Conference named freshman second baseman James Cosentino the league’s co-Newcomer of the Week for his performances during week nine of the season against Wichita State (April 11) and Oklahoma State (April 13-15). Cosentino helped Kansas to a 3-1 record during that span with tremendous presence at the plate. He posted a .417 batting average in four starts that included two doubles, three runs, three RBIs, four walks, a .583 slugging and a .579 on-base percentage. Against Oklahoma State, Cosentino made 15 trips to the plate, and reached base safely in 10 of them (five hits, three walks and two hit-by-pitches) while recording a team-high two doubles, .667 on-base percentage and .778 slugging percentage, respectively. In addition, his .556 (5-for-9) average against the Cowboys was .192 points higher than the next Jayhawk, freshman right fielder Brett Vosik, who batted .364.
Senior closer Stephen Villines is 7-for-8 in his last eight save attempts dating back to April 1. During the streak, Villines has thrown seven and 1/3 innings, allowed six hits, one run, and struck out 11 batters for a 1.23 ERA. Prior to the month of April, Villines made 13 appearances and recorded four saves throwing 20 and 1/3 innings, and giving up 12 runs while striking out 28 hitters for a 4.43 ERA. Throughout April, Villines has made 10 appearances, recorded seven saves and posted a 0.87 ERA. He averages 1.2 strikeouts per appearance. He became KU’s all-time saves leader on April 2 surpassing the great Don Czyz and currently holds that mark at 37 career saves.
HE’S GOT CLASS
Kansas baseball senior closer Stephen Villines was named one of 30 candidates to be considered for the 2017 Senior CLASS Award in collegiate baseball. To be eligible for the award, a student-athlete must be classified as a NCAA Division I senior and have notable achievements in four areas of excellence – community, classroom, character and competition. Villines is the fourth Jayhawk to be considered for this award during the 2016-17 school year, joining Cassie Wait (volleyball), Fish Smithson(football) and Frank Mason III (men’s basketball) as Kansas nominees. Villines is just one of four Big 12 baseball players to appear on the list of 30. Joining him are Tyler Buffett (Oklahoma State), Jackson Cramer (West Virginia) and Matt Menard (Baylor).
THE ALL-TIME WINNER
Head coach Ritch Price became KU’s new all-time winningest coach at 439 wins after an 11-7 win over Northwestern State (March 4), surpassing legendary skipper Floyd Temple (438). It took Temple 28 seasons to set that standard, before Price eclipsed that mark in just his 15th year at the helm of the program. Price’s 454 wins account for 24 percent of the program’s 1,872 victories spanning 125 seasons.
Kansas returns to Lawrence to open up an 11-game homestand beginning with a three-game conference series against Baylor (April 28-30).
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