Jayhawks host No. 16 Missouri State in final home midweek contest
Sophomore centerfielder Rudy Karre has been hit by 21 pitches this season.
#16 MISSOURI STATE
Rackoski vs. Knight
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas wraps up its home midweek slate Tuesday, May 2, when the Jayhawks host No. 16 Missouri State at Hoglund Ballpark.
The Jayhawks (22-22, 9-9 Big 12) won the previous meeting on April 4 in Springfield, Missouri, 4-2, and look to sweep the two-game season series against the Bears (30-13, 11-0 MVC) for the first time since 2010.
Fans can watch the game live on ESPN3 or tune into the audio broadcast on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio or on the official “Kansas Jayhawks” app. First pitch is slated for 6 p.m.
- Kansas has won five three-game series on the season – three in Big 12 play – marking the most won in a season since 2014 when the Jayhawks claimed victories in eight series of three or more games.
- KU owns a record of 7-4 in true midweek games played in 2017 with an even .500 winning percentage (3-3) in the six games played at Hoglund Ballpark.
- In those 11 contests played, Kansas is batting .258 and averages 5.3 runs per contest.
- Kansas won its first game at Missouri State, 4-2, on April 4, marking the first time the Jayhawks defeated the Bears in Springfield, Missouri, since April 13, 2010.
- That 2010 season also stands as the last time KU swept the two-game season series with the Jayhawks owning a total of four regular-season two-game sweeps of the Bears dating back to 1991.
- The Jayhawks hold a 13-11 record at Hoglund Ballpark in 2017 with an 8-7 mark in non-conference action played in Lawrence.
- In those 15 games, Kansas has played even with its opponents as both average 5.1 runs per contest (both Kansas and its opponents scored 77 runs).
- KU’s RPI has climbed to No. 62 with four games left against top-20 RPI teams (No. 16 Missouri State  and at No. 5 Texas Tech ).
THE LONG BALL
For the third time this season, Kansas hit two home runs in a game when sophomore left fielder Devin Foyle and freshman second baseman James Cosentino each hit two-run blasts against Baylor (April 30). The Jayhawks are a perfect 3-0 in those three contests in which the team hit two home runs.
Kansas blasted seven extra-base hits in its win against Baylor (April 30) – five doubles and two home runs – tallying all but two of its hit total. Sophomore left fielder Devin Foyle and freshman second baseman James Cosentino hit the long balls, junior shortstop Matt McLaughlin collected a career-high two doubles, while Foyle, senior first baseman Marcus Wheeler and freshman designated hitter/catcher Jaxx Groshans added a double each. Those seven extra-base hits marked the most for a Jayhawk team in a single game against a Power Five school since hitting six doubles and a home run on May 17, 2015 against Kansas State.
CALL HIM THE STOPPER
For the second time in his career, senior closer Stephen Villines was named to the NCBWA Midseason Stopper of the Year Watch List, bestowed to the nation’s top relief pitcher. Villines has racked up 11 saves on the season and leads the Big 12 Conference in that category. So far in 2017, Villines has posted a 3.03 ERA in 32 and 2/3 innings pitched and struck out 28.9 percent of the batters he has faced (41-of-142). In his last 13 appearances, Villines has earned eight saves, and has converted on seven of his last eight save attempts.
HE PUTS THE RP IN RPI
Kansas head coach Ritch Price has preached all season about being patient with his young ball club stating that in his experience, it takes about 25 games for freshmen to stop playing like freshmen. The skipper hit the nail on the head as he has his team headed in the right direction coming down the home stretch. Through the first 25 games, the Jayhawks held a 10-15 record with a RPI of 157 through March 31. In the month of April, KU posted a record of 12-7, won three Big 12 series and earned a record of 6-4 on the road to increase its RPI to its current position at No. 62. With 12 games remaining in the season, Kansas controls its own destiny with four games remaining against top-20 RPI teams: No. 16 Missouri State (1); and at No. 5 Texas Tech (3). The last time Kansas earned an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament in 2014, it had a RPI of 44.
AND THEN THERE WERE THREE
Kansas has played 44 games so far in 2017 and only three Jayhawks have started each of those contests. Sophomore Devin Foyle made all 44 of his starts in the outfield – 35 in left, one in center and eight in right – while freshman James Cosentino is the staple at second base. Sophomore Rudy Karre rounds out the trio having made 41 starts in center field, two at designated hitter and one at third base.
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.
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.
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 457 wins account for 24 percent of the program’s 1,877 victories spanning 125 seasons.
The Jayhawks continue their 11-game homestand and take a break from Big 12 Conference play when they host Texas Southern for a four-game series at Hoglund Ballpark, May 5-7.
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