Jayhawks host Missouri State in midweek action
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas baseball team opens up an eight-game homestand when it hosts Missouri State Tuesday, March 27, in midweek action at Hoglund Ballpark.
Kansas (15-9, 2-4 Big 12) is coming off a series win at Baylor and looks to use that momentum against a Missouri State (16-6, 0-0 MVC) team that is coming off a series sweep.
The game can be seen on ESPN3 available at WatchESPN.com or on devices via the ESPN app. In addition, the contest can also be heard on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio.
- Kansas’ all-time record: 1,900-1,822-18 (.510)
- Head coach Ritch Price’s record in Division I: 697-667-4 (.511)
- Price’s record at Kansas: 480-439-3 (.522)
- Kansas won its fifth series of the season in six tries after taking two out of three at Baylor (March 23-25).
- That series victory marked the first for KU against the Bears since the 2014 season when the Jayhawks swept BU in Waco.
- Following that series win on the road, KU saw its RPI climb 53 spots up to No. 64 after entering the weekend at No. 117.
- The Jayhawks just wrapped up a eight-game road trip that lasted 11 days capped by that series victory at Baylor.
- During that road trip, Kansas posted a record of 3-5, picking up a win at Grand Canyon and two wins at Baylor.
- The Jayhawks batted .274 during that stretch with 13 doubles, two triples and five home runs.
- Sophomore designated hitter Brett Vosik led the squad during those eight games with a .429 (12-for-28) average, hitting two doubles and driving in a team-best seven RBIs.
- Sophomore catcher Jaxx Groshans ranks as the fourth-toughest hitter in the Big 12 Conference to strikeout with a punch-out rate of once every 11.6 at bats.
- Tuesday’s game against Missouri State is the first of eight-straight home games for the Jayhawks – there are 33 home games slated for the 2018 season.
ON THE ROAD
Kansas just wrapped up an eight-game road trip that consisted of 11-striaght days of traveling. The Jayhawks posted a record of 3-5 in those contests, finishing with a series victory at Baylor (March 23-25). That eight-game road stretch marked the longest for a KU team since 2015 when the squad also had eight-consecutive games played away from Hoglund Ballpark.
ARE YOU CYR-IOUS?
Redshirt-sophomore reliever Ryan Cyr pitched three and 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball against Baylor, including two shutout innings in Sunday’s (March 25) clincher. He has not allowed an earned run since March 11 against St. John’s spanning 10 innings of work. As a result, he has lowered his ERA all the way to a Big 12-best 1.05.
Sophomore catcher Jaxx Groshans caught three-consecutive days for the first time all season when he started all three games against Baylor in order for head coach Ritch Price to keep the hot bat of Brett Vosik in the lineup. Against the Bears, Groshans batted .583 (7-for-12) with a double, two RBIs and three runs scored. He reached base in eight of his 13 plate appearances for a team-high .615 on-base percentage. He also connected for a career-best four hits in Sunday’s clincher (March 25).
SEVEN, EIGHT, NINE
Kansas is a perfect 12-0 when leading after six innings; 14-0 when leading after seven innings; and 15-0 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 12 appearances during the team’s 15 wins, thrown a combined 36 and 1/3 innings and struck out 31 hitters. En route, Cyr has picked up four wins, while Leban leads the Big 12 and ranks second in the nation with 10 saves.
Sophomore Gabriel Sotomayor has taken on a new role as one of KU’s middle reliever, and since then, he has flourished. At Grand Canyon (March 21), Sotomayor pitched two and 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball to halt a GCU comeback. Then Friday night at Baylor (March 23), he picked up his first-career win with two perfect innings in the relief of starter Tyler Davis. During that showing, Sotomayor faced the minimum while striking out one batter. That performance bridged the gap to the backend of the bullpen, which was able to hold off the Bears for the Friday night victory.
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 second in the nation in that category.
Kansas ranks second in the Big 12 and 17th in the nation among Power Five schools in slugging percentage with a .439 clip. That mark is .138 higher compared to the same point in the season in 2017. At this time last year, KU had hit 36 doubles, three triples and four home runs. Already this season, the Jayhawks have hit 49 doubles, 11 triples and 17 home runs – just one bomb shy of the total hit a year ago.
BRING OUT THE BROOMS
For the first time since 2014 (then-No. 19 Texas Tech), the Jayhawks swept a ranked opponent when they defeated No. 20 St. John’s Sunday afternoon (March 11). That sweep also marked the second-consecutive weekend series sweep for KU this season, another first since that 2014 campaign where it closed conference play sweeping three-consecutive weekends.
COUNTDOWN TO 700
Head coach Ritch Price is five 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 480 wins during his 16-year stint as the Jayhawks’ skipper, accounting for 25 percent of the program’s 1,900 victories spanning 126 seasons played.
Kansas head coach Ritch Price is the most tenured skipper in the Big 12 Conference as he has coached in 387 league games – 26 more than any other current coach. Now in his 16th season in the league, he has one more than Kansas State’s Brad Hill and 10 more than the majority of the conference’s head coaches.
1. 387 – Ritch Price, Kansas (16th season)
2. 361 – Brad Hill, K-State (15th season)
3. 126 – Tim Tadlock, Texas Tech (Sixth season)
4. 120 – Jim Schlossnagle, TCU (Sixth season)
5. 119 – Randy Mazey, West Virginia (Sixth season)
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 tied 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). That effort earned Zeferjahn Big 12 Pitcher of the Week Honors (March 5) – the first such recognition since Ben Krauth in 2016 (March 14).
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.
Kansas continues its homestand when it welcomes in Morehead State for a three-game series, March 29-31.
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