Jayhawks open Big 12 Championship against Texas
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas baseball team opens up the 2018 Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship Wednesday, May 23, with a 12:30 p.m. tilt against No. 1 seed Texas at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City.
Kansas (26-28, 8-15 Big 12) has qualified for the tournament 10 times – all in the Ritch Price era – and have advanced to the championship game twice, winning it in 2006. Texas (37-18, 17-7 Big 12) enters as the regular-season conference champion, its first since the 2011 campaign.
Fans can watch the game live on FSN with Bill Doleman and Mickey Tettleton calling the action. In addition, the contest be heard on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio or on the dial at KLWN.
- Kansas’ all-time record: 1,911-1,841-18
- Head coach Ritch Price’s record in Division I: 708-686-4
- Price’s record at Kansas: 491-458-3
- The Jayhawks qualified for their 10th Big 12 Baseball Championship, entering the tournament as the No. 8 seed.
- All 10 trips to the Big 12 Championship have been achieved in the Ritch Price era.
- Kansas has advanced to the Big 12 Championship game twice, winning it in 2006.
- Kansas has won eight series on the year, including sweeps over then-No. 20 St. John’s and Texas Southern.
- Of the 28 losses by the Jayhawks this season, nine have been by two or less runs, while nine have been by 10 or more runs.
- On the flip side, of KU’s 26 victories, 13 have come by three or more runs with Kansas winning seven games by five or more runs, including three 10-plus run victories.
- Sophomore right-handed pitcher Ryan Zeferjahn holds down the No. 2 spot in the conference in strikeouts after fanning 98 on the season.
- Sophomore second baseman James Cosentino ranks 19th in the nation and first in the Big 12 Conference with 19 hit-by-pitches on the season.
- Junior closer Zack Leban leads the league with 12 saves, that also ranks him tied for No. 20 in the country.
THE LONG BALL
In their last 10 games, the Jayhawks have hit 14 home runs and have now hit 44 on the season. That more than doubles their total from 2017 (18) and is the most bombs hit by a team since the 2009 season (61). In addition, the 44 long balls are the most hit by a team in the new BBCOR bat standards era that were introduced in 2011.
DOUBLE FIGURE K’S
Kansas starting pitchers recorded back-to-back 10-plus strikeout efforts for the first time all season in the first two games against Oklahoma (May 17-18). Junior Jackson Goddard recorded 11 strikeouts to open the series against the Sooners, before sophomore Ryan Zeferjahn followed suit with 11 K’s of his own – the second double-digit strikeout performance for him this season (14 – Texas Southern, March 4).
Junior closer Zack Leban picked up his 12th save of the season against Oklahoma (May 18), moving him into a tie for fourth on the single-season save charts. The top spot on that list (19) is held by Don Czyz, the National Stopper of the Year in 2006.
WALK IT OFF
Sophomore second baseman James Cosentino hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 10th to defeat Oklahoma (May 17) in the series opener. That marked the second time this season the Jayhawks hit a walk-off home run as redshirt-sophomore Brendt Citta accomplished the same feat in the bottom of the 12th inning against Morehead State (March 29).
Kansas’ 10-inning affair against Oklahoma (May 17) marked the sixth extra-inning game of the season for KU. The Jayhawks hold a record of 3-3 in those six games.
Senior first baseman Luke Bakula connected for the biggest hit of his career in the bottom of the ninth in the series opener against Oklahoma (May 17). Bakula scorched a 0-1 slider over the left field wall at Hoglund Ballpark for his first-career home run and sent the game into extra innings, where Kansas walked it off.
SIX HONORED BY LEAGUE COACHES
Six Jayhawks earned a berth on All-Big 12 teams: sophomore righty Ryan Zeferjahn (2nd); sophomore second baseman James Cosentino (HM); redshirt-sophomore reliever Ryan Cyr (HM); junior left fielder Devin Foyle (HM); sophomore catcher Jaxx Groshans (HM) and junior closer Zack Leban (HM).
For the seventh time this season, Kansas plated 10 or more runs in a contest when KU scored 19 against Western Illinois (May 20). The 19 runs mark the most the Jayhawks have scored in a single game this season, and are the most since tallying 20 against Texas Southern on May 5, 2017.
The Kansas baseball team saw a record 11 members of its program recognized by the Big 12 Conference as the league office unveiled its 2018 Academic All-Big 12 Baseball Team Tuesday afternoon (May 15). All 11 Jayhawks were named to the First Team: Casey Douglas, Devin Foyle, Tanner Gragge, Jon Hander, Brandon Johnson, Benjamin Sems, Blake Shinkle, Gabriel Sotomayor, Owen Taylor, Jonah Ulane and Ryan Zeferjahn.
SWINGING FOR THE FENCES
Junior left fielder Devin Foyle hit his ninth home run of the season at Kansas State (May 11) and leads the team in that category. Those nine four baggers mark the most for a KU hitter since the 2014 season when Connor McKay (9) achieved the same feat.
STOPPER OF THE YEAR
The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) named Kansas junior right-handed closer Zack Leban to the 2018 Midseason Stopper of the Year Watch List (April 26). Leban is one of three Big 12 arms to grace the list of 41 names and leads the league with 12 saves.
Junior right hander Jackson Goddard made his first start in conference play this season at Oklahoma State (April 22) and his first start since March 9, 2018. That marks a stretch of 44 days between starts as Goddard was out of the rotation due to a strained oblique. In his first start back from injury, Goddard retired the first seven hitters he faced via the strikeout. It took Goddard just 34 pitches to record those seven K’s. His season high entering the game was also seven, and he broke that with an eight-strikeout performance in his four-inning abbreviated start.
WATCH OUT FOR LEBAN, ZEFERJAHN
The College Baseball Foundation released its initial Pitcher of the Year Award Watch List on Thursday (April 19), highlighting 78 of the top arms in the country that includes two Kansas baseball hurlers – junior Zack Leban and sophomore Ryan Zeferjahn. Kansas is one of 15 schools out of the 298 that sponsor Division I baseball to have two or more names represented on the list of 78.
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. Already the all-time winningest coach in Kansas history, Price has amassed 491 wins during his 16-year stint as the Jayhawks’ skipper, accounting for 25.7 percent of the program’s 1,911 victories spanning 126 seasons played.
THE DEAN OF BIG 12 BASEBALL
Kansas head coach Ritch Price is the most tenured skipper in the Big 12 Conference as he has coached in 404 league games – 24 more than any other current coach.
1. 404 – Ritch Price, Kansas (16th season)
2. 380 – Brad Hill, K-State (15th season)
3. 144 – Tim Tadlock, Texas Tech (Sixth season)
4. 142 – Jim Schlossnagle, TCU (Sixth Season)
7. 140 – Randy Maze, West Virginia (Sixth Season)
6. 139 – Josh Holliday, Oklahoma State (Sixth Season)
7. 72 – Steve Rodriguez, Baylor (Third Season)
8. 47 – David Pierce, Texas (Second Season)
9. 24 – Skip Johnson, Oklahoma (First Season)
Kansas will play either the winner or the loser of No. 4 seed Oklahoma vs. No. 5 seed Baylor contest. The game will be played on Thursday, May 24.
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