Jayhawks open Big 12 play at Texas
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas travels to Austin, Texas, March 16-18, to open up Big 12 Conference play against Texas at UFCU Disch-Falk Field
KU (12-4) and the Longhorns (9-9) last opened up conference play against one another in 2014 in Austin, where the Jayhawks took the series against a then-No. 10 ranked UT team.
The games can be seen on the Longhorn Network and on ESPN3, 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: 1,897-1,817-18 (.511)
- Head coach Ritch Price’s record in Division I: 694-662-4 (.512)
- Price’s record at Kansas: 477-434-3 (.524)
- Kansas won its fourth-straight weekend series of the season when it swept then-No. 20 St. John’s in a three-game set this past weekend (March 9-11).
- That series sweep marked the second for KU this season and is the first time it swept back-to-back opponents since the 2014 season when the Jayhawks won nine-straight to close conference play.
- The three-straight wins over a ranked opponent was also a first since that 2014 season when KU swept then-No. 19 Texas Tech.
- The four-consecutive weekend series wins also marks a first for KU since 2004 where Kansas won sets against Oakland, Milwaukee, Little Rock and Western Illinois.
- The last time the Jayhawks won five three-game series in a row came during the 1993 season.
- The last time KU won a series at Texas came in 2014 and marked just the second series victory in Austin for the Jayhawks dating back to their first in 1996.
- The 12-4 record marks the best start to a season since 2014 when the Jayhawks also went 12-4 before opening up conference play.
- Kansas has scored at least one run in 53 of the 132 innings it has stepped to the plate, and of those 53 innings, the Jayhawks have scored two or more runs 28 times – 53 percent of the time they score, they score multiple times in the inning.
In 2014, Kansas opened up Big 12 play at Texas (March 14-16) after starting the season 12-4. The Jayhawks won that series and went on to earn their fifth NCAA Tournament berth. Fast forward to 2018, KU sits at 12-4 as it opens up conference play at Texas (March 16-18). Kansas has only won two series on the road against the Longhorns, with the last coming in 2014.
After a 0-for-17 start to his season, junior center fielder Rudy Karre broke his hitless streak with a career-best four-hit performance against then-No. 20 St. John’s (March 9), including the first triple during his time at Kansas. That outing marked the second time this season a Jayhawk recorded four hits in a game as redshirt-sophomore right fielder Brendt Citta accomplished the same feat against Northwestern (Feb. 25).
Sophomore catcher/designated hitter Jaxx Groshans holds the longest hitting streak for Kansas at 13 games. During his streak, Groshans is batting .426 (23-for-54) with four doubles, two triples, three home runs, 19 RBIs and nine runs scored. That streak marks the longest for a Jayhawk since Michael Tinlsey also connected in 13-straight games in 2016.
Sophomore catcher/designated hitter Jaxx Groshans has started all 16 games Kansas has played in 2018, and in each contest, he has reached base safely. Dating back to the final six games of last season, Groshans has now reached base safely in 22-straight contests – the longest streak since junior David Kyriacou also reached in 22-consecutive games 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.
With the scored tied 3-3, in the bottom of the seventh inning of the series finale against then-No. 20 St. John’s (March 11), freshman third baseman Skyler Messinger launched a 3-2 fastball over the left field wall for his first-career home run – a day after recording the first RBI of his career. That swing came against one of the Red Storm’s ace left-handed relievers in Jeff Belge, who sat at 92-94 MPH during his outing. That three-run shot also allowed the Jayhawks to complete their second-consecutive weekend series sweep of the season.
Junior closer Zack Leban picked up two saves this past weekend and one Wednesday against Omaha (March 14) to bring his season total to eight in nine appearances. Leban is a perfect 8-for-8 in save opportunities and holds a 2.53 ERA in 10 and 2/3 innings pitched. Already the fastest to record eight saves in the Price era, Leban has struck out nine batters without allowing a walk. His eight saves rank atop the Big 12 Conference and are first in the nation.
COUNTDOWN TO 700
With the three-game sweep of then-No. 20 St. John’s (March 9-11) and the win against Omaha midweek (March 14), head coach Ritch Price is six 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 477 wins during his 16-year stint as the Jayhawks’ skipper, accounting for 25 percent of the program’s 1,897 victories spanning 126 seasons played.
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. 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. 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)
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).
BEST IN THE LEAUGE
Sophomore righty Ryan Zeferjahn became KU’s first Big 12 Pitcher of the Week since 2016 after that 14-strikeout performance (March 5). The last time the Jayhawks had a Big 12 Pitcher of the Week came on March 14, 2016 when Ben Krauth pitched a complete-game shutout with nine strikeouts against North Dakota.
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.
Kansas continues its road trip in Phoenix, Arizona, for a two-game midweek set against Grand Canyon (March 20-21), before heading to Waco, Texas, for three games against Baylor (March 23-25).
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