Kansas closes regular season at No. 4 Texas Tech
Kansas is coming off a weekend series win against in-state rival K-State.
at #4 TEXAS TECH
Date May 18-20
Time 6:30 PM, 6:30 PM, 2 PM
Location Lubbock, Texas
Venue Rip Griffin Park
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Notes Game Notes
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas baseball team closes out the regular season at Rip Griffin Park with a three-game conference series against No. 4 Texas Tech, May 18-20.
Kansas (29-23, 11-10 Big 12) enters the series having won eight of its last nine games, while the Red Raiders (39-13, 13-8 Big 12) need a sweep to grab a share of the Big 12 Conference regular-season title.
Fans can watch all three games on Fox Sports Southwest (TH), Fox College Sports (FRI) and Fox Sports Southwest Plus (SAT), respectively. In addition, fans can tune into the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio or on the official “Kansas Jayhawks” app to listen in live.
- Kansas has won seven three-plus-game series on the season – four 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.
- The Jayhawks hold a 9-9 record on the road in 2017.
- In those 18 games, Kansas has been outscored by its opponents, 89-76, and held to a .224 batting average.
- KU’s RPI has climbed to No. 59 with three games left against at RPI No. 4 Texas Tech.
- Kansas’ Sunflower Showdown victory over Kansas State marked the first time the Jayhawks defeated the Wildcats since 2014.
- That series win also punched KU’s ticket to the Big 12 Baseball Championship, also a first since 2014 as the squad was left out in back-to-back seasons.
- The Jayhawks have the 12th-toughest schedule in the NCAA that also ranks third toughest in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma State (2nd) and Baylor (11th) – cumulative between past and future opposition.
- Kansas has played 34 of its 52 games against RPI top-100 teams, and holds a record of 16-18 in those contests.
- Twelve of KU’s 23 losses came against NCAA Top-25 RPI teams.
- In the first 25 games of the season, KU batted .229, averaged 4.0 runs per contest and held a record of 10-15.
- Since that April 1 turnaround, the squad is hitting .278, scoring 6.2 runs per game and has tallied a record of 19-8.
Eleven players were recognized by the Big 12 Conference as the league office unveiled its 2017 Academic All-Big 12 Baseball Team. Five Jayhawks were named as repeat honorees in junior Matt McLaughlin (business administration), junior Blake Weiman (health & physical education), redshirt-junior Sean Rackoski (mechanical engineering), junior Owen Taylor (sport management) and senior Marcus Wheeler (sport management). McLaughlin, Rackoski, Taylor and Weiman racked up Academic All-Big 12 First Team honors, while Wheeler earned Academic All-Big 12 Second Team recognition. Joining the foursome on the first team were seniors MJ Farthing (human biology) and Jeremy Kravetz (journalism). Sophomores Devin Foyle (sport management), Jackson Goddard (sport management) and Blake Goldsberry (sport management), and junior Tanner Gragg (business management), along with Wheeler were all tabbed with second-team recognition.
Senior closer Stephen Villines is one save away from tying the all-time Big 12 Conference record set by Major Leaguer Huston Street (Texas, 2002-04) at 41. Villines holds the No. 2 and No. 3 season marks in KU history at 13 (2015) and 14, respectively, and ranks tied for 17th all-time in the NCAA record books with 40 saves. Since April 2 when he became the all-time saves leader in Jayhawk history, Villines has made 14 appearances, recorded eight saves, struck out 15 batters in 14 and 2/3 innings pitched, and has not allowed a run.
Head coach Ritch Price doesn’t shy away from tough competition, even with such a young team. In 2017, Kansas has the 12th-toughest schedule – cumulative with past and upcoming competition. That strength of schedule ranks third in the Big 12 Conference behind Oklahoma State (second) and Baylor (11th).
Since April 1, the Jayhawks have been building a resume consistent with those in search of an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament. Kansas has posted a record of 19-8 down the stretch, has played the 18th-most games against top-100 RPI teams (34) and the 15th-most games against top-50 RPI teams (21). To crack into the top-45 in RPI, KU would need to win the series at RPI No. 4 Texas Tech.
MR. TOUGH GUY
Sophomore centerfielder Rudy Karre set a new Kansas record for hit-by-pitches in a season when he was plunked four times against Texas Souther (May 5-7). The new season mark has been set at 25 and counting. He ranks second in the nation and first in the league in that category.
THE SECOND COMING
For the second time this season, the Big 12 Conference named freshman second baseman James Cosentino the league’s Newcomer of the Week on Monday, May 8. Cosentino paced Kansas to a 5-0 week that included a midweek win over then-No. 16 Missouri State and a four-game sweep of Texas Southern on the weekend. Cosentino had his hands involved in 18 of the Jayhawks’ runs on the week as he drove in a Big 12-best nine RBIs and touched home nine times – second in the league only to teammate Matt McLaughlin (10). If that wasn’t enough, he hit a home run in back-to-back games, drew a team-high six walks and was a perfect 3-for-3 in stolen bases. His two home runs pushed his season total to the team lead at four.
The College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA) named Kansas junior shortstop Matt McLaughlin to the Academic All-District 7 team Thursday (May 4) morning. A three-year starter at shortstop, McLaughlin holds a 3.51 grade-point average (GPA) while majoring in business administration. He was named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team in 2016, the All-Big 12 Honorable Mention Team in 2015 and 2016, the Big 12 All-Freshman Team in 2015 and the Academic All-Big 12 Rookie Team in 2015. He is the 12th player to don this honor in Kansas history, and the first since 2011 when outfielder Casey Lytle earned the recognition.
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 14 saves on the season and leads the Big 12 Conference in that category. So far in 2017, Villines has posted a 2.63 ERA in 37 and 2/3 innings pitched and struck out 28.8 percent of the batters he has faced (46-of-160). In his last 17 appearances, Villines has earned 10 saves, and has converted on 10 of his last 11 save attempts.
Kansas has played 52 games so far in 2017 and only three Jayhawks have started each of those contests. Sophomore Devin Foyle made all 52 of his starts in the outfield – 43 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 49 starts in center field, two at designated hitter and one at third base.
ACTIVE CAREER SAVES LEADER
Senior closer Stephen Villines picked up his 13th and 14th saves against K-State during Senior Weekend to push his career total to 40. That number ranks first in the Big 12 Conference and first in the NCAA for the most saves in a career by an active pitcher. Villines is one of two Power Five closers in the top-10 in active career saves (10th – Troy Montemayor, Baylor ).
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 464 wins account for 25 percent of the program’s 1,884 victories spanning 125 seasons.
Kansas heads on to the Big 12 Baseball Championship at Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, May 24-28, with seeds and opponents yet to be determined.
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