Kansas hits road for midweek set in Omaha
LAWRENCE, Kan. – After a seven-game homestand, the Kansas baseball team hits the road for Omaha, Nebraska, to play midweek games against Omaha and Creighton, April 10-11, at both Werner and TD Ameritrade Parks.
Kansas (18-13) is coming off its best offensive performance of the year after scoring a season-high 17 runs against then-No. 5 Texas Tech. Omaha (11-17) enters the midweek bout losing three-straight, while Creighton (18-7) has won eight of its last nine contests.
Both games can be heard on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio and on the dial at 1510 AM and 99.3 FM KCTE. In addition, Wednesday’s game at Creighton will also be televised on the CBS Sports Network.
- Kansas’ all-time record: 1,903-1,826-18 (.510)
- Head coach Ritch Price’s record in Division I: 700-671-4 (.511)
- Price’s record at Kansas: 483-443-3 (.522)
- Kansas has won six of the eight weekend series it has played including sweeps over then-No. 20 St. John’s and Texas Southern.
- The Jayhawks scored a season-high 17 runs to 10-run rule then-No. 5 Texas Tech Sunday (April 8) – the most runs against a Power Five team and in conference play since April 30, 2010 at Oklahoma State (W, 17-3).
- That win over the Red Raiders marked the first run rule victory for KU in league play since defeating then-No. 11 K-State, 17-7, on May 17, 2009.
- Kansas owns a record of 3-4 in midweek matchups, including a 1-3 mark on the road.
- In those seven games, the Jayhawks have been outscored by their opponents by an average of 8.4 – 5.1 runs per contest.
- KU Big 12 ranks: SLG% – 2nd/.421; BA – 2nd/.282; OB% – 2nd/.385
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. Only 18 other active Power Five coaches can say they have accomplished that feat. Already the all-time winningest coach in Kansas history, Price has amassed 483 wins during his 16-year stint as the Jayhawks’ skipper, accounting for 25.4 percent of the program’s 1,903 victories spanning 126 seasons played.
Kansas has scored in 94 of the 268 innings it has come to the plate. Of those 94 innings, the Jayhawks have scored two or more runs in 52 of those frames – 55.3 percent of the time the Jayhawks score, they score more than one run. Of those multi-run innings, KU plates three or more 48.0 percent of the time. Kansas’ biggest innings of 2018 came on Sunday, April 8 against then-No. 5 Texas Tech, when it scored six runs in both the fourth and sixth innings, respectively.
When it comes to batting average, slugging percentage and on-base percentage, Kansas finds itself ranked second in each category in the Big 12 Conference behind Texas Tech. The Jayhawks hold a .282 average – .023 behind the Red Raiders’ leading .305; KU slugs .421 – .078 off the pace of TTU’s .499; and Kansas reaches base at a clip of .385 – .046 back of Texas Tech. The last time the Jayhawks saw these type of numbers at this point in the season came in 2015 – .289 BA, .403 SLG% and .380 OB%.
BACK ON GRASS
When Kansas takes on Omaha and Creighton in Omaha, Nebraska, it will be the eighth and ninth times this season the Jayhawks have played on a natural surface. In the seven games they have already played on grass, KU holds a 3-4 record, has committed 18 errors and been outscored 66-40.
EXPERIENCE IS EVERYTHING
Through the first 31 games in 2017, 72.4 percent of the starts accounted for by the position players were made by underclassmen (freshmen and sophomores). That young group of Jayhawks saw its batting average register in at .230, its slugging at .302 and its on-base percentage at .319 in those first 31 contests. Fast forward to 2018, KU is a year older and more experienced, thus showing some major improvements with the bat and at the plate. Kansas has seen its batting average rise .052 to its current .282 clip; its slugging up .120 to .422 and its on-base rise to .386, a .067 improvement.
FORECAST CALLS FOR TOUGHNESS
Kansas has played 21 home games, including six weekend series thus far with an average mean temperature on those days coming in at 40.6 degrees Fahrenheit. The Jayhawks have won five of those six weekend series, posting a record of 15-6 in those 21 contests. KU is no stranger to cold weather and its three-game series against then-No. 5 Texas Tech registered an average mean temperature of 33.3 degrees, with Sunday’s (April 8) contest exhibiting snow, sleet and freezing rain. Away from Hoglund Ballpark, Kansas has experienced an average mean temperature of 69.8 degrees with the two-game midweek set in Omaha slated to be in the same temperature range.
CLIMBING THE LADDER
Righty Ryan Zeferjahn continues to string together one of the top sophomore campaigns a Jayhawk has ever had. Zeferjahn ranks first in the Big 12 and eighth in the nation with six victories; first in the league in strikeouts (56); and second in the conference in strikeouts per nine innings (10.80). No Kansas pitcher has ever finished atop the league in strikeouts or strikeouts per nine innings, and the last KU hurler to lead the Big 12 in wins was Drew Morovick (10) in 2014.
SEVEN, EIGHT, AND NINE
Kansas is a perfect 14-0 when leading after six innings; 15-0 when leading after seven innings; and 16-0 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 13 appearances during the team’s 18 wins, thrown a combined 42 and 1/3 innings and struck out 40 hitters. En route, Cyr has picked up four wins, while Leban leads the Big 12 and ranks fourth in the nation with 10 saves.
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 fourth in the nation in that category.
Senior lefty Taylor Turski and sophomore righty Ryan Zeferjahn did something that head coach Ritch Price has been waiting for – get to the eighth inning. Turski willed his way through a career-high eight innings on the bump in Friday’s loss to Morehead State (March 30) before Zeferjahn tossed a personal-best eight shutout innings against the Eagles to earn Kansas the series victory on Saturday (March 31). The Jayhawks played 32 innings on the weekend against Morehead State, and the duo combined to pitch 50 percent of the innings. Both performances saved a taxed bullpen that threw a combined nine and 2/3 innings during Thursday’s (March 29) 12-inning affair.
Kansas returns home to continue Big 12 play when it hosts TCU at Hoglund Ballpark, April 13-15. This will be the first time the Jayhawks match up against an unranked-Horned Frog team since April 11-12, 2014.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.