Kansas road trip continues at Grand Canyon
PHOENIX, Ariz. – The Kansas baseball team’s 10-day road trip continues Tuesday, March 20, as the Jayhawks open up a two-game midweek set against Grand Canyon at Brazell Field inside GCU Ballpark.
Kansas (12-7) and the ‘Lopes (6-12) have met 11 times in the history of the two programs, with the Jayhawks edging the all-times series, 6-4-1.
Both games can be seen on the WAC Digital Network via WACsports.com/watch. In addition, the contests can also be heard on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio.
- Kansas’ all-time record: 1,897-1,820-18 (.510)
- Head coach Ritch Price’s record in Division I: 694-665-4 (.511)
- Price’s record at Kansas: 477-437-3 (.522)
- Kansas dropped its first series of the season when it was swept in a three-game set at Texas (March 16-18) to open up Big 12 play.
- That three-game sweep snapped a streak of four-straight series wins for the Jayhawks – the longest since accomplishing the same feat in 2004.
- The last time Kansas was swept in its Big 12 series opener came in 2012 at then-No. 27 Baylor (March 23-25).
- KU is yet to win a game on the road, posting a 0-5 mark in five games played away from Hoglund Ballpark.
- In those five contests, Kansas has been outscored 45-20 and been held to a team .244 batting average compared to its opponents’ .321 clip.
- On the mound in those games, KU hurlers have surrendered an average of 10.2 hits, 6.4 walks and 9.0 runs per game, respectively.
- The two games at Grand Canyon (March 20-21) mark the fourth and fifth games, respectively, of an eight-game road swing.
- The last time the Jayhawks played eight true road games in a row came in 2015 (March 24 – April 4).
Kansas is 0-5 in true road contests during the 2018 season. As a team, the Jayhawks are hitting just .244 away from Hoglund Ballpark averaging 8.6 hits and 8.8 strikeouts per game. KU’s opponents are hitting .321 in those games and average 10.2 hits and 9.0 runs per contest. KU has been outscored 45-20 in those games.
The Jayhawks are a perfect 10-0 when leading after six innings; 11-0 when leading after seven innings; and 12-0 when leading after eight innings. Those numbers mimic how head coach Ritch Price has aligned his bullpen. Redshirt-sophomore Ryan Cyr and junior closer Zack Leban have combined to close out nine of the 12 victories for KU on the season. The duo has made nine appearances during those 12 wins, thrown a combined 26 and 1/3 innings, allowed five earned runs, and struck out 22 hitters. En route, Cyr has picked up three wins, while Leban leads the Big 12 and ranks second in the nation with eight saves.
Junior closer Zack Leban is a perfect 8-for-8 in save opportunities and holds a 2.53 ERA in 11 and 1/3 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 second in the nation.
In 19 games, the Jayhawks have combined for a .453 slugging percentage with 42 doubles, 10 triples and 14 home runs, and an average of 3.5 extra-base hits per contest. That slugging percentage is up .135 from last season at this time as KU had only hit 30 doubles, three triples and four home runs through the first 19 games of 2017 – the Jayhawks finished the season with an average of 2.2 extra-base hits per game and a .345 slugging percentage.
TURNING IT AROUND
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). Since that game, Karre is batting .393 in the last seven contests with a double, two triples, a home run, a .679 slugging and a .485 on-base percentage.
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.
COUNTDOWN TO 700
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.
Kansas head coach Ritch Price is the most tenured skipper in the Big 12 Conference as he has coached in 384 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. 384 – Ritch Price, Kansas (16th season)
2. 358 – Brad Hill, K-State (15th season)
3. 123 – 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 LEAGUE
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.
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 eight-game road trip in Waco, Texas, for three games against Baylor (March 23-25).
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