Kansas Welcomes West Virginia to Open Big 12 Play
Watch SundayNotes Game NotesRadio ListenStats Live StatsCalendar ScheduleRoster RosterTickets TicketsLAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas baseball team opens up Big 12 play March 25-27 at Hoglund Ballpark, as the Jayhawks play host to West Virginia for a three-game set.
The Jayhawks (7-11) have won back-to-back series and six of their last eight games over the Mountaineers (10-8) and look to get back on track after being swept at Stanford (March 18-20). All three games of the series can be seen on ESPN3 while a live audio broadcast is also available via KUAthletics.com/Radio. Saturday’s (March 26) contest can also be heard on the dial at KJHK 90.7 FM.
- Kansas enters the weekend with an all-time record of 1,842-1,760-17.
- Head coach Ritch Price is in his 22nd season as a Division I head coach with a record of 638-607-3 (.512).
- Price holds a record of 422-378-2 (.528) at Kansas, and is just 17 wins from becoming KU’s all-time winningest coach (Floyd Temple, 438).
- The Jayhawks open up Big 12 play at home for the first time since 2011 when it hosted Oklahoma State (March 18-20).
- Kansas has won back-to-back series against the Mountaineers (2014 & 15), and six of its last eight games overall. The last time WVU trekked to Lawrence, Kansas swept them in a three-game set (May 9-11, 2014).
- Senior second baseman Colby Wright led the Jayhawks with a .533 average (8-for-15) in five starts over the week including two doubles, five RBIs, five walks, two hit-by-pitches and three runs scored. His .733 slugging percentage was second only to freshman left fielder Devin Foyle and his .682 on-base percentage ranked first.
Kansas and West Virginia have played 11 times since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12 Conference and the Jayhawks hold the advantage in the all-time series, 6-5. KU has won back-to-back series and six of its last eight games against WVU. The last and only other time the Mountaineers made the trip to Lawrence, Kansas completed a three-game sweep of West Virginia, May 9-11, 2014, propelling itself to a top-25 ranking and its highest finish in the history of the Big 12 (3rd).
West Virginia is well represented across the nation, including 12 players from Texas, the same state that freshman righty Chris Fearon and freshman outfielder Peyton Grassanovits (redshirting 2016 season) are from – none of them played against each other. There are five players from Ohio, that are now Mountaineers, the same state that Kansas senior infielder Tommy Mirabelli calls home. Mirabelli will see fellow Cleveland area natives in WVU’s Caleb Potter and Ray Guerrini when he looks across the diamond.
WEST VIRGINIA HEAD COACH RANDY MAZEY
Randy Mazey is in the midst of his fourth year at the helm of the West Virginia baseball team. The Mountaineers are coming off a 28-26 clip last year which qualified them for the Big 12 Championship for the second-straight season. In 2015, West Virginia averaged a league-best hitting percentage (.287). In his first season at WVU, Mazey led his squad to an improbable 33-26 record with a 13-11 mark in league play after being picked to finish last in the Big 12 preseason poll. That team finished third in the final conference standings. Aside from his current position at WVU, Mazey has head coaching experience at East Carolina (2006-07) and Charleston Southern (1994-96). Prior to arriving at WVU, he spent six seasons as an assistant coach at TCU, being named associate head coach for the Horned Frogs the final three years of his tenure. With Mazey on the coaching staff, TCU compiled a record of 269-106 and won at least 40 games each season.
Riding a four-game losing streak, West Virginia arrives in Lawrence with the third-best batting average (.285) and second-best slugging percentage (.438) in the Big 12, and scores an average of 5.1 runs per contest through 18 games played. Four WVU regulars hold batting averages over .300 with freshman infielder Kyle Gray leading the way with a .333 clip. Freshman outfielder Darius Hill does most of the damage with his bat as he has driven in a team-high 13 RBIs. Two other Mountaineers boast double-digit RBIs in sophomore infielder Kyle Davis (11) and junior first baseman Jackson Cramer (10). Hill and Davis also hold slugging percentages over .500 at .554 and .507, respectively. On the mound, WVU tallies a league-best 8.66 strikeouts per nine innings and holds opponents to a .248 average and 4.4 runs per game. The Jayhawks will see RHP Chad Donato, LHP Ross Vance and RHP BJ Myers in the three-game series. Vance holds a team-low 2.70 ERA and has struck out 25 batters in 26 and 2/3 innings pitched. Myers also holds an ERA under 3.00, coming in at 2.86 in five starts. Donato has made five starts and struck out a Big 12-leading 37 batters in 30 and 2/3 innings, and holds a 3.52 ERA.
GOING THE DISTANCE
Senior lefty Ben Krauth has pitched back-to-back complete games and has given up just two runs in his last 17 innings pitched. In addition, Krauth has tied his career-high nine strikeouts in both of those starts and leads Kansas with 30 strikeouts on the season – that ranks fifth in the Big 12 Conference. For his performance against North Dakota (March 11), Krauth was named the Big 12 Conference’s Pitcher of the Week. Krauth (1-3) kick-started KU’s perfect 3-0 weekend in the Millard Management Classic when he threw the first complete-game shutout of his Jayhawk career in a 7-0 win over the Fighting Hawks. With that effort, he became the first pitcher in the Big 12 this season to toss a complete-game shutout. In fact, no one else in the league has even tossed a complete game – Krauth has two. If that wasn’t enough, he is also the first Jayhawk to accomplish that feat since Jordan Piche´ threw a one-hit shutout at Baylor in 2014 (April 25).
Senior second baseman Colby Wright and junior centerfielder Joven Afenir are riding team-high and season-long seven-game hitting streaks. During the streak, Wright is batting .526 (10-for-19) with three doubles, a home run, seven RBIs and six runs scored to go along with a team-best .842 slugging and .700 on-base percentage. Afenir is batting .346 during his streak that includes two doubles, a triple, five runs scored, a .500 slugging and .455 on-base percentage.
Senior lefty Ben Krauth has one of the best pickoff moves in the country. In five starts, Krauth has picked off five base runners and is tied for the NCAA lead in that category among pitchers. Since joining the Jayhawks in 2015, Krauth has picked off 13 base runners in 19 starts and averages 0.68 per game. He is four pickoffs away from tying the single-season record set by Tom Gorzelanny (9) in 2002 and holds the most career pickoffs by a Jayhawk in the Price era. Only 10 players in Division I baseball have picked off four or more base runners with Krauth and East Carolina’s Jacob Wolfe leading the way among pitchers. The only person to pick off more than those two is Evansville catcher Boomer Synek (6). *All Division I schools accounted for in these numbers except UC Santa Barbara, Cal State Fullerton, Lamar, Texas A&M Corpus Christi, New York Tech and Oral Roberts where pickoff numbers couldn’t be found.
The Jayhawks welcome in No. 10 Missouri State for midweek action Tuesday, March 29, before continuing Big 12 play on the road at Baylor, April 1-3, at Baylor Ballpark in Waco, Texas. First pitch against Missouri State is slated for 6 p.m., and can be seen on ESPN3. All three games at Baylor can be seen on FOX Sports+ with a live audio broadcast available on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio.
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