Kansas Welcomes Oral Roberts for Home Opener
LAWRENCE, Kan. – After playing its first 15 games on the road to start the 2014 season, the Kansas baseball team plays host to Oral Roberts Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m., at Hoglund Ballpark.
The Jayhawks (12-3) won their 12th game of the season Friday night at Stanford (March 7), for the second-most wins in the span of the first 15 games to start a season in program history, with the 13-2 start in 1921 and 1923 ranking first.
The game can be heard live on Jayhawk Digital Passport through KUAthletics.com/Showcase with Sean Kellerman and Tom Hedrick calling the action.
Fans can also watch the game live on ESPN3, accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app, through ESPN on Xbox Live to Gold Members and on AppleTV. Nate Bukaty Will handle the play-by-play with former Kansas baseball player Scott Heitshusen.
- The Jayhawks won their 12th game of the season Friday night against Stanford, for the first victory against the Cardinal in the last five attempts with the last win coming Feb. 11, 2006 (5-4).
- Kansas stranded a season-high 35 baserunners over the weekend, including a season and Big 12 single game-high of 16 (March 7).
- KU pitchers held Stanford scoreless in 23 innings over the weekend, including four in extra innings Friday night (March 7).
- The 12-3 start for the Jayhawks is the second-most wins in the span of the first 15 games of a season in program history, with the 13-2 start in 1921 and 1923 ranking first.
- For the first time in 2014, and the first time in the last 22 games dating back to May 18, 2013, Kansas was shutout on the road at Stanford (March 9), where the Cardinal defeated KU 1-0.
- Kansas was held to its second-lowest hit total (4) of 2014 in its loss at Stanford, 1-0, Sunday, March 19.
- Connor McKay’s offesnsive production is the anchor of the Jayhawk lineup, as he leads the Big 12 in RBIs (24), is tied for first in home runs (4) and ranks third in slugging percentage (.661).
SERIES HISTORY: Kansas and Oral Roberts have met 40 times in the history of the two programs with the Golden Eagles holding a two game advantage (21-19). However, the Jayhawks have the edge at home with a 9-4 record against ORU, but have lost the last two meetings; at ORU (1-9, Feb. 27, 2007) and vs. ORU (3-4 , May 11, 2004). The two squads first met for a four-game series in 1971, where Oral Roberts won three of those contests. In the Price era, Kansas has played the Golden Eagles six times, winning just two of those games.
SCOUTING REPORT: The Golden Eagles travel to Lawrence with a 6-8 record and a 1-5 record on the road. In its last seven games, Oral Roberts holds 5-2 record, including a four-game sweep of Harvard (Feb. 28-March 1). Junior infielder Matt Brandy leads ORU with a .364 average (20-for-55) with four doubles, two home runs and 12 RBIs for a .545 slugging percentage. Two other players are over the .300 mark with senior infielder Brandon Healy (.333) and junior outfielder Emmanuel Forcier (.302) leading the charge. Healy has three doubles and seven RBIs on the season while Forcier has a triple three RBIs and 11 runs scored.
ORU probable starter, junior right hander Phillip Wilson has seen action in three games this season, holding an 0-1 record with an 11.57 ERA. In two and third innings pitched, Wilson has given up 12 hits, 7 runs and a walk, and is yet to record a strikeout.
LAST TIME OUT: Kansas took an 11-1 record into Klein Field at Sunken Diamond, where it played a three-game series against Stanford, March 7-9. Friday night’s game was decided in 13 innings and four and a half hours with the Jayhawks coming out on top 4-2 for their 12th win of the season. However, stranded base runners was the difference on the weekend as the Cardinal bounced back to win game two, 5-4, and took the rubber match, 1-0, behind the complete-game shutout by freshman Cal Quantrill.
AROUND THE HORN:
- Junior right fielder Connor McKay had his hands involved in six of KU’s eight runs on the weekend, after batting .313 (5-for-16) with two doubles, a triple, five RBIs and a run scored.
- Junior shortstop Justin Protacio snapped his 11-game hit streak after his hitless performance Saturday (March 8) against the Cardinal. However, he extended his on-base streak to 27 games, after reaching safely in all three contests on the weekend.
- Senior righty Frank Duncan tossed his second complete game on the season in the loss Sunday (March 9) to Stanford. He also surrendered his first walk in 2014 on a controversial ball-four call, which allowed a Stanford hitter a free pass in the fifth inning.
- The Jayhawks batted just .167 with runners on base against Stanford, recording just 10 hits in 60 at bats. On the season, KU holds a .345 average with runners on base, tallying 102 hits.
- With two outs, Kansas holds a .339 average (63-for-186), while batting just .216 on the weekend (8-for-37).
- Fourteen of Connor McKay‘s 24 RBIs have come with two outs and he is second on the team with a .423 two-out batting average as a regular in the KU lineup.
- Senior catcher Ka’iana Eldredge leads all Jayhawks with a .563 batting average with two outs (9-for-16), driving in five runs in the process.
- Kansas was held scoreless in 27 innings on the weekend, the most of the season, while holding the Cardinal to zeros in all but six innings.
STOP THE BLEEDING: After starting pitcher Robert Kahana gave up five runs in the first three innings in Saturday’s loss to Stanford (March 8), the Kansas bullpen stepped up and combined for five scoreless innings to give the Jayhawks a chance to win late in the game. Junior righty Drew Morovick tossed three and one-third innings, allowing three hits, while junior Dakota Smith tossed one and two-thirds innings, giving up one hit while striking out three Cardinal batters.
EPIC BATTLE: After a costly KU error in the ninth and a couple of Stanford hits took the save away from senior closer Jordan Piche’ Friday night at Stanford (March 7), he found himself in a different role, grinding through five innings to give the Jayhawks the opportunity to win. No inning was more important than the 12th, when he found himself in a bases-loaded jam for the second time on the night, this time with no outs. Piche’ almost hit the first batter he faced with the bases loaded, but later induced a lineout to sophomore Tommy Mirabelli at second. He then got a routine ground ball to junior shortstop Justin Protacio, who patiently tossed it to senior catcher Ka’iana Eldredge for the second out. Piche’ then fell behind in the count 3-0 to Stanford’s Tommy Edman, heightening the stress level for Jayhawk fans in attendance yet again. Once more though, Piche’ battled back, getting Edman to fly out to right field, compliments of a diving catch by junior right fielder Connor McKay. Uncharacteristic of the senior closer, that was Piche’s second blown save on the year, the other coming Northwestern (Feb. 21).
KANSAS RUNS ON DUNCAN: Senior right hander Frank Duncan tossed his second complete game of the season, Sunday (March 9) in the 1-0 loss at Stanford. In his first three starts, the hurler has tossed 31 and one-third innings, allowing 22 hits, nine runs and just one walk. En route to his 2-1 record, Duncan has struck out a team-high 31 batters and leads the Big 12 in complete games (2). Prior to his complete game at Stanford, Duncan pitched an absolute gem against Houston Baptist (March 1), going the distance for a two-hit shutout, striking out 10 Huskies in the process. It only took 98 pitches and one hour and 51 minutes for Duncan to accomplish that feat, as he faced just one batter over the minimum and retired the last 18 batters he faced. That performance came just one week after recording a career-high 14 strikeouts against Mississippi Valley State (Feb. 23) in seven and two-thirds innings pitched. He allowed just four hits and one earned run in that start to earn Collegiate Baseball Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week and Big 12 Pitcher of the Week honors. His 14 strikeouts were the most by a pitcher in a single game since Mike Zagurski struck out 13 against Northern Colorado (Feb. 25, 2005). Duncan was the first Jayhawk to earn a national weekly honor since Shaeffer Hall earned the same honor (Feb. 24, 2009).
UP NEXT: Kansas heads to Austin, Texas, to open Big 12 play against No. 10/14 Texas, March 14-16, before heading straight to New Mexico for a quick two-game series March 18-19. After the five-game road stretch, KU returns home to host the Millard Management Classic against Dartmouth (March 21-23) at Hoglund Ballpark.
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