Jayhawks Close 10-Game Homestand with Big Ten's Iowa

Head coach Ritch Price picked up his 400th-career victory with last Sunday’s 8-4 win over Michigan (March 15).
 Kansas vs. Iowa
Date: March 20-22, 2015
Ballpark: Hoglund Ballpark
Location: Lawrence, Kan.
Radio: Jayhawk Radio Network
Live Stats: Kansas Live Stats
Notes: Game Notes
 Impact Players
C. McKay .351 77 12 27 7
C. Wright .338 65 16 22 4
T. Peyton .356 45 6 16 7
J. Booker .344 64 6 22 10
Kansas W-L ERA IP K
B. Krauth 3-2 6.23 30.1 25
S. Rackoski 0-2 6.65 23.0 13
T. Peyton 2-1 2.82 22.1 21
B. Hickman 2-1 2.39 26.1 17
C. Mathews 2-0 0.42 21.1 13

LAWRENCE, Kan. – After picking up a crucial series win against Michigan, the Kansas baseball team welcomes in another Big Ten foe, Iowa, for a three-game set, March 20-22, at Hoglund Ballpark to close out its 10-game homestand in the month of March.
With quality opponent after quality opponent, a series win this past weekend just may be what the Jayhawks needed to propel themselves into conference play.
“From opening weekend at LSU to this last weekend against Michigan, we have played quality opponents five weekends in a row,” senior shortstop Justin Protacio said. “They are the same type of opponents we are going to see in league play. They have solid pitching, they can hit the ball, they can run and they can play defense. They do everything they are supposed to do and it is just preparing us that much earlier for what we are going to see in conference play.”
Kansas has played a tough non-conference schedule to date and it seems that the lucky number thus far for the squad is six runs. When the Jayhawks score six or more runs, the team is undefeated on the season with a perfect 8-0 mark. However, when they score five runs or less, the team is winless, going 0-12.
“From our first hitters meeting of the year, that is what we had in our hitters plan, six runs a game,” Protacio said. “It has kind of been like that every year, but especially this year, we are trying to make a bigger emphasis on it with our younger pitching. The more runs we put up, the more comfortable our pitchers get and they have an easier time throwing strikes and getting into their rhythm.”
Six runs seems like a lot, especially against quality opponents KU will face in conference play, and after last weekend’s series win over Michigan, head coach Ritch Price believes his team is headed in the right direction as the league slate approaches.
“That was the first weekend we had three quality starts on the mound,” Price said. “It all starts with starting pitching. We had three quality starts and were in a position on Saturday to win that game, but a defensive miscue in the eighth inning took that away from us. If we can continue to get three quality starts on the mound and keep scoring runs like we have been doing, we are going to be in a good place when the conference season starts.”
The Hawkeyes enter the weekend with a 12-4 overall record and arguably one of the best starts in program history. As a team, Iowa is holding its opponents to 2.8 runs per game and a .210 batting average. Right-hander Calvin Mathews paces the Hawkeye pitching with a 0.42 ERA in four starts, while fellow righties Blake Hickman and Tyler Peyton are both under 3.00 with ERAs of 2.39 and 2.82, respectively.
Offensively, Peyton leads the squad with a .356 average, while outfielder Joel Booker (.344) and infielder Jake Mangler (.318) lead the team with 10 RBIs a piece. Iowa won nine-straight, following a season-opening loss to Kansas State (Feb. 13). The only series not won by the Hawkeyes thus far is a 2-2 split this past weekend (March 14-17) with Houston Baptist in a four-game set.
“Iowa is coming in here with a starting rotation all under a 3.00 ERA,” Price said. “This is another power five quality opponent and they are off to one of the best starts in program history. We are going to need to play better than we played last weekend to have a shot at winning another series.”
All three games of the series against the Hawkeyes can be seen live on ESPN3 through WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app, through ESPN on Xbox Live to Gold Members and on Apple TV. In addition, all three games can be heard live on the Jayhawk Radio Network through KUAthletics.com/Radio.
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