Jayhawks Travel to Creighton for Mid-Week Action
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Following a series win against Dartmouth over the weekend, the Kansas baseball team heads north for mid-week action against Creighton, Wednesday, March 26 at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha. First pitch is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
The Jayhawks (16-8, 2-1 Big 12) defeated Dartmouth twice in the first home series at Hoglund Ballpark in 2014, after dropping two tough road contests to New Mexico (March 18-19).
The game against the Bluejays can be heard on Jayhawk Digital Passport through KUAthletics.com/Showcase with Sean Kellerman calling the action. Subscription prices are as follows: $2.95/day, $6.95/month or $49.95/year.
- After dropping two tough mid-week road contests at New Mexico (March 18-19), the Jayhawks got back to their winning ways, taking two out of three games from Dartmouth (March 21-23), averaging 8.67 runs per game.
- Kansas holds a record of 0-3 in mid-week contests this season, being outscored by an average 3.33 runs per game.
- In the eight losses this season, KU has left an average of 8.25 runners on base, including a season high 13 against Dartmouth (March 23), while batting .221 (19-for-86) with two outs.
- KU tallied a season-high 19 hits against Dartmouth Friday night (March 21), including six doubles, two triples and a home run.
- With two outs this season, Kansas holds a batting average of .301 (101-for-291), driving in 66 runs in the process.
- The two losses at New Mexico (March 18-19) mark the third mid-week loss this season, compared to the 8-2 record the Jayhawks recorded during the week in 2013.
- For the fourth time under 12th-year head coach Ritch Price, Kansas opened Big 12 play with a series win, taking down No. 10 Texas (March 14-16) two games to one.
- The series win over No. 10 Texas marked the first one on the road against the Longhorns since 1996 when KU took two games from UT when it was ranked 18th-nationally (Feb. 16-18).
- Junior Connor McKay continues to be the anchor of the KU offense, as he ranks third nationally and first in the Big 12 with 34 RBIs and tied for second in the conference with five home runs.
SERIES HISTORY: Kansas and the Bluejays have met 33 times prior to Wednesday’s game, with Creighton leading the all-time series 22-11. The Jayhawks are 5-5 against Creighton during the tenure of head coach Ritch Price, including four-straight losses dating back to April 26, 2011. The last time KU posted a win against the Bluejays was April 7, 2010, when the Jayhawks took a 5-4 victory in Omaha. The two teams first met in 1903 with Kansas winning the contest, 15-13.
SCOUTING REPORT: Creighton is coming off a 2-1 performance over the last week, dropping a close one, 5-4, to Nebraska (March 19), before beating Fresno State twice at home. As a team, the Bluejays are batting .249 with 161 hits, 26 doubles, five triples and eight home runs in 19 games. Three players are batting over .300, with sophomore infielder Reagan Fowler leading the charge with a .324 average.
Senior outfielder Mike Gerber leads the offensive production for Creighton with 20 RBIs off of 21 hits, including three doubles, a triple and four home runs. Junior infielder Jake Peter (15) and senior outfielder Brad McKewon (13) are the only other two position players with double-digit RBIs. McKewon also holds a .313 average.
On the bump, the Bluejays hold a team ERA of 3.61 with sophomore righty Austin Groth holding down a team-best 2.96 ERA as a starter. The Jayhawks will likely see sophomore right hander Taylor Elman (1-1). In 23 innings of work, Elman has given up 15 runs off 22 hits, including six doubles, a triple and a home run, while striking out 11.
LAST TIME OUT: After playing 20-of-21 games on the road to start 2014, the Jayhawks played their first true home series of the season, taking two out of three games from Dartmouth (March 21-23). Kansas outscored the Big Green 26-15, while tallying 41 hits on the weekend. The only loss KU suffered came on Sunday (March 23), after the team rallied together and shoveled off the field prior to the start of the game. The 3-2 loss in extra-innings was the first loss for Kansas this season in bonus play.
AROUND THE HORN:
- Junior right fielder Connor McKay tallied five hits and five RBIs against the Big Green, pushing his Big 12-leading total to 34 RBIs, seven more than anyone else in the league. In addition, his RBI total ranks second in the nation, while he ranks tied for second in the Big 12 in home runs (5), fourth in the in total bases (53) and sixth in slugging percentage (.570).
- Junior left fielder Michael Suiter led all hitters with a .538 average on the weekend, hitting three doubles, driving in three runs and scoring four times. His 26 runs scored on the year ranks second in the Big 12.
- Junior designated hitter Dakota Smith boasted a career-high five RBIs against Dartmouth (March 22), capped off by a one-out grand slam in the sixth inning. That was the first home run for Smith since March 3, 2013. On the weekend, he batted .500 (6-for-12) with a double, a triple, a home run, a walk, eight RBIs and three runs scored for a 1.000 slugging percentage.
- Junior first baseman Blair Beck got his first series start of the season, starting all three contests against the Big Green, where he tallied four hits for three RBIs and a run scored.
- Also starting all three games of a weekend series for the first time this season, sophomore second baseman Colby Wright batted .308 (4-for-13) with a double, an RBI and six runs scored.
- Junior third baseman Aaron Hernandez got his bat going again with a 6-for-12 (.500) performance at the plate, including two doubles, a triple, an RBI and three runs scored.
- Junior shortstop Justin Protacio reached base safely in all three contests over the weekend, extending his on-base streak to 34 games, dating back to last season.
- Senior right hander Frank Duncan tossed five scoreless innings against Dartmouth (March 23), allowing just two runs off nine hits and a walk, while striking out seven batters. Those seven strikeouts move his career total to 228 and into fourth all-time in KU history.
- Seventeen of Connor McKay‘s 34 RBIs have come with two outs and he is second on the team with a .400 two-out batting average as a regular in the KU lineup.
- Kansas holds a .354 average with runners on base this season, tallying 157 hits in 440 at bats. Against Dartmouth, the Jayhawks batted .422 with runners on base and .324 with two outs. The team also recorded 10 two-out RBIs.
- Frank Duncan‘s 41 strikeouts ranks him tied for second in the Big 12, sitting 24 behind conference leader Brandon Finnegan (65) of TCU.
- Both Frank Duncan and Wes Benjamin rank atop the conference leaderboard for innings pitched, as Duncan ranks first with 45.1 innings, while Benjamin ranks fifth with 40.0 innings.
- Frank Duncan also leads the Big 12 in most complete games, with two.
YAHTZEE: Junior designated hitter Dakota Smith and senior centerfielder Tucker Tharp accomplished a feat Saturday (March 22) that hadn’t been done since March 8, 2009, hitting back-to-back home runs in a game. Smith’s bombski was a one-out grand slam over the fence in right center in the sixth inning, with Tharp following with a solo shot over the left field wall. The last tandem to accomplish this feat was Buck Afenir and Tony Thompson against Northwestern.
ALL FOR ONE: Nine different players combined for a season-high 19 hits and 13 RBIs against Dartmouth (March 21) with six different Jayhawks tallying multiple-hit efforts. Junior right fielder Connor McKay boasted a 3-for-5 performance at the plate, including a double, home run, four RBIs and a runs scored. Sophomore second baseman Colby Wright (3-for-5), junior designated hitter Dakota Smith (3-for-5) and junior third baseman Aaron Hernandez (3-for-4) also had three hits apiece and at least two runs scored, with Wright scoring three times. Junior shortstop Justin Protacio and junior left fielder Michael Suiter rounded out the last two KU players with multiple hits on the night, as Protacio batted 2-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored while Suiter hit 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored.
ALL ABOUT CLASS: Kansas baseball’s senior closer and the 2013 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, Jordan Piche’, was named one of 30 candidates to be considered for the 2014 Senior CLASS Award in collegiate baseball, as announced by the committee March 19. Piche’ is one of three Big 12 baseball players to appear on the list of 30. Joining him on the list from the conference are Ross Kivett (Kansas State) and Mark Payton (Texas). The prestigious award selects senior student-athletes based on the following categories: community, classroom, character and competition.
UP NEXT: The Jayhawks will host their second weekend home series of the season, as they continue Big 12 play against Oklahoma, Friday, March 28 – Sunday, March 30. All three games will be available for viewing on ESPN3, with Sunday’s contest on ESPN3 and JTV. First pitch Friday is slated for 6 p.m. Saturday’s game will begin at 2 p.m., with the series finale Sunday at 1 p.m.
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