Rivalry Week Continues, Jayhawks Head to Kansas State
LAWRENCE, Kan. – After a 4-2 win over Wichita State Tuesday in midweek action, rivalry week continues for the Kansas baseball team as the Jayhawks travel to Manhattan to play in-state rival and conference foe Kansas State in a three game series April 4-6 at Tointon Family Stadium.
First pitch Friday is set for 6:30 p.m., while Saturday’s and Sunday’s games are scheduled for 2 p.m. and 1 p.m., respectively. The Jayhawks (19-10, 3-3 Big 12) are winless against the Wildcats (17-11, 1-2 Big 12) in their last four attempts.
The three game series against the Wildcats can be seen on Time Warner Cable SportsChannel and Cox 22. Mark Ewing (Friday and Saturday) and Brian Smoller (Sunday) will handle the play-by-play alongside Mike Clark.
The games can also be heard on Jayhawk Digital Passport through KUAthletics.com/Showcase with Tom Hedrick and Scott Heitshusen calling the action. Subscription prices Jayhawk Digital Passport are as follows: $2.95/day, $6.95/month or $49.95/year.
- After dropping two-straight games to Oklahoma over the weekend, Kansas rallied back to win two-straight, including its third-straight over Wichita State dating back to last season.
- The Jayhawks were swept at home a year ago by Kansas State, and have lost the last four contests the two teams have played.
- The last series win for KU over Kansas State came in 2008 when Kansas won two out of three games when KSU was ranked No. 11.
- Seven of Kansas’ 10 losses have been decided by one run, including all three conference losses.
- The Jayhawks rank first in conference play in pitching with a 1.53 ERA in six games, while ranking eighth in batting with a .221 team average.
- Overall, KU ranks second in the conference in batting (.296), second in RBIs (171) and first in fewest strikeouts (129).
- Junior Connor McKay ranks sixth in the nation in RBIs (34), and holds the top spot in the Big 12 in the same category.
SERIES HISTORY: The Kansas archives have the Jayhawks with a nine-game advantage in the all-time series (179-170-1) dating back to 1898 when the two teams first met. In head coach Ritch Price’s tenure, the Jayhawks hold a 13-13 record against KSU, having been swept four times in a three-game series, including last season. KU has only won three of the 11 series Price has led Kansas, including a three-game sweep in 2004. Currently, the Jayhawks are riding a four-game winless streak against the Wildcats.
SCOUTING REPORT: The top-ranked offense in the Big 12 Conference, Kansas State enters the weekend with a 17-11 record and 1-2 mark in conference play. The Wildcats lead the conference in batting average (.306), runs scored (195), RBIs (180) and on-base percentage (.406). At the same time, the KSU pitching staff ranks last in ERA (3.98), has given up the most home runs (14) and has the highest opponent batting average (.269).
Kansas State has three regulars ranking in the top-10 in batting average, with senior infielder RJ Santigate and junior infielder Austin Fisher leading the charge with their .362 average in 28 games. However, senior outfielder Ross Kivett leads the offensive production with a .505 slugging percentage, including eight doubles, a triple and two home runs for 22 RBIs. Freshman catcher Tanner DeVinny (23) and junior outfielder Mitch Meyer (21) are the only other Wildcats with more than 20 RBIs.
A complete 180 from their dominance at the plate, the KSU pitching staff holds a league-worst 3.98 ERA, giving up a league-high 14 bombs and 108 earned runs. The Jayhawks will likely see sophomore righty Levi MaVorhis on Friday, senior southpaw Jared Moore on Saturday and freshman Nate Griep on Sunday.
MaVorhis holds a 3-3 record and a 3.32 ERA in seven starts. In 43 and one-third innings pitched, he has allowed 19 runs off 41 hits and five walks, striking out 31 in the process. Moore holds a 4.15 ERA and a 5-1 record. He has given up 20 runs off 44 hits and 10 walks and has amassed 24 strikeouts. In eight appearances, Griep has struck out 23 batters in 32 and one-third innings for a perfect 3-0 mark.
LAST TIME OUT: The Jayhawks won their second-straight midweek contest this season and third-straight over in-state rival Wichita State Tuesday night at Hoglund Ballpark, 4-2. Kansas used a four-run second inning and great defense, including two pick offs and two double plays, to top the Shockers and kick off rivalry week with a win. Drew Morovick tossed six innings for his Big 12-leading sixth win.
AROUND THE HORN:
- Junior shortstop Justin Protacio tallied two walks and a hit against WSU (April 1), extending his reached-base safely streak to 39 games.
- Freshman reliever Stephen Villines tossed the final inning and a third for the Jayhawks against the Shockers (April 1) for his second career save. He allowed just one hit while striking out one of the five batters he faced.
- Junior left fielder Michael Suiter was a perfect 2-for-2 at the plate with two walks against Wichita State (April 1), increasing his batting average to .339 on the season, a team best. In addition, Suiter is the only Jayhawk to start all 29 contests this season.
- Freshman right fielder Joven Afenir legged out a two-RBI infield single in the second inning against the Shockers (April 1), helping KU to a four-run inning and the win.
- Senior closer Jordan Piche’ came on in relief in the seventh inning and threw eight pitches against three batters, striking out two of them.
- Sophomore second baseman Colby Wright posted his fourth multi-hit game of the season, connecting with two against WSU (April 1).
- Junior right-handed pitcher Drew Morovick tossed six innings against Wichita State (April 1), giving up seven hits, two runs and a walk in 85 pitches for his league-leading sixth win.
- Senior righty Frank Duncan tossed eight innings Sunday (March 30), giving up one run off seven Sooner hits while striking out five batters. Those five strikeouts give him 233 for his career as he sits in fourth all-time in KU history.
- Senior right-handed closer Jordan Piche’ blew is fifth save opportunity of the season Sunday (March 30) in the win over Oklahoma. The 2013 Big 12 saves leader has only saved three games this season while posting a 4.67 ERA in 27 innings of work.
- With a depleted bullpen, junior righty Robert Kahana gave Kansas six and one-third innigns on the bump in Saturday’s contest against Oklahoma (March 29), allowing two runs off six hits and two walks.
- Junior designated hitter Dakota Smith only posted two hits on the weekend, however none was bigger than his two-out RBI-double in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday (March 30) to give the Jayhawks the walk-off win.
- Seventeen of Connor McKay’s 34 RBIs have come with two outs and he is first on the team with a .366 two-out batting average as a regular in the KU lineup.
- Frank Duncan’s 46 strikeouts ranks him tied for second in the Big 12, sitting 27 behind conference leader Brandon Finnegan (73) of TCU.
- Both Frank Duncan and Drew Morovick rank atop the conference leaderboard for innings pitched, as Duncan ranks first with 53.1 innings, while Morovick is tied for seventh with 43.1.
- In conference play, the Kansas pitching staff leads the league with a 1.53 ERA, while the offense ranks eighth with a .221 batting average.
NUMBER 600: Now in his 12th season at the helm of the Jayhawks, head coach Ritch Price has amassed 593 victories at the Division I level, with 376 wins coming at KU. Prior to Kansas, Price led Cal Poly to 217 wins from 1994-2002. He needs just seven more wins to reach career number 600.
WALK IT OFF: With two outs, runners at first and second and the score tied in the bottom of the ninth inning, junior designated hitter Dakota Smith scorched a 2-2 fastball off the wall in left field to drive in the winning run, as the Kansas baseball team defeated Oklahoma, 4-3, Sunday (March 30) afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark. That win marked just the second walk-off win for KU this season.
ONE FOR THE BOOKS: Kansas tallied 16 hits against Creighton (March 26) at TD Ameritrade Park en route to a convincing 11-0 win against the Bluejays. The 16 hits tied the stadium record for most hits in a game by any team, including games played in the College World Series. The 11 runs scored were the most given up by Creighton all season and the goose egg in the CU run column was the first for them since the team was shutout at Illinois State, 6-0, May 4, 2013.
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.
UP NEXT: Kansas continues its six-game road stretch April 8-9, as the Jayhawks head to Iowa City, Iowa for a two-game midweek series against the Hawkeyes. First pitch Tuesday is slated for 6 p.m., with Wednesday’s contest set to begin at 3 p.m.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.