Kansas Welcomes TCU for Weekend Conference Series
LAWRENCE, Kan. – After dropping two midweek contests against Iowa, Kansas returns home to resume Big 12 Conference play by hosting TCU for a three-game series April 11-13 at Hoglund Ballpark. First pitch Friday is set for 6 p.m., while Saturday’s and Sunday’s contests are slated for a 3 p.m. and 1 p.m. start, respectively.
The Jayhawks (21-13, 5-4 Big 12) are riding a two-game conference winning streak into Friday’s opener with TCU (20-12, 5-4), as Kansas sits in fifth place in the Big 12 standings.
The three-game series can be seen in its entirety 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 Apple TV. Saturday’s and Sunday’s contests will be broadcast throughout the state of Kansas on the Jayhawk Television Network and will be blacked out on ESPN3 throughout the state. Steven Davis will handle the play-by-play with former KU baseball players Scott Heitshusen (Friday and Saturday) and Travis Blankenship (Sunday). Visit KUAthletics.com/TV for more information on affiliates.
All three games can be heard on Jayhawk Digital Passport through KUAthletics.com/Showcase with legendary play-by-play man Tom Hedrick calling the action. Subscription prices for Jayhawk Digital Passport are as follows: $2.95/day, $6.95/month or $49.95/year.
- Kansas dropped two midweek contests at Iowa falling to 2-5 during the week, while moving to 9-3 against the Hawkeyes in the Ritch Price era.
- The Jayhawks are riding a two-game winning streak in conference play, after taking their last two against Kansas State (April 5-6).
- KU sits in fifth place in the Big 12 standings, ranking second in conference play in pitching (2.51 ERA) and seventh in hitting (.234 batting average).
- Junior left fielder Michael Suiter ranks third in the Big 12 in hits (45), sixth in on-base percentage (.436) and tied for sixth in runs scored (29).
- Junior right fielder Connor McKay ranks first in the conference for RBIs (35), tied for first in home runs (6) and tied for fifth in total bases (66).
- Senior righty Frank Duncan has allowed just two runs in three starts in conference play, holding a 0.75 ERA in 24 innings pitched, which ranks third in the Big 12.
SERIES HISTORY: Kansas and the Horned Frogs have met 10 times, dating back to February 17, 1990. Last year’s win over TCU in the Big 12 Baseball Championship was the third-straight for KU and evened the series up 5-5. In the Ritch Price era, the Jayhawks hold a 4-3 advantage, winning two extra-inning contests in the process. Kansas holds a 3-1 record against TCU since the Frogs joined the conference in 2012.
SCOUTING REPORT: TCU enters the weekend with a 20-12 record, 5-4 in the Big 12, and is coming off its first sweep in league play, winning all three games against West Virginia last weekend. The Horned Frogs are one of two Big 12 programs to rank among the top five in the conference in hitting (5th / .278) , pitching (2nd / 2.77 ERA) and defense (5th / .973).
Left fielder Boomer White leads the offensive charge for TCU with a .377 batting average, including seven doubles, a home run, 12 walks and 22 RBIs. Third baseman Derek Odell holds a .346 average with a double, a triple, 16 walks and 20 RBIs, while first baseman Kevin Cron is the only other player with 20 or more RBIs (21), as he holds a .256 average with nine doubles, a triple and two home runs.
The second-best pitching staff in the Big 12 Conference, TCU boasts two starters with an ERA less than 2.00 in that of southpaw Brandon Finnegan (1.60) and righty Preston Morrison (1.92). Finnegan ranks second nationally with 80 strikeouts, 29 more than anyone else in the conference, in 56 and one-third innings pitched. In eight starts, he has allowed 10 runs and 15 walks for an opponent batting average of .179.
Saturday’s starter, Morrison, enters the weekend with a 3-3 record in 51 and two-thirds innings pitched. In his last outing, he tossed a nine-inning one-hitter, the second of his career, against West Virginia (April 5). He has held opponents to a .238 batting average, allowing 44 hits, including nine doubles.
The Jayhawks will likely see left-hander Alex Young on Sunday. Young has made 11 appearances and just one start on the bump for the Horned Frogs. In 25 and two-thirds innings, he has compiled a record of 1-2 and a 2.45 ERA. Of his 21 hits allowed, four have been doubles, as he holds a .226 opponent batting average.
LAST TIME OUT: For the first time in program history, Kansas lost a game at Duane Banks Field, as the Jayhawks dropped two midweek contests to Iowa (April 8-9), 5-3 and 12-7. KU headed to Iowa City, Iowa, with a perfect 4-0 record at Duane Banks Field and a 9-1 mark against the Hawkeyes under head coach Ritch Price.
AROUND THE HORN:
- Junior right fielder Connor McKay broke his seven-game RBI lull with a solo bomb against Iowa (April 9), his sixth of the season, as he now ranks first in the Big 12 with 36 RBIs.
- Sophomore second baseman Colby Wright hit his first career home run against the Hawkeyes (April 9), driving in a career-high three RBIs on the day.
- Junior righty Drew Morovick (6-2) suffered his second loss on the season after allowing eight runs off 10 hits in two and two-thirds innings against Iowa (April 9).
- Senior centerfielder Tucker Tharp tallied his third-straight multi-hit performance against the Hawkeyes (April 9) with his 4-for-5 performance at the dish. During that span, he is batting .750 (6-for-8) with a home run, three runs scored and an RBI.
- Sophomore righty Hayden Edwards tossed a career-high four innings in relief against Iowa (April 9), giving up two runs off three hits.
- Senior right-handed ace Frank Duncan tossed his third complete game of the season against K-State (April 6), allowing just one run off seven hits and a walk, while striking out three batters in his 128-pitch effort.
- Tucker Tharp mashed his fourth home run of the season off a first-pitch belt-high fastball in the second inning against Kansas State on Sunday (April 6).
- Junior first baseman Ryan Pidhaichuk took three free passes against the Wildcats (April 6), including two walks and a hit by pitch.
- Junior righty Robert Kahana tossed six innings for his second win on the season (2-4) against K-State (April 5), allowing just one run off three hits and five walks.
- Freshman side-arm slinger Stephen Villines recorded his third save of the season after tossing one and one-third innings of relief against K-State (April 5).
- Senior Jordan Piche’ got his first career start on the bump for Kansas against the Wildcats (April 4), lasting five innings after giving up seven runs off eight hits.
- Ryan Pidhaichuk broke up K-State’s Levi MaVorhis’ perfect game in the fifth inning with a single up the middle Friday night (April 4).
- After breaking his 39-straight game on-base streak, junior shortstop Justin Protacio posted a 1-for-4 effort (Saturday) and 3-for-4 performance (Sunday) at the plate to round out the weekend.
- Junior left fielder Michael Suiter ranks third in the Big 12 in hits (45) and is tied for sixth with 29 runs scored.
- Junior shortstop Justin Protacio is also tied for sixth in runs scored (29) in the conference, while ranking tied for eighth in hits (43).
- Michael Suiter ranks sixth in the conference with a .436 on-base percentage.
- Frank Duncan ranks among the conference best in ERA (3rd / 1.59), strikeouts (3rd / 49), innings pitched (1st / 62.1) and complete games (1st / 3).
- Seventeen of Connor McKay’s 35 RBIs have come with two outs.
- Drew Morovick still leads the Big 12 in wins with a 6-2 record.
- In conference play, the Kansas pitching staff ranks second in the league with a 2.51 ERA and .225 opponent batting average.
MIDWEEK WOES: After the two losses to Iowa, the Jayhawks move to 2-5 in true midweek contests, with their two wins coming against Creighton (March 26) and Wichita State (April 1). Against Iowa, Kansas gave up 28 hits, which ties for the most hits given up by KU in two-consecutive games this season, as Northwestern (Feb. 21) and Milwaukee (Feb. 22) combined for 28 hits earlier in the season. The 18 hits given up in game two against Iowa (April 9) was the most hits allowed by the Jayhawks this season, and the 15th game where their opponent tallied 10 or more hits.
NUMBER 600: Now in his 12th season at the helm of the Jayhawks, head coach Ritch Price has amassed 595 victories at the Division I level, with 378 wins coming at KU. Prior to Kansas, Price led Cal Poly to 217 wins from 1994-2002. He needs just five more wins to reach career number 600.
KANSAS RUNS ON DUNCAN: Senior right hander Frank Duncan tossed his third complete game of the season Sunday (April 6) against K-State, en route to pacing the Jayhawks to their first series win over the Wildcats since 2008. On the season, Duncan holds a team-leading 1.59 ERA for a 3-1 record. Duncan tossed seven scoreless innings against No. 10 Texas Sunday, March 16, to lead Kansas to a series win. The weekend prior, he threw his second complete game of the season, Sunday, March 9, in the 1-0 loss at Stanford. In eight starts, the hurler has tossed a league-high 62 and one-third innings, allowing 49 hits, 13 runs and seven walks. En route to his 3-1 record, Duncan has struck out a team-high 49 batters and leads the Big 12 in complete games (3). 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).
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.
UP NEXT: Kansas continues its homestand, as the Jayhawks host Grand Canyon (April 15-16) for a two-game midweek set before heading to Stillwater, Okla., to pick up conference play against Oklahoma State (April 18-20).
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.