Baseball Hosts Antelopes for Midweek Set
LAWRENCE, Kan. – After avoiding the conference series sweep against TCU with a win in Saturday’s nightcap of a doubleheader, the Kansas baseball team continues its homestand as it plays host to Grand Canyon for a two-game midweek series April 15-16 at Hoglund Ballpark.
Both contests can be seen on ESPN3, accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the Watch ESPN app, through ESPN on Xbox Live to Gold Members and on Apple TV. Steven Davis will handle the play-by-play with former KU baseball players Scott Heitshusen (Tuesday) and Travis Blankenship (Wednesday).
The games are also available for listening via the Jayhawk Digital Passport through KUAthletics.com/Showcase with Tom Hedrick and Sean Kellerman calling the action. Subscription prices for Jayhawk Digital Passport are as follows: $2.95/day, $6.95/month or $49.95/year.
- The Jayhawks enter the two-game midweek series against Grand Canyon with a 2-5 record during the week, with KU’s only wins coming against Creighton (March 26) and Wichita State (April 1).
- The Kansas pitching staff holds a 6.25 ERA during midweek games, as the squad is being outscored 43-39 in those seven games.
- KU enters the week sitting fifth in the Big 12 standings with a record of 6-6 in conference play.
- The Jayhawks have only won two conference series (Texas and Kansas State) this season, but have avoided being swept on consecutive home Sundays against Oklahoma and TCU.
- Junior left fielder Michael Suiter ranks third in the Big 12 in hits (48), sixth in runs scored (30) and seventh in on-base percentage (.429).
- Junior right fielder Connor McKay ranks first in the conference in home runs (9), RBIs (38), slugging percentage (.611) and second in total bases (80).
- Senior right-handed ace Frank Duncan has allowed just three runs in four starts in conference playing, holding a 0.84 ERA in 32 and one-third innings pitched, which ranks third in the Big 12.
SERIES HISTORY: Kansas and Grand Canyon have played four times prior to Tuesday’s game, with an even series record, 2-2. The first time the two squads faced off against one another was in 1993 when KU opened the season with a three game series at GCU (Feb. 12-14). After dropping the first game, Kansas bounced back to win the next two and take the series win. It took three years for the teams to meet again, with the Antelopes coming out on top 19-9 (Feb. 10, 1996).
SCOUTING REPORT: Grand Canyon is in its first season as a Division I club and is coming off a series win against Sacramento State this past weekend. The squad enters the two-game midweek series with an overall record of 18-15, 8-4 in the WAC. The Antelopes hold a team batting average of .268 in 33 games, including 50 doubles, eight triples and six home runs. The Lopes pitching staff gives up an average of 3.8 runs per game for a 3.27 ERA, while holding opponents to a .251 batting average.
Humberto Aranda (.363) and David Walker (.360) are the only two GCU players with an average above .300, while Humberto leads the team with a .550 slugging percentage. Chad De La Guerra boasts 20 RBIs for the Lopes’ offense, while five others have 10 or more RBIs themselves.
The Jayhawks will likely see LHP Zebastian Valenzuela and LHP Joey Wise on the bump. Valenzuela has made just one start and nine appearances on the season. He holds a 3.38 ERA in eight innings pitched, giving up three runs off nine hits and 10 walks. Wise has made four appearances and no starts and has tossed just four innings on the season.
LAST TIME OUT: Kansas dropped the first two games of the Big 12 Conference weekend series to TCU (2-5 & 1-3), before rallying behind the arm of senior right-hander Frank Duncan to win game two of Saturday’s doubleheader (5-1) and avoid the sweep.
AROUND THE HORN:
- Junior right fielder Connor McKay blasted three home runs against TCU, including two in game two of Saturday’s doubleheader, pushing his season total and Big 12 lead to nine bombs.
- Senior righty Jordan Piche’ started his second-career game on the bump for the Jayhawks on Friday (April 11) against the Horned Frogs. He allowed four runs off 10 hits and a walk in the loss.
- Senior catcher Ka’iana Eldredge boasted the only multi-hit performance in Friday’s series opener (April 11) against TCU, and finished the weekend 2-for-9 with a walk and an RBI.
- Junior right-handed hurler Robert Kahana (2-5) tossed his second complete game of the season Saturday (April 12) versus the Horned Frogs, allowing three runs off nine hits.
- Junior designated hitter Dakota Smith hit his third triple of the season against TCU (April 12) and finished the weekend 3-for-8 with three RBIs in two games played.
- Freshman side-armer Stephen Villines recorded three strikeouts in one and one-third innings pitched, recording his fourth save on the season versus the Frogs.
- Senior righty Frank Duncan tossed eight and one-third innings in the nightcap of Saturday’s doubleheader (April 12), giving up one run off five hits, while striking out seven for the win.
- Sophomore first baseman Ryan Pidhaichuk broke up TCU’s Preston Morrison’s no-hitter in the fifth inning of Saturday’s first game (April 12) when he smoked a double down the left field line. That was the second-consecutive game in which Pidhaichuk broke up the no-hitter by an opposing player in the fifth inning or later, as he did the same against K-State starter Levi MaVorhis (April 4).
- Junior left fielder Michael Suiter ranks third in the conference in hits (48), sixth in runs scored (30) and seventh in on-base percentage (.429).
- In conference play, junior shortstop Justin Protacio ranks tied for first in walks (8) and tied for sixth in runs scored (8).
- Frank Duncan leads Kansas with a 0.84 ERA in conference play, while boasting an overall ERA of 1.53 in nine starts. He ranks third in the Big 12 for both.
- Connor McKay leads the league in home runs (9), RBIs (38), slugging percentage (.611), and ranks second in total bases (80).
- In conference play, the Jayhawks rank second in pitching with a team ERA of 2.63, while holding the seventh-best team batting average (.232).
RIDIN’ SOLO: Junior right fielder Connor McKay blasted four solo shots last week, including three against conference foe TCU (April 12) combined in Saturday’s doubleheader. He now holds down the top spot in the conference in home runs, with nine, slugging percentage (.611) and increased his leading RBI total to 38. His two home runs in the night cap of Saturday’s doubleheader was the first time a Jayhawk hit two home runs in a game since Alex DeLeon accomplished the same feat May 11, 2013, against Kansas State. That wasn’t the first time McKay filled up a box score this season, as he tied his career-high with four hits at No. 10 Texas (March 14). Against Milwaukee (Feb. 22), McKay had a career-high five RBIs, which included a sacrifice fly in the first inning and a grand slam in the fifth inning. That was the second granny of McKay’s career and the first for KU since McKay hit one in 2012 against Minnesota (March 10). In 37 games, McKay has crushed his offensive numbers from last year with seven more home runs and 20 more RBIs in fewer games played (35). Nineteen of his RBIs have come with two-outs, while 16 have come from his home run production.
DUNCAN CONTINUES TO DEAL: Senior right-handed ace Frank Duncan chalked up his fourth win of the season against TCU (April 12) after tossing eight and one-third innings. Duncan held the Horned Frongs to one run off five hits and a walk, while striking out seven batters. That was the fifth time on the season he held opponents to five or fewer hits, and the eighth time he has allowed two or fewer runs in nine starts. This season the hurler has tossed a league-high 70 and two-thirds innings, allowing 54 hits, 14 runs and eight walks. En route to his 4-1 record, Duncan has struck out a team-high 56 batters and leads the Big 12 in complete games (3). At K-State (April 6), Duncan tossed a complete game to pace the Jayhawks to their first series win over the Wildcats since 2008. At No. 10 Texas (March 16), he threw seven scoreless innings to lead Kansas to a series win. Against Houston Baptist (March 1), he went 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).
MIDWEEK WOES: After the two losses to Iowa (April 8-9), the Jayhawks moved 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 596 victories at the Division I level, with 379 wins coming at KU. Prior to Kansas, Price led Cal Poly to 217 wins from 1994-2002. He needs just four more wins to reach career number 600.
UP NEXT: The Jayhawks head to Stillwater, Okla., to continue Big 12 play against Oklahoma State, April 18-20, before returning home to host Missouri State, April 23.
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