Kansas Hosts Missouri State in Midweek Action
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas baseball team returns home to play host to Missouri State, Wednesday, April 23, at Hoglund Ballpark after having been swept for the first time all season in a three-game series at Oklahoma State over the weekend.
The Jayhawks (23-19, 6-9 Big 12) have dropped four of their last five games and look to get back to their winning ways Wednesday with a 6 p.m. first pitch against the Bears (17-19, 6-6 MVC).
The game against the MSU can be watched live 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 player Travis Blankenship.
The midweek contest is 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 suffered their first series sweep of the season, dropping all three games against Oklahoma State in Big 12 action this past weekend.
- Kansas holds a record of 3-6 in games played during the week, averaging 5.4 runs per game, exactly the same as its opponents.
- As a pitching staff, KU holds a 5.14 ERA in nine midweek games, with Wednesday’s starter, Jon Hander, entering with an ERA of 3.94.
- Kansas enters the week sixth in the Big 12 standings with a record of 6-9 in conference play.
- In the 19 losses on the season, the Jayhawks are averaging just 2.5 runs per game, while their opponents are scoring an average of 5.3 runs per game.
- Junior left fielder Michael Suiter leads the team with a .485 midweek batting average (16-for-33), including three doubles, a triple and six RBIs. He also leads the squad with a .636 slugging percentage and .571 on-base percentage during the week.
- Junior right fielder Connor McKay leads the Big 12 in home runs (9) and RBIs (38), while ranking fourth in slugging percentage (.537) and fifth in total bases (80).
SERIES HISTORY: Wednesday’s game against Missouri State marks the 48th meeting between the Jayhawks and Bears, with MSU holding the one-game advantage in the all-time series (24-23). At Hoglund Ballpark, KU has won 14 of 24 contests, with its last home victory against Missouri State coming March 31, 2010, 7-6. Under the direction of 12th year head coach Ritch Price, the Jayhawks and Bears have played 17 games with Kansas ahead 9-8 in the series. The two squads first met in 1988 for a home and home two-game set with KU losing both games (4-5, 3-22).
SCOUTING REPORT: Missouri State enters Wednesday’s contest with a record of 17-19 after dropping a conference series last weekend to Illinois State. As a squad, MSU is batting .255 with 56 doubles, 10 triples and 20 home runs, while striking out 265 times. Only two regulars in the Bears’ lineup are batting over .300, with second baseman Eric Cheray leading the way with a .321 average, including four doubles, two triples and two home runs. Cheray is also tied for the team lead in RBIs (22), as catcher Matt Fultz has also tallied 22 RBIs on the year.
On the bump, Missouri State hurlers have combined for a 3.46 ERA in 36 games, allowing 151 runs off 299 hits. The Jayhawks will likely see left hander Andy Cheray on the mound to start Wednesday’s contest. A. Cheray has made just four appearances and one start, tossing nine and two-thirds innings. He has allowed six hits and eight walks, striking out eight batters in the process. He is yet to allow a run and holds a perfect 1-0 record.
LAST TIME OUT: The Jayhawks dropped three-straight games to then-No. 13 Oklahoma State in a weekend conference series matchup in Stillwater where Kansas was outscored a combined 18-6.
AROUND THE HORN:
- Sophomore second baseman Colby Wright paced Kansas with a 3-for-10 effort against OSU over the weekend and holds a .284 average on the season.
- Junior shortstop Justin Protacio added three more walks to his team leading 26 free passes over the weekend against the Cowboys.
- Senior centerfielder Tucker Tharp mashed his fifth home run of the season at Oklahoma State (April 20), driving it over the wall and off the softball stadium in left field at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
- Junior right fielder Connor McKay went hitless for the first time this season in a weekend series against OSU in 12 plate appearances.
- Junior first baseman Ryan Pidhaichuk boasted a 3-for-6 effort at the plate in two starts against the Cowboys, including a double and one RBI.
- Senior righty Frank Duncan allowed a season-high six runs off seven hits, including a double and two home runs, in Sunday’s loss to OSU (April 20). Those were the first home runs he has allowed all season.
- Senior right-hander Jordan Piche’ made his third career start on the bump for KU, holding OSU to just one run through six innings, before Oklahoma State exploded for a six-run seventh (five credited to Piche’).
- Freshman closer Stephen Villines entered Saturday’s game against the Cowboys with a 0.33 ERA in 27 and two-thirds innings pitched, allowing just one run in 16 appearances, however he surrendered three runs in relief, including a home run, in the loss.
- Junior right-handed hurler Robert Kahana tossed five and one-third innings against OSU (April 19), giving up one run off six hits and two walks.
- KU hit into five double plays on the weekend with two coming from Connor McKay in the cleanup spot.
- Connor McKay still leads the Big 12 in home runs (9) and RBIs (38) and ranks fourth in slugging percentage (.537).
- Michael Suiter ranks fourth in the conference with 54 hits and eighth with a .426 on-base percentage.
- KU ranks third in the league with a .286 batting average, however, the squad ranks seventh in pitching with a 3.60 ERA.
- In conference play, Justin Protacio leads the way with 11 free passes.
COOL BATS: Kansas’ No. 3 and No. 4 hitters in the lineup, junior outfielders Michael Suiter and Connor McKay, combined for a .090 average (2-for-22) against OSU, driving in one run. The duo also combined for four strikeouts, while McKay grounded into two double plays.
RIDIN’ SOLO: Junior right fielder Connor McKay blasted four solo shots in week 10 of the season, 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, ranks fourth in slugging percentage (.537) and increased his league leading RBI total to 38. His two home runs in the nightcap 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 42 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 Frogs 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 77 and two-thirds innings, allowing 60 hits, 20 runs and 11 walks. En route to his 4-2 record, Duncan has struck out a team-high 60 batters and leads the Big 12 in complete games (3). However, against Oklahoma State (April 20), the hurler allowed a season high six runs and gave up his first two home runs of 2014. 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: The midweek series split with Grand Canyon (April 15-16) gave the Jayhawks a 3-6 record during the week. KU tallied two losses to Iowa (April 8-9), with its 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.
UP NEXT: The Jayhawks hit the road for one final time in conference play as they head to Waco for a three-game series against Baylor, April 25-27, at Baylor Ballpark.
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