Jayhawks Travel to Baylor for Weekend Matchup
LAWRENCE, Kan. – After a tough midweek loss to Missouri State in the ninth inning, the Kansas baseball team hits the road for Waco to play a three-game conference series against Baylor, Friday, April 25 – Sunday, April 27, at Baylor Ballpark. First pitch Friday is slated for 6:35 p.m., while Saturday’s and Sunday’s games are scheduled for 3:05 p.m. and 1:05 p.m., respectively.
The Jayhawks (23-20, 6-9 Big 12) have dropped four-straight games and look to bounce back against the Bears (19-22, 5-9 Big 12).
Friday’s and Saturday’s contests can be seen live on Fox Sports-Plus, while Sunday’s game will be aired on Fox College Sports. John Morris will handle the play-by-play alongside analyst Pat Combs.
All three games of the series are also available for listening via the Jayhawk Digital Passport through KUAthletics.com/Showcase with Sean Kellerman and Scott Heitshusen calling the action. In addition, Saturday’s matchup can also be heard on the airwaves on KLWN 1320. Subscription prices for Jayhawk Digital Passport are as follows: $2.95/day, $6.95/month or $49.95/year.
- For the second time in 2014, the Jayhawks have suffered four-straight losses and will also be riding at a three-game skid into a conference weekend series for the second time.
- The last time KU took a three-game skid into a conference weekend, the squad took two out of three from then-No. 10 Texas on the road (March 14-16).
- Kansas is 6-3 against Texas schools this season, winning both the Houston Baptist (3-1) and Texas series (2-1), before winning just one game against TCU (1-2).
- Since winning the series against Kansas State (April 4-6), the Jayhawks have posted a record of 2-9, with both coming in between four-straight losses.
- In conference play, Kansas ranks eighth with a .233 team batting average, while sitting in fifth with a 3.25 ERA.
- Junior right fielder Connor McKay leads the Big 12 in home runs (9) and is tied for first in RBIs (38), while ranking sixth in total bases (80) and seventh in slugging percentage (.519).
SERIES HISTORY: Kansas and Baylor have met 58 times since 1957, with the Bears leading the all-time series 45-13. The Jayhawks have struggled on the road in Waco, tallying just three wins in 27 games played against BU. Currently, KU is riding a three-game winning streak over the Bears, having swept them at home a year ago, however, the last time the two teams met in Waco, Baylor was the one doing the sweeping, winning all three games (2-10, 0-9, 6-8). In the Ritch Price era, the skipper has guided Kansas to an 11-24 record against the Bears, with the only series win on the road coming in 2010.
SCOUTING REPORT: Baylor enters the weekend with a record of 19-22, 5-9 Big 12, good enough for eighth in the conference standings. At Baylor Ballpark, the Bears have lost just four games, en route to a 17-4 record at home. Offensively, BU sits in last in the Big 12 with a .224 team batting average and have scored the fewest runs of any team in the league (157).
No Baylor player has an average over .300, with just three regulars batting over .250. Third baseman Duncan Wendel leads BU with a .279 average (29-for-104), while right fielder Adam Toth leads the offensive production with a .272 average, including five doubles, four triples and two home runs, while driving in 18. Nine different Bears have recorded double-digit RBIs with Toth and left fielder Grayson Porter leading the charge with 18 and 16 RBIs, respectively.
As for the hurlers, BU ranks eighth in the conference in pitching, with a 3.65 ERA. The squad has allowed the third-most runs (191) of any team in the league, while surrendering the second-most walks. KU will likely see LHP Brad Kuntz, RHP Dillon Newman and LHP Daniel Castano on the bump in that order this weekend.
Kuntz has made 10 starts, tossing a team-high 56 and one-third innings for a 3.67 ERA. He has allowed 29 runs off 48 hits and 40 walks for a 4-2 record. Newman holds a record of 3-2 and a 3.10 ERA. The righty has made 10 starts, giving up 56 hits and 21 runs while recording 44 strikeouts. Castano may be considered the ace of the pitching staff, entering the weekend with a 5-1 record and 2.27 ERA in 15 appearances, six starts. In 47 and two-thirds innings, Castano has allowed just 17 runs and 40 hits, including nine doubles and two triples.
LAST TIME OUT: Following a conference series sweep by then-No. 13 Oklahoma State (April 18-20), the Jayhawks dropped their fourth-straight game in a row, Wednesday, April 23 against Missouri State at Hoglund Ballpark, 6-5. Kansas took a two-run lead into the ninth inning, before freshman closer Stephen Villines gave up three runs in the top of the frame for the loss.
AROUND THE HORN:
- Junior left fielder Michael Suiter boasted a career-high five hits (5-for-5) and was perfect at the plate against Missouri State (April 23).
- Freshman catcher Michael Tinsley scorched a two-run pinch-hit double against the Bears (April 23) for the second double of his career and help KU to a regain the lead, 3-2.
- Freshman closer Stephen Villines blew his second-consecutive save when he gave up three runs against MSU (April 23) in the ninth inning.
- Sophomore second baseman Colby Wright paced Kansas with a 3-for-10 effort against OSU (April 18-20) 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 (April 18-20).
- 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 (April 18-20) in 12 plate appearances.
- Junior first baseman Ryan Pidhaichuk boasted a 3-for-6 effort at the plate in two starts against the Cowboys (April 18-20), 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 (April 19) 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 is tied for first in RBIs with 38.
- Michael Suiter ranks second in the conference with 59 hits and fifth with a .441 on-base percentage.
- KU ranks second in the league with a .288 batting average, however, the squad ranks seventh in pitching with a 3.63 ERA.
- In conference play, Justin Protacio leads the way with 11 free passes.
CAREER-HIGH FIVE: Junior left fielder Michael Suiter flourished at the plate Wednesday against Missouri State (April 23) with a perfect 5-for-5 effort, including four singles and a double for a career-high five hits. That performance came after a weekend where he and teammate, junior right fielder Connor McKay, combined for a .090 average (2-for-22) against OSU (April 18-20), driving in one run. That was the first time a Jayhawk tallied five hits in a game since senior catcher Ka’iana Eldredge accomplished the same feat against Southern Utah (March 21, 2012).
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 seventh in slugging percentage (.519) 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 43 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.
NUMBER 600: Now in his 12th season at the helm of the Jayhawks, head coach Ritch Price has amassed 597 victories at the Division I level, with 380 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.
MIDWEEK WOES: Kansas continues to struggle in midweek action moving to 3-7 on the season during the week after losing to Missouri State (April 23). Prior to MSU, KU split a series with Grand Canyon (April 15-16) after tallying two losses to Iowa (April 8-9). Two of the three wins for the Jayhawks during the week came 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: Kansas continues its road swing with a midweek matchup against in-state rival Wichita State, Tuesday, April 29, before returning home to host Texas Tech (May 2-4) for a weekend conference series at Hoglund Ballpark.
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