Jayhawks Close Out Road Slate at No. 3 TCU
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Following a midweek sweep over Northwestern, the Kansas baseball team heads directly to Fort Worth, Texas to close out its Big 12 Conference road slate at No. 3 TCU, May 8-9, at Lupton Baseball Stadium.
The Jayhawks (22-28, 7-11 Big 12) enter the weekend having only won seven games on the road this season and will be matched against a TCU (34-9, 13-5 Big 12) that doesn’t seem to lose games at home with a 24-2 mark in 2015 at Lupton Baseball Stadium.
In the 13 games played between the two schools in the history of the programs, the Horned Frogs hold a 7-6 advantage, winning the last series played in Lawrence in 2014. The last time in Fort Worth, the Jayhawks won the last two games of a three-game tilt to claim the series, its first and only series win over TCU.
TCU ranks atop both the team batting and pitching charts in the Big 12 Conference, holding a team .291 batting average and a 2.22 team ERA. Freshman outfielder Connor Wanhanen leads the Horned Frogs and league with a .378 average, including four doubles and three triples. Fellow outfielder Cody Jones ranks fifth in the conference and second on the squad with a .360 average, including 10 doubles, a triple and three home runs. Catcher Evan Skoug is responsible for most of the run production, as he has driven in a team-high 34 RBIs that ranks seventh in the Big 12.
On the mound, TCU holds one of the best pitching staffs in the nation with the third-lowest team ERA at 2.22. In addition, the staff has thrown the second-most shutouts in the country this season at nine, second only to the 10 that Vanderbilt has accumulated. The Horned Frogs will send lefty Tyler Alexander, righty Preston Morrison and lefty Alex Young to the bump against the Jayhawks. Young holds a 9-2 mark and a 1.46 ERA while Morrison is 10-1 with a 2.03 ERA. Young also leads the trio with 68 strikeouts, while Morrison has thrown two complete games. Closer Riley Ferrell boasts a 0.81 ERA with 11 saves, second only to KU’s Stephen Villines for the most in the conference.
Kansas is led by senior left fielder Connor McKay who enters the weekend with a .364 batting average that ranks third in the conference. McKay leads the league in hits (75), doubles (20), total bases (116), and is second in runs scored (44) and slugging percentage (.563). Sophomore catcher Michael Tinsley is the only other Jayhawk batting over .300 at .337 with 14 doubles, three home runs and 36 RBIs. Senior right fielder Dakota Smith is responsible for driving in most of KU’s runs on the season and is in a three-way tie for first in the league with 39 RBIs.
Junior lefty Ben Krauth will get the nod Friday night against the Horned Frogs. The southpaw enters the contest with a 7-3 record and a team-leading 3.39 ERA. In his last four starts, Krauth has thrown 29 innings and has allowed just two earned runs for a 0.62 ERA, striking out 34 batters in the process. In conference play, he averages 9.5 strikeouts per game, while his 1.66 ERA ranks fifth.
Senior righty Drew Morovick will take the bump for Saturday’s game while Sunday’s starter for Kansas is yet to be determined. Morovick enters with a 4-4 record on the year and a 4.64 ERA.
Friday’s contest is slated for a 6:30 p.m. start and can be seen on FOX Sports Southwest Plus (FSSW+) while Saturday’s game is set to begin at 4 p.m. Sunday’s matchup will be broadcasted on national television on FOX Sports 2 and will start at 1 p.m. Fans can listen to all three games live on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAthletics.com/Radio.
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