KU Wraps Up Home and Conference Slate with West Virginia
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Sitting in third place in the Big 12 Conference standings, the Kansas baseball team welcomes West Virginia to close out the 2014 league and home slate, May 9-11, at Hoglund Ballpark.
The Jayhawks (30-21, 12-9 Big 12) take a six-game Big 12 Conference-game winning streak into the weekend against the Mountaineers (27-17, 9-8 Big 12) who have won seven of their last nine league contests.
Fans can watch all the action this weekend 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. Steven Davis (Friday) and Nate Bukaty (Saturday and Sunday) will handle the play-by-play with former KU baseball players Scott Heitshusen (Friday and Sunday) and Travis Blankenship (Saturday).
All three games of the series against the Mountaineers can be heard on Jayhawk Digital Passport through KUAthletics.com/Showcase with Tom Hedrick and Sean Kellerman calling the action. In addition, the contests 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.
- Kansas saw its seven-game winning streak snapped after a 5-3 loss to Missouri State (May 7) in its final midweek matchup of the season.
- Prior to the loss to MSU (May 7), KU won seven-straight games, including six-straight in Big 12 play after the sweep of No. 19 Texas Tech (May 2-4).
- The Jayhawks swept back-to-back conference opponents for the first time since 1994, when KU took three each from Nebraska and Kansas State.
- The sweep of No. 19 Texas Tech (May 2-4) was the first sweep of a top-25 opponent since the Jayhawks swept No. 17 Oklahoma State (April 10-12, 2009).
- The seven-straight wins was the longest winning streak of the season for Kansas since the squad started off the year 9-0.
- During the streak, KU outscored its opponents 50-18, averaging 7.14 runs per game to its opponents 2.57.
- Kansas pitching during that streak held a 1.86 ERA, allowing 18 runs off 55 hits. More impressively, KU starters tossed three complete games in that span, including two from senior righty Jordan Piche’.
- The Jayhawks rank fourth in the conference in hitting with a .287 batting average, while their pitching ranks sixth with a 3.42 ERA.
SERIES HISTORY: 2013 marked the first time the two squads met on the diamond, as the teams faced off against each other four times, including a game in the Big 12 Baseball Championship. West Virginia swept the Jayhawks in the regular-season matchups, before KU took the Mountaineers down in the conference tournament. All three games of the season series were decided by one run, while Kansas’ victory in the tournament came by a five-run advantage, 7-2.
SCOUTING REPORT: West Virginia is coming off a big weekend, winning the conference series against then-No. 11 Texas before taking down Virginia Tech Tuesday in a midweek contest. The Mountaineers enter the weekend with an RPI of 22, sitting fourth in the league standings. A series win against WVU could help KU’s chances of making an NCAA Regional, as the Jayhawks enter with an RPI of 40.
WVU leads the Big 12 with a .294 batting average, but ranks fourth with a 3.33 team ERA. Junior centerfielder Bobby Boyd leads West Virginia and the conference with a .376 batting average, including eight doubles, two triples, one home run and 22 RBIs, while swiping 15 bases. Two other Mountaineers hold .300 or above averages in junior second baseman Billy Fleming (.361) and senior first baseman Ryan McBroom (.360). Fleming has five doubles and 25 RBIs on the year, while McBroom as 11 doubles, seven home runs and 43 RBIs.
West Virginia will send three southpaw-power arms to the bump to start each of the contests on the weekend. Junior Harrison Musgrave will get the nod Friday night, as he enters with a 5-3 record and 2.11 ERA in 12 starts, striking out 76 batters. Sophomore Ross Vance will start Saturday with a 3-1 record in four starts, posting a 2.48 ERA. Sunday will bring junior John Means to the hill with a 6-1 record in 10 starts and a 2.34 ERA.
LAST TIME OUT: Kansas saw its seven-game winning streak come to a halt after a 5-3 loss to Missouri State in its final midweek matchup of the season Wednesday (May 7). With the loss, the Jayhawks fell to a record of 4-8 in games played during the week in 2014.
AROUND THE HORN:
- Junior shortstop Justin Protacio recorded half of KU’s hits against Missouri State (May 7), finishing the day with a 3-for-4 effort at the plate and two runs scored.
- Freshman righty Jon Hander tossed just four and one-third innings against MSU (May 7), giving up three runs off five hits and five walks.
- Junior right-hander Drew Morovick picked up his third loss of the season, coming in relief against the Bears (May 7), after allowing two runs off two hits in two and two-thirds innings of work.
- Sophomore second baseman Colby Wright paced the Kansas offense against No. 19 Texas Tech, batting .556 (5-for-9) with a double, six RBIs, four runs scored and four walks for a .667 slugging percentage and a .692 on-base percentage.
- Junior left fielder Michael Suiter blasted his second home run of the season against No. 19 Texas Tech (May 2), driving in three runs to help Kansas to the 11-3 victory over the Red Raiders.
- Senior righty Jordan Piche’ tossed his second-straight complete game Friday night (May 2) against TTU, giving up three runs, one earned, off seven hits while striking out seven batters without allowing a walk.
- Sunday starter Frank Duncan tossed his fourth complete game of the season, giving up one run off five hits, striking out seven in the process. He also didn’t allow a walk.
- Colby Wright posted a career-high four RBIs against TTU (May 2), including a 2-for-4 effort at the dish.
- Junior right fielder Dakota Smith batted .385 (5-for-13) against the Red Raiders, including a three-hit performance Friday night (May 2).
- Frank Duncan‘s seven strikeouts moved his career total to 259, ranking him No. 2 all-time in KU history.
- Freshman closer Stephen Villines came on in the ninth in Saturday’s game (May 3) against Texas Tech, picking up his sixth save with a one-two-three, 12-pitch inning.
- Michael Suiter ranks 10th in the Big 12 in batting average (.328), tied for fourth in hits (64) and is sixth in on-base percentage (.427).
- Junior designated hitter Connor McKay is tied for second in the conference in home runs (9) and stands fourth in RBIs with 41.
- As a squad, KU is in third place in the conference standings with the fourth-best offense and sixth-best pitching staff.
IRONMAN: Junior left fielder Michael Suiter is the lone Jayhawk to start all 51 games on the season, and in fact, has played all but one inning for Kansas this year, as he was taken out of Friday night’s game against TTU (May 2) after he mashed his three-run home run.
BRING OUT THE BROOMS: For the first time since 1994, the Kansas baseball team swept back-to-back conference opponents, a feat that has never been done by the Jayhawks in Big 12 play. Kansas took three games from Baylor (April 25-27) and beat Wichita State in midweek action, before sweeping No. 19 Texas Tech (May 2-4) at the Hog.
THE “WRIGHT” STUFF: Sophomore second baseman Colby Wright led the Big 12 Conference and the Kansas baseball team with a .692 batting average (9-for-13) in four starts during week 12 of the regular season. In 19 plate appearances, the Castro Valley, California, native drew five walks, was hit by a pitch, smoked three doubles, hit six singles, drove in seven RBIs and scored seven times. His .789 on-base percentage ranked first in the conference for the week of play, while his .923 slugging percentage ranked third.
His career-high four hits (4-for-4) at Wichita State (April 29) paced the Jayhawks to a 10-3 win, as he reached base in all five plate appearances. In Friday night’s bout with No. 19 Texas Tech (May 2), the sophomore set another career high with four RBIs, leading KU to an 11-3 victory over the Red Raiders and setting up the series sweep. To round out the weekend, Wright posted a 3-for-4 effort at the plate and was responsible for three of Kansas’ four runs (two RBIs and a run scored) helping the Jayhawks sweep back-to-back conference opponents for the first time since 1994.
ON THE RISE: KU started last weekend of play with an RPI of 57. After completing the sweep of No. 19 Texas Tech, the Jayhawks rose 21 spots to No. 36 in the NCAA RPI. However, following the loss to Missouri State (May 7), Kansas dropped four spots to No. 40. The Big 12 Conference ranks second as a league in RPI, right behind the SEC.
FINISHING WHAT THEY START: Senior right handers Jordan Piche’ and Frank Duncan each tossed complete games on the bump for KU against No. 19 Texas Tech. Piche’ went the distance allowing three runs, one earned, off seven hits, while Duncan gave up one run off five hits. Both starters also struck out seven batters each without allowing a walk.
WEEKEND DOMINANCE: The Kansas pitching staff dominated on the mound against No. 19 Texas Tech, the best offense entering last weekend of play. The hurlers allowed just eight runs in the three games, striking out 14 batters. The most impressive stat, however, is that the Jayhawks allowed just one walk on the weekend in 27 innings pitched, holding the Red Raiders to a .248 batting average.
UP NEXT: Kansas hits the road for Ann Arbor, Michigan, as the Jayhawks close out the regular-season with a two-game set against the Wolverines, May 17-18.
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