Jayhawks Host K-State for Annual Sunflower Showdown

Senior righty Drew Morovick will be making his final start at Hoglund Ballpark Saturday, May 16.
Kansas vs. Kansas State
Date: May 15-17, 2015
Ballpark: Hoglund Ballpark
Location: Lawrence, Kansas
TV: Jayhawk Television Network
ESPN3: Fri. | Sat. | Sun.
Radio: Jayhawk Radio Network
Audio: Baseball Hawk Talk
Live Stats: Kansas Live Stats
Notes: Game Notes
Impact Players
C. McKay .355 214 44 76 21
M. Tinsley .328 186 28 61 36
S. Conlon .326 172 33 56 24
T. Moore .317 145 22 46 29
Starting Rotation
Kansas W-L ERA IP K
B. Krauth 7-4 3.14 86.0 82
D. Morovick 4-4 4.18 71.0 30
N. Griep 5-2 2.58 69.2 55

LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas baseball team closes out regular-season play May 15-17, as the Jayhawks welcome in-state rival Kansas State to Hoglund Ballpark for the annual Sunflower Showdown presented by Dillons.
Kansas (22-30, 7-13 Big 12) and Kansas State (24-27, 8-13 Big 12) are slated to get the series rolling Friday, May 15, with a 6 p.m. first pitch. KU and the Wildcats will be meeting for the 355th, 356th and 357th time in the two schools’ histories, with the Jayhawks leading the way with 183 wins compared to the 170 of K-State, with one tie in the books.
In their most recent meeting, the Jayhawks traveled to Manhattan, Kansas, in 2014 and took the series from the then-defending Big 12 champions, two games to one. Kansas hopes to do the same at home this season, for more than just bragging rights.
The Jayhawks need to win the series against the Wildcats to ensure a spot in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship in Tulsa, Oklahoma. KU currently sits at the bottom of the Big 12 standings, and only the top eight schools in the conference get into the tournament. If the team is unable to win the series against the in-state rival, they may be left out of the tournament for the first time since 2011, depending on the outcome of two other schools’ final series.
“There is no question that this is a crucial weekend series,” head coach Ritch Price said. “Since Missouri left the conference, Kansas State has become our rival, but this weekend we are not only playing to win the state of Kansas, but to get into the conference tournament.”
Out to prove they are worthy of the league tournament, eight seniors looking to leave a lasting mark one last time in KU baseball history will power the Jayhawks. Sunday’s 2 p.m. game will be the last time the seniors will suit up in the Crimson and Blue in front of their home crowd, and could potentially be the biggest game of their careers.
Among those seniors is left fielder Connor McKay, who enters the weekend just two hits shy of 200 for his career. McKay leads the Big 12 in doubles (21), ranks second in runs scored (44) and holds the fifth place spot in batting average (.355).
“This is a big weekend for us,” McKay said. “We are fighting for our lives. We need to win the series to move on and I know my fellow classmates don’t want this weekend to be our last.”
Kansas State ranks in the lower third in the Big 12 in batting and pitching, with a .260 average and a 4.25 ERA, respectively. In conference games, the Wildcats have the worst team batting at .232 and ranks sixth in league play with a 4.03 ERA.
Redshirt-senior infielder Shane Conlon has been the catalyst of the Wildcats’ offense, ranking 10th in the Big 12 in batting average (.326), ninth in doubles (12) and ninth in on-base percentage (.413). Of his 56 hits, Conlon has hit 12 doubles, two triples, and two home runs, driven in 24 and touched home 33 times. His .453 slugging percentage is second on the squad next to junior catcher Tyler Moore, who has had his fair share of the offensive production. Moore is second on the team with a .317 batting average, including 10 doubles, two triples, four home runs, 29 RBIs and 22 runs scored. His .497 slugging percentage ranks ninth in the league and his four bombs is half the total number KSU has hit this season.
On the mound, K-State’s reliable arm comes in as redshirt sophomore right-hander Nate Griep, who ranks ninth in the league with a 2.58 ERA. Griep has thrown two complete games, one shutout, and holds opponents to a .217 batting average. In 69 and two-thirds inning pitched, Griep has struck out 55 batters, while walking 27 for a record of 5-2.
Redshirt sophomore righty Colton Kalmus has seen substantial time on the bump next to Griep, throwing 53 and two-thirds innings in 14 appearances, making 12 starts. Kalmus (1-4) holds an ERA of 4.36 and has struck out 30 batters on the season.
All three games against the Wildcats can be seen on the Jayhawk Television Network throughout the state of Kansas and Kansas City Metro area, and on ESPN3 outside the coverage area. more information on JTV and its coverage area, please visit KUAthletics.com/JTV.
In addition, fans can tune in and listen to all three games against K-State on the Jayhawk Radio Network through KUAthletics.com/Radio or on the official Kansas Jayhawks mobile app with Shane Jackson and recent KU baseball alumnus Ka’iana Eldredge on the call. As an added bonus, Saturday and Sunday’s contests can be heard on the airwaves on KJHK 90.7 FM.
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