Kansas baseball exits Nebraska scrimmage with optimism
LINCOLN, Neb. – When the Kansas baseball team arrived in Lincoln, Nebraska on Friday, they were ungraciously welcomed with 50-degree weather and blustery conditions. That, however, had little impact on the team’s scrimmage performance against the Cornhuskers at 11:30 a.m. Saturday morning.
“It was a good, productive day,” head coach Ritch Price said. “We accomplished what we needed to, and it was great to get out there and compete against another university. [Haymarket Park] is an absolutely phenomenal stadium to get to play in.”
Score was not kept in the matchup, but Price noted that the competition was relatively even between the two teams and said they “probably split.”
Production was visible in both facets of the game, as pitchers and position players both had success.
The bullpen performance stood out most notably with seven Jayhawk relievers throwing shutout innings. Right-handers Stone Parker, Jonah Ulane and Brandon Ponticelli and left-handers Hunter Freese, Nathan Barry and Steve Washilewski turned in zeroes.
Offensively, several Kansas players were contributors. Rudy Karre and Benjamin Sems recorded three hits, while Kaimana Souza-Paaluhi and Dylan Ditzenberger each had two.
Prior to the road trip, Price mentioned that he wanted to see how the team “handles the adversity that’s going to happen when [they] play at game speed,” and “how competitive some of [the] young guys are.” He was pleased with the results.
Price credited patience by his underclassmen as the reason for his team’s strong showing.
“[Quality at-bats were] the highlight of the day for us offensively,” Price said. “We put together good at-bats and we managed to get a few extra-base hits.”
Last season, Nebraska finished with a record just under .500, but the red and white have seen success as recent as their 2017 campaign when they finished 35-22-1 and earned a NCAA tournament berth.
Officially, the former Big 12-rival Cornhuskers maintain an all-time advantage of 143-102-1 over the Jayhawks.
Despite the reassuring performances by his relievers and hitters, Price pointed to his weekend starting pitchers as an opportunity to improve. In their appearances against Nebraska, junior Ryan Zeferjahn, redshirt-freshman Eli Davis and redshirt-junior Ryan Cyr struggled with their command, primarily when dialing up fastballs.
According to Price, fastball control will be key in attempting to lower the team ERA this spring. Kansas finished last in the Big 12 in team ERA at 6.15 a year ago.
However, Topeka-native Zeferjahn was a bright spot for the rotation last year, finishing second in the Big 12 in wins (8) and strikeouts (100).
Kansas will travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma to face Oral Roberts on October 20 for its second and final scrimmage of the fall season. The Jayhawks and the Golden Eagles last met in their 2017 campaigns when they each won one game of the two-game season series.
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