Kansas baseball's road conference slate wraps up with in-state rival K-State
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas baseball team wraps up its slate of conference road games when the Jayhawks travel to in-state rival Kansas State May 11-13 for the annual Dillons Sunflower Showdown at Tointon Family Stadium.
Kansas (22-25, 5-12 Big 12) is coming off a 3-1 week that included a series victory over a red-hot West Virginia team. The Wildcats (18-29, 3-18 Big 12) enter the weekend on a six-game losing streak after being swept in back-to-back conference weekend series vs. Baylor and at Oklahoma.
Friday’s contest will be available on COX Kansas with Saturday’s game on ESPN3 and Sunday’s contest on Fox Sports 1. In addition, all three games can be heard on the Jayhawk Radio Network via KUAtheltics.com/Radio with Friday (KLWN) and Sunday’s (KCTE) contests also on the dial.
- Kansas’ all-time record: 1,907-1,838-18 (.509)
- Head coach Ritch Price’s record in Division I: 704-683-4 (.508)
- Price’s record at Kansas: 487-455-3 (.517)
- Kansas won its first series of the season since March 31, after taking two out of three against West Virginia (May 4-6).
- That marks seven series victories on the year for KU including sweeps over then-No. 20 St. John’s and Texas Southern.
- The series victory over the Mountaineers also closed a four-game week where the Jayhawks achieved a record of 3-1 – their best week since a perfect 4-0 mark Feb. 26 – March 4.
- The 3-1 record also comes on the heels of snapping an 11-game winless streak at Missouri State (May 2) after winning just two games in the month of April.
- The Jayhawks have had a total of nine games affected in some way by the weather this spring, including four cancellations and five alterations.
- Of the 25 losses by the Jayhawks this season, seven have been by two or less runs, while nine have been by 10 or more runs.
- On the flip side, of KU’s 22 victories, 13 have come by three or more runs with Kansas winning seven games by five or more runs, including three 10-plus run victories.
- Sophomore second baseman James Cosentino ranks 16th in the nation and first in the Big 12 Conference with 18 hit-by-pitches on the season.
- Junior closer Zack Leban leads the league with 11 saves, that also ranks him tied for No. 17 in the country.
After getting boat raced 21-3 in the Friday opener (May 4) against West Virginia, the Jayhawks buckled down to win the next two games to claim their seventh series of the season. Kansas relied on the arms of sophomore Ryan Zeferjahn and senior Taylor Turski to get the job done. Combined, the duo pitched 13 innings, faced 53 batters, gave up 11 hits, three runs and struck out 15. That allowed KU to outscore the Mountaineers 18-5 in those two contests to claim the series.
For the third time this season, Kansas connected for three home runs in a game when sophomores Benjamin Sems and James Cosentino, and senior Owen Taylor, each hit one against West Virginia (May 6). In those three contests, the Jayhawks hold a record of 2-1. When KU hits two or more bombs, they win 67 percent of the time (4-for-6).
HOME RUN TIMES TWO
Redshirt-sophomore right fielder Brendt Citta hit two home runs in the second game of the series against West Virginia (May 5) to turn in a career-high five RBIs and double his season home run total (4). Those two bombs for Citta mark the first multi-homer game for a Kansas player since May 15, 2016, when Colby Wright connected for two dingers at Kansas State.
Junior left fielder Devin Foyle connected for a single in the fourth inning of Sunday’s games against WVU (May 6), extending his hitting streak to 11 games. During that span, Foyle is batting .405 (17-for-42) with three doubles, three home runs, seven RBIs and 10 runs scored.
Sophomore catcher Jaxx Groshans hit a career-high two, two-out, two-RBI doubles in Wednesday’s (May 2) win at Missouri State. Those two doubles and four RBIs both matched his personal-bests heading into the night, and were the two biggest swings of the game – one to give KU the lead early, and the other to put the game out of reach.
A DAY OF REST
Sophomore second baseman James Cosentino did not start or play in the final game at Cincinnati (April 29) – the first missed game of his career. That day of rest proved pertinent as the lefty bat reached base in all but one plate appearance at Missouri State (May 2). Cosentino drew a walk, wore a pitch, singled and homered, while collecting two RBIs and scoring three times.
SWING FOR THE FENCES
Junior left fielder Devin Foyle hit his eighth home run of the season at Cincinnati (April 27) and leads the team in that category. Those eight four baggers mark the most for a KU hitter since the 2015 season when Blair Beck (8) achieved the same feat.
STOPPER OF THE YEAR
The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) named Kansas junior right-handed closer Zack Leban to the 2018 Midseason Stopper of the Year Watch List (April 26). Leban is one of three Big 12 arms to grace the list of 41 names and leads the league with 11 saves.
Junior right hander Jackson Goddard made his first start in conference play this season at Oklahoma State (April 22) and his first start since March 9, 2018. That marks a stretch of 44 days between starts as Goddard was out of the rotation due to a strained oblique. In his first start back from injury, Goddard retired the first seven hitters he faced via the strikeout. It took Goddard just 34 pitches to record those seven K’s. His season high entering the game was also seven, and he broke that with an eight-strikeout performance in his four-inning abbreviated start.
WATCH OUT FOR LEBAN, ZEFERJAHN
The College Baseball Foundation released its initial Pitcher of the Year Award Watch List on Thursday (April 19), highlighting 78 of the top arms in the country that includes two Kansas baseball hurlers – junior Zack Leban and sophomore Ryan Zeferjahn. Kansas is one of 15 schools out of the 298 that sponsor Division I baseball to have two or more names represented on the list of 78.
With a 17-3 thumping of then-No. 5 Texas Tech on Sunday (April 8), head coach Ritch Price earned his 700th-career victory at the Division I level. Only 18 other active Power Five coaches can say they have accomplished that feat. Already the all-time winningest coach in Kansas history, Price has amassed 487 wins during his 16-year stint as the Jayhawks’ skipper, accounting for 25.5 percent of the program’s 1,907 victories spanning 126 seasons played.
THE DEAN OF BIG 12 BASEBALL
Kansas head coach Ritch Price is the most tenured skipper in the Big 12 Conference as he has coached in 398 league games – 21 more than any other current coach. Now in his 16th season in the league, he has one more than Kansas State’s Brad Hill and 10 more than the majority of the conference’s head coaches.
1. 398 – Ritch Price, Kansas (16th season)
2. 377 – Brad Hill, K-State (15th season)
3. 141 – Tim Tadlock, Texas Tech (Sixth season)
4. 136 – Jim Schlossnagle, TCU (Sixth Season)
5. 133 – Josh Holliday, Oklahoma State (Sixth Season)
6. 134 – Randy Maze, West Virginia (Sixth Season)
7. 66 – Steve Rodriguez, Baylor (Third Season)
8. 44 – David Pierce, Texas (Second Season)
9. 21 – Skip Johnson, Oklahoma (First Season)
Kansas closes out the regular season with a three-game conference showdown against Oklahoma (May 17-19) before hosting Western Illinois for a Sunday matinée at Hoglund Ballpark.
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