Jayhawks Travel to Lone Star State to Meet Eastern Michigan
Feb. 27, 2013
LEADING OFF: Kansas baseball will play a four-game series against Eastern Michigan in Grand Prairie, Texas, beginning Friday, March 1 at 2 p.m. The teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday, beginning at noon, while Sunday’s finale is slated for an 11 a.m. start. All four games will be played at QuikTrip Park, the home of the Grand Prairie Air Hogs.
ON THE AIR: All four games from the Eastern Michigan series can be heard live on AT&T Jayhawk All-Access. A link to All-Access can be found on KUAthletics.com. Aaron Berlin and Pat Strathman will call the action from QuikTrip Park.
SERIES HISTORY: Kansas and Eastern Michigan will be meeting for the 10th time in Friday’s opener. The Jayhawks lead the all-time series 5-4, including 1-1 at neutral sites. The Eagles took 2-of-3 from the Jayhawks in Lawrence in 2011.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS: For a second-straight weekend, winter weather has forced the Jayhawks to alter their schedule. The Jayhawks were scheduled to meet Eastern Michigan and Iowa in the Jayhawk Classic in Lawrence, but instead will face the Eagles in Grand Prairie, Texas. KU is 4-2 in neutral site games this season.
KU’s offense has shown a remarkable turnaround through the first two weeks of the year, batting .333 with 10 doubles and 14 stolen bases. The Jayhawks are averaging 6.7 runs per game. Freshman 1B/DH Jacob Boylan is second in the Big 12 Conference with a .520 batting average and has three doubles, a triple and a .720 slugging percentage. On the mound, junior RHP Frank Duncan leads the team with a 1.98 ERA in two starts and is 1-0 with 11 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings. Duncan ranks seventh in the Big 12 with a .204 opponents’ batting average and ninth in ERA.
SCOUTING THE EAGLES: Eastern Michigan enters the weekend in Grand Prairie with a record of 1-5 after being swept in a four-game series last weekend at Washington State. EMU split a pair of games against Campbell in their first weekend of the season. The Eagles were predicted to finish third in the Mid-American Conference’s Western Division in the conference’s preseason poll.
EMU’s offense ranks second in the MAC with a .266 batting average, while the Eagles are averaging 4.7 runs per game. Junior C Adam Sonabend leads the team with a .375 batting average (9-for-24) with a double and a team-best seven RBIs. Senior OF Jamie Simpson has the top slugging percentage on the team (.591) with two triples and one of two home runs on the team.
On the mound, EMU is holding opponents to a .266 batting average and rank ninth in the conference with a 6.02 team ERA. Senior RHP Kendall Lewis leads the Eagles’ staff with the lone victory and a 1.38 ERA in 13 innings. Lewis has held his opposition to a .156 batting average this season. Kansas will also face senior RHP Neil Butara on Friday afternoon. Butera is 0-2 this season, but has just one walk and six strikeouts in 12 innings pitched.
Eagles head coach Jay Alexander is in his fifth season at EMU and has a record of 115-125 at the school. Alexander went to Eastern Michigan from Wayne State University, where he led the Warriors to league championships in 2005 and 2008.
LAST TIME OUT: Senior Alex DeLeon went 3-for-3 and scored three times, while the Jayhawk bullpen pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings to record their third victory as Kansas downed Jackson State, 10-6 in a non-conference baseball game at Bear Stadium in Conway, Ark., on Feb. 23.
DUNCAN DOMINANCE: Junior RHP Frank Duncan was dominant in his second start of the year, holding SIU-Edwardsville scoreless over 7 2/3 innings on Feb. 22. The third-year starting pitcher held the Cougars to four base runners (two hits, two walks), while none of them reached as far as third base. After allowing a one-out walk in the third inning, he retired 14 of the last 16 men he faced in the game.
With the start, Duncan lowered his season ERA to 1.98, which ranks ninth in the Big 12 Conference. He also ranks seventh in the league, holding opponents to a .204 batting average.
BOYLAN POINT: Freshman DH/1B Jacob Boylan continues to swing a hot bat for the Jayhawks. The first-year player has hit safely in all seven games this season, including a team-best four multi-hit games. His seven-game hitting streak is the longest by a Kansas freshman since Ka’iana Eldredge hit safely in seven-straight games in 2011.
SMOOTH CRIMINALS: KU stole six bases in its Feb. 23 win over Jackson State, the most by a Jayhawk team since April 12, 2006, when the Jayhawks also had six steals against North Dakota State. Junior OF Tucker Tharp led the team with three in the game, while Joe Moroney, Alex DeLeon and Jordan Dreiling also each added a stolen base.
As a team, KU ranks third in the Big 12 in stolen bases and have utilized its running game a lot more this season. The Jayhawks enter the third week of play with 14 steals in 21 attempts. By contrast, Kansas had just seven steals in its first seven games last year.
BULLPEN EFFECTIVENESS: One of the biggest questions facing the Jayhawks heading into the season was how effective would its relief pitching be. Through the first seven games, the answer is very effective. KU enters its third weekend of play with a bullpen ERA of 2.42, while holding its opposition to a .207 batting average. Sophomore RHP Robert Kahana and junior RHP Jordan Piché have combined for three wins and a save this season.
AROUND THE HORN:
KU-EASTERN MICHIGAN CONNECTIONS:
UP NEXT: The Jayhawks will open play at Hoglund Ballpark with a four-game series against Niagara on Thursday, March 7 at 3 p.m. KU will also host the Purple Eagles on March 8 at 3 p.m., March 9 at 1 p.m., and March 10 at noon.