Kansas Baseball Hits the Road for UTSA Classic
Feb. 29, 2012
LEADING OFF: Kansas baseball continues on its road swing this weekend when it travels to San Antonio, Texas to participate in the UTSA Classic at Wolff Stadium. The Jayhawks will take on tournament host, UTSA, Friday at 6 p.m., and then face Louisiana Saturday at 2 p.m., and Gonzaga Sunday at noon.
ON THE AIR: Audio from all three games is available on Jayhawk All-Access with Tom Hedrick and Kyle West on the call. A link to the audio can be found at kuathletics.com. Fans can also follow the action on GameTracker with a link also provided at kuathletics.com.
SERIES HISTORIES: KU is 3-0 all-time against UTSA, after sweeping a three-game series from the Roadrunners during the 2000 season. The Jayhawks also won their only meeting with Gonzaga, 9-5, on Feb. 27, 2010 in a game played in Peoria, Ariz. This weekend’s game will be the first meeting between KU and Louisiana on the baseball field.
ABOUT KANSAS: Kansas heads into the third weekend of play at 5-2 after splitting four games in Starkville, Miss. KU won two lopsided games against Mississippi Valley State and dropped a pair of tight contests to Mississippi State.
The Jayhawks have averaged 5.1 runs per game and rank sixth in the Big 12 with a .268 team batting average. Freshman OF Michael Suiter leads KU with a .381 batting average with a double and a .480 on-base percentage. The Jayhawks’ pitching staff has been spectacular, leading the conference with a 1.37 ERA and holding opponents to a .169 batting average. Junior RHP Thomas Taylor is 1-0 on the season and has a spotless 0.00 ERA in 14 innings pitched.
SCOUTING THE ROADRUNNERS: UTSA heads into the third weekend of action at 6-3 overall after winning at Dallas Baptist, 5-4, on Tuesday night and took three of four from New Mexico last weekend. The Roadrunners are 4-3 at home this season and 2-0 on the road.
The Roadrunners lead the Southland Conference with a .298 team batting average and have averaged 6.8 runs per game so far this season. Sophomore OF Riley Good is among the nation’s leaders with a .525 batting average (21-for-40) with three doubles, a homer and 15 runs scored. Junior OF Daniel Rockett has provided the pop in the middle of the lineup with a .486 slugging percentage with two homers and 11 RBIs.
UTSA’s pitching staff ranks ninth in the conference with a 4.66 team ERA. KU will face senior LHP Casey Sensor on Friday night. Sensor is 2-0 this year with a 4.09 ERA with three walks and nine strikeouts in 11 innings this season. Three different pitchers have tallied saves for UTSA, including sophomore RHP Matt Sims, who leads the team with two in five appearances.
Head coach Sherman Corbett is in his 12th season with the Roadrunners and has an overall record of 332-297 at the school. He has led UTSA to three conference championships and an NCAA Tournament appearance in 2005.
SCOUTING THE RAGIN’ CAJUNS: Louisiana heads to the UTSA Classic with a 5-3 record after sweeping three games from Towson over the weekend and defeating Alcorn State Tuesday night. The Ragin’ Cajuns are 4-0 at home this season, but just 1-3 away from Moore Field.
UL has averaged 5.6 runs per game and ranks fourth in the Sun Belt Conference with a .283 team batting average. Sophomore 1B Chase Compton leads the Ragin’ Cajuns with a .500 batting average (15-for-30 with four doubles, a triple and leads the team with eight RBIs. Senior OF Brian Bowman is tops on the team with six stolen bases and has a .375 batting average in eight games.
The Ragin’ Cajuns rank second in the Sun Belt with a 2.92 team ERA and have held opponents to a .234 batting average. KU will likely face senior RHP Jordan Nicholson on Saturday afternoon. Nicholson is 1-0 this season with a 1.50 ERA in two starts. He has not allowed a base on balls and has 10 strikeouts in 12 innings. Sophomore RHP Matt Hicks and junior RHP Derek Howell have each recorded a save. Hicks is also 1-0 on the mound and has yet to allow a run in nine innings this year.
Head coach Tony Robichaux is 613-412-1 in 17-plus seasons at UL and 876-589-1 in 26 seasons as a Division I coach, which includes time at McNeese State. Robichaux has led the Ragin’ Cajuns to eight NCAA Regionals, two trips to the Super Regionals and the 2000 College World Series.
SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS: Gonzaga enters its third weekend of play undefeated at 7-0. The Bulldogs swept a three-game series from Nebraska to open the year and then took two from Illinois and Lamar in Beaumont, Texas last weekend.
The Bulldogs have averaged 7.7 runs per game and rank second in the West Coast Conference with a .337 batting average. Senior 3B Eric Lane leads GU with a .471 batting average with three doubles and eight runs scored. Sophomore 1B Marco Gonzales is the team’s top run producer with 10 RBIs to go along with his .304 batting average.
Gonzaga’s pitching staff ranks fourth in the WCC with a 2.59 team ERA. KU will face senior RHP Andy Hunter on Sunday afternoon. Hunter is 1-0 this season with a 3.00 ERA and one complete game and three walks and 12 strikeouts in 15 innings this year. Freshman RHP Zach Abbruzza leads the team with two saves and has a 3.00 ERA in three appearances this season.
Head coach Mark Machtoff is in his ninth season at GU and has a record of 239-198-1 at the school. Machtoff led the Bulldogs to a West Coast Conference title and an NCAA Regional berth in 2009.
LAST TIME OUT: After struggling to score runs in its previous two games, Kansas baseball bounced back in a big way Sunday. The Jayhawks tallied 14 runs on 12 hits, which included three-run homers by senior Zac Elgie and freshman Joey Luvisi as KU routed Mississippi Valley State, 14-1, in a seven-inning game played at Dudy Noble Field.
TAYLOR MADE: Redshirt-junior RHP Thomas Taylor recorded his second consecutive start without allowing a run. The 6-foot-4 righty tossed 5 2/3 shutout innings at Mississippi State on Saturday, taking a no-decision. He held the Bulldog offense to just four hits with one walk and five strikeouts.
Taylor has not allowed a run in his first 14 innings on the mound this season, which is the fourth-longest streak by a KU pitcher all-time and the longest since Brian Rhodes opened the 1976 season with 15 consecutive scoreless innings. Below is a look at the list of longest streaks to open the year:
Longest Scoreless Innings Streak to Start the Season
1. Steve Corder (1972)... 21 2/3 IP
2. Bob Cox (1972)......... 20 2/3 IP
3. Brian Rhodes (1976)........ 15 IP
4. Thomas Taylor (2012).. 14 IP
5. Shaeffer Hall (2009)... 13 1/3 IP
HISTORIC HOMER: Freshman IF Joey Luvisi became the first Jayhawk in 30 years to homer in his initial collegiate at bat. Luvisi’s three-run homer in the fifth inning against Mississippi Valley State Sunday gave KU its final margin of victory. It also marked the first time a Jayhawk has done this since Jeff Long hit a pinch-hit three-run homer at Emporia State on March 10, 1982.
WES SIDE STORY: While junior Thomas Taylor has garnered the most attention of KU’s starting pitchers, freshman LHP Wes Benjamin has been nearly as impressive. In Benjamin’s first two collegiate starts, the 6-foot-1 lefty has allowed just one run and is coming off a 6 1/3 inning performance where he held Mississippi State scoreless on four hits.
One of the biggest factors in the freshman’s success has been his control. Benjamin has walked just one hitter in 13 1/3 innings and held the opposition to a .205 batting average against him.
• Kansas will make its first of two trips to San Antonio this season and first of four journeys to the state of Texas.
• KU is 15-10-1 against current members of the Southland Conference; 19-9 against Sun Belt members and 3-2 against West Coast Conference members.
• Kansas leads the Big 12 with a 1.37 ERA, which ranks third among schools in the six BCS conferences.
• KU is also tops in the conference in hits allowed (33), runs allowed (11) and walks allowed (20).
• Kansas has outhit all but one of its opponents this season. Last season, KU was 18-7 when it outhit its opposition.
• KU’s 56-game schedule features 25 games against teams that qualified for the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
• The Jayhawks’ bullpen went its first 9 2/3 innings without allowing its first run (ninth inning at Mississippi State on Feb. 24).
• The Jayhawks set season highs in runs (14) and hits (12) against Mississippi Valley State on Feb. 26.
• KU’s 10-run inning against Mississippi Valley State marked the most runs the team has scored in a single inning since it scored 11 runs in the sixth inning against Tabor in 2007.
• Senior C James Stanfield collected two hits in the first inning against Mississippi Valley State on Feb. 26. He became the first Jayhawk to accomplish this feat since Tony Thompson had two singles in the seventh inning at Oklahoma State on April 30, 2010.
• Sophomore 2B Ka’iana Eldredge recorded his first multi-hit game of the season Sunday against Mississippi Valley State. Last season, Eldredge did not record a multi-hit game until his ninth game of the season.
• Senior 3B Zac Elgie hit his team-leading 15th career home run against Mississippi Valley State Sunday.
• Freshman OF Michael Suiter went 3-for-3 with a pair of walks in the Feb. 24 win over the Delta Devils. It gave him nine consecutive plate appearances reaching base safely.
• Freshman OF Connor McKay led off the game with a home run against Mississippi Valley State on Feb. 24. It marked the first time a Jayhawk has done this since Brandon Macias hit a leadoff homer against Texas on April 23, 2011.
• Sophomore OF Tucker Tharp drove in four runs over the weekend and is batting .300 with men in scoring position this year.
• Senior IF Chris Manship collected his second triple of the season on Feb. 24. Manship had not tripled in his college career prior to this season, spanning 242 at bats.
• Senior RHP Jordan Jakubov has not allowed a run in three appearances out of the bullpen this year.
• Freshman RHP Drew Morovick recorded seven strikeouts in his college debut on Feb. 26. It was the most strikeouts by a Jayhawk freshman since Thomas Taylor fanned eight against Missouri at Kauffman Stadium in 2010.
• Kansas OF Taylor Hart is a native of Jasper, Texas. He is the only player on the KU roster from the Lone Star State.
• Kansas OF Jason Brunansky and Gonzaga IF Steven Halcomb are both natives of Poway, Calif. and were teammates at Poway High School.
• Kansas IF Joey Luvisi, LHP Jordan Luvisi and OF Brian Poupore, along with Gonzaga OF Royce Bolinger are all natives of Scottsdale, Ariz. However, Bolinger attended Chaparral High School while the three Jayhawks attended Notre Dame Prep.
• Kansas C Alex DeLeon (Woodland Hills) and Bulldog C Travis Forbes (Granada Hills) grew up in northwest suburban Los Angeles, Calif.
• Other players on Kansas and Gonzaga’s rosters that grew up in the Los Angeles area include: RHP Matt Kohorst (Pasadena), Drew Morovick (Hemet) and Taylor Rappaport (Riverside) for Kansas. For Gonzaga, freshman IF Lorenzo Bonina (Santa Margarita) is a native of the Los Angeles area.
BACKDRAFT: KU’s 2012 roster features nine players who were drafted by Major League organzations out of high school, but decided to become Jayhawks. Senior IF Zac Elgie (Oakland) was selected in the 2008 Amateur Draft. Juniors IF Kevin Kuntz (Kansas City), LHP Jordan Luvisi (Arizona), RHP Tanner Poppe (Kansas City) were all selected in the 2009 draft. Sophomore IF Ka’iana Eldredge (Cincinnati) was drafted in 2010, while freshmen LHP Wes Benjamin (New York Yankees), RHP Robert Kahana (Colorado), OF Connor McKay (Colorado) and OF Michael Suiter (Cincinnati) were selected in last year’s draft. Poppe was also drafted last season by the Tampa Bay Rays.
300 GAME: Head coach Ritch Price reached a milestone in the Jayhawks’ season-opener. The veteran skipper earned his 300th victory at Kansas, becoming the second KU head coach to reach the 300-win plateau. Former Kansas coach Floyd Temple is the only other head man to reach 300 victories at the school, amassing 438 wins from 1954-81.
UP NEXT: Kansas will face North Dakota in the Jayhawks’ home opener on Tuesday, March 6 at Hoglund Ballpark. KU and the Fighting Sioux will meet on Tuesday at 3 p.m. and Wednesday at 3 p.m. for a brief two-game, non-conference series.