Jayhawks, Shockers Renew Rivalry at Hoglund Ballpark Tuesday
April 9, 2012
LEADING OFF: Kansas baseball will face in-state rival Wichita State in a two-game series beginning Tuesday. The Jayhawks and Shockers will each play a home game in the series with KU hosting Tuesday night at 6 p.m., and Wichita State hosting Wednesday’s battle at 6:30 p.m.
ON THE AIR: Fans can tune in to Tuesday night’s game statewide on either Metro Sports or Cox 22, depending on your cable provider. Audio from both games will be available on both KLWN Radio (1320 AM) and online on AT&T Jayhawk All-Access.
SERIES HISTORY: Kansas and Wichita State will be meeting for the 69th time on the baseball diamond on Tuesday in a series that dates back to 1952. Wichita State leads the all-time series, 42-26, however KU swept the two-game set in 2011, including an 11-2 triumph at Eck Stadium.
ABOUT KANSAS: The Jayhawks will be seeking to snap a four-game losing streak Tuesday night when they return to the friendly confines of Hoglund Ballpark. KU is 4-2 at home this season and 3-11 on the road.
The Jayhawks are averaging 4.5 runs per game and batting .254 as a team with 34 doubles and 15 homers. Senior 1B/DH Chris Manship leads the team with a .319 batting average and a .500 slugging percentage. KU’s pitching staff ranks sixth in the Big 12 with a 4.43 team ERA, while holding opponents to a .271 batting average. Freshman RHP Robert Kahana has been a solid midweek starter for the Jayhawks, posting a 2.78 ERA and is 2-1 with 22 strikeouts in 32 1/3 innings.
SCOUTING THE SHOCKERS: Wichita State enters the midweek series with KU at 19-15 overall after taking two of three from Illinois State over the weekend. The Shockers are 15-8 at home this year and 4-5 in road games.
Wichita State’s offense ranks fourth in the Missouri Valley Conference with a .286 team batting average. The Shockers average 5.7 runs per game. Junior 1B Johnny Coy leads the Shocker offense with a .341 batting average with eight doubles, six homers and 37 RBIs, which ranks second in the MVC. Senior OF Don Lambert is tops on the team with a .412 on-base percentage with 10 stolen bases and a .330 batting average.
The Shockers’ pitching staff ranks third in the Missouri Valley Conference with a 3.53 team ERA, while holding opponents to a .256 batting average. The Jayhawks will face freshman LHP Kris Gardner on Tuesday night and sophomore RHP Tobin Mateychick Wednesday. Gardner is 3-1 on the year with a 3.38 ERA in five starts after tossing six innings against South Alabama on March 27. Mateychick improved to 2-0 on the year on March 28, pitching four innings against USA and allowing one earned run on two hits with three walks and three strikeouts.
Head coach Gene Stephenson is in his 35th season at Wichita State and has an overall record of 1,782-637-3. Stephenson led the Shockers to the school’s only national championship in 1989 and has taken WSU to the College World Series seven times in his tenure at the school.
LAST TIME OUT: Sophomore second baseman Ka’iana Eldredge went 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, however Oklahoma State scored two runs in the bottom of the first inning which proved to be the difference in a 4-2 Cowboy victory to complete a three-game sweep of the Jayhawks Easter Sunday at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium.
TUCKER TAKES OFF: Sophomore Tucker Tharp has turned his season around in the last couple of weeks. The second-year outfielder opened the season with just seven hits in his first 45 at-bats, but has raised his batting average by 79 points since March 15. Over KU’s last 15 games, Tharp is batting .325 (13-for-40) and reaching base at a .404 clip with six walks.
Tharp has found a way to reach base in all but one of his starts since Big 12 play opened on March 23, including six-straight dating back to the first game of the Texas Tech series. He has also been able to work deep into counts, collecting four two-strike hits in that time period.
NO. 2 IS BETTER THAN NO. 1: Junior 2B Kevin Kuntz returned to a familiar role as the team’s No. 2 hitter over the weekend at Oklahoma State and responded by going 4-for-10 with a walk and two sacrifices. Included in Kuntz’s weekend was his first three-hit game since March 4.
Kuntz has hit much better out of the No. 2 slot this season (.366) compared to being the team’s leadoff hitter (.234). He has also reached base at a .469 clip in his 12 games as the second hitter in the lineup, collecting 15 hits and drawing eight walks in 52 plate appearances.
THOU SHALL NOT STEAL: Base runners’ worst nightmare this season has been senior C James Stanfield. Heading into the eighth week of the season, Stanfield has thrown out 40.9 percent of all would-be base stealers (9-for-23), which leads the Big 12 among catchers that have started at least 15 games. Stanfield was recently added to the Johnny Bench Award Watch List, which honors the top catcher in Division I baseball each year. Below is a look at the Big 12’s caught stealing percentages among its starting catchers:
Big 12 Caught Stealing Percentage
1. James Stanfield, Kansas....... .391 (9-for-23)
2. Troy Stein, Texas A&M............ .364 (8-for-22)
3. Bo Altobelli, Texas Tech........... .333 (6-for-18)
4. Jacob Felts, Texas.................. .321 (9-for-28)
5. Josh Ludy, Baylor................... .300 (6-for-20)
• Kansas faces in-state rival Wichita State in a two-game series beginning Tuesday. The Jayhawks are 14-21 against the Shockers in games played in Lawrence and 12-21 in Wichita.
• Wichita State will be the fourth team from the Missouri Valley Conference that the Jayhawks will play this season. KU is 0-3 against the MVC this season and 63-86 all-time.
• The Jayhawks have played 25 of their first 31 games away from Hoglund Ballpark. However, KU will play 16 of its final 25 games at home.
• KU has been dominant at Hoglund Ballpark over the last few years, going 176-82-1 at home under head coach Ritch Price, including 81-32-1 since 2008.
• While the Jayhawks have only played six games at Hoglund Ballpark, KU’s offense has excelled at home this year. As a team, KU has hit .292 and averaged 7.0 runs per game in its home games.
• By taking two-of-three from Texas Tech March 30-April 1, Kansas won its first conference series since taking two-of-three at Missouri April 15-17 of last season.
• KU also snapped a 13-game losing streak in Big 12 contests with the March 31 win over the Red Raiders. The Jayhawks’ last conference win before that came on April 23, 2011 against Texas.
• KU has allowed just 20 stolen bases this season, which is the third fewest in the Big 12. The Jayhawks have also caught 12-of-32 attempted base stealers (37.5 percent).
• KU’s outfielders have recorded 10 assists this season after collecting just 13 all of last season. Freshman Connor McKay and sophomore Tucker Tharp are tied for the team lead with three each, while freshman Michael Suiter collected his second assist last weekend at Oklahoma State. Senior Jason Brunansky and Dakota Smith have also thrown a base runner out.
• Kansas collected eight two-out RBIs in the Texas Tech series and has 17 in the team’s last eight games.
• The Jayhawks’ 11-10 victory on March 21 over Southern Utah marked KU’s first walk-off win since April 2, 2011 when a bases-loaded walk in the 10th inning gave KU a 4-3 win over then-No. 19 Baylor.
• KU collected 19 hits in the 11-inning win over Southern Utah, which represented the most by the team since recording 20 hits at Oklahoma State on April 30, 2010.
• Kansas skipper Ritch Price coached his 1,000th game at the Division I level on March 6 against North Dakota. Price has a .518 winning percentage (526 wins, three ties) in 17-plus seasons at Cal Poly and Kansas.
• KU scored a season-high 10 runs in the first inning of a game against Mississippi Valley State on Feb. 26. It was the most runs scored in a single frame by a Jayhawk team since an 11-run inning against Tabor in 2007.
• Senior C James Stanfield collected his seventh RBI on Sunday against Oklahoma State. Stanfield had just nine RBIs in 39 games last year.
• Junior C Alex DeLeon hit his second home run of the season Friday night at Oklahoma State. Both of DeLeon’s home runs have come on the road against Big 12 opponents after five of his six round-trippers last season came at Hoglund Ballpark.
• Sophomore 2B Ka’iana Eldredge showed signs of breaking out on Sunday, going 2-for-4 with an RBI against Oklahoma State. Last season, Eldredge hit .313 after batting .227 during the month of March.
• Junior SS Kevin Kuntz has reached base in 27 of the team’s 31 games, including all three games of the Oklahoma State series this past weekend.
• After a slow start, junior IF Jordan Dreiling has come alive lately. After a 1-for-17 stretch in early March, Dreiling has gone 10-for-33 (.303) over his last 11 games.
• Senior 3B Zac Elgie collected two more extra-base hits in the Oklahoma State series, including his third home run of the season. Of Elgie’s 26 hits, 12 of them have been for extra bases.
• Freshman OF Dakota Smith has hit safely in five consecutive games. His base hit on March 31 against Texas Tech snapped him out of an 0-for-19 slump.
• Sophomore OF Tucker Tharp is second on the team with a .320 batting average in Big 12 games.
• Walks have haunted freshman LHP Wes Benjamin this season. In his four quality starts, Benjamin has allowed 1.54 BB/9 IP, while he has 4.29 BB/9 IP in his other four starts.
• Junior RHP Frank Duncan continues to pitch well despite a lack of run support. In his last three starts Duncan is 0-3, but has allowed just 10 earned runs in 29 innings and held opposing hitters to a .192 batting average.
• Senior RHP Jordan Jakubov has been great at cleaning up other pitchers’ innings. The senior has allowed just three of his 15 inherited base runners to score this season (20 percent).
• Freshman RHP Robert Kahana ranks ninth in the Big 12 in earned run average with a 2.78 ERA in 15 games. He also leads the conference in ERA among freshmen.
• Freshman RHP Drew Morovick has done a great job against leadoff men this season. In the 23 innings Morovick has started, just three men have reached base to open the inning (.130).
• Junior RHP Thomas Taylor has induced a team-high seven double plays, including one against Oklahoma State on Sunday.
• The Jayhawks and Shockers have a combined 23 Kansas natives on their rosters.
• KU’s Jakubov, Marasco as well as WSU’s OF/P Conner Knight and C Ryan Hege are graduates of Maize High School.
• Wichita State OF/3B Aaron Rea and LHP Albert Minnis are natives of Lawrence, Kan. Both attended Lawrence High School, while KU IF Jordan Dreiling and RHP Colin Toalson both graduated from Free State High School.
• Kansas LHP Jaydee Jurgenson and Wichita State OF Taylor Doggett are both from Lincoln, Neb., and were teammates at Lincoln Southeast High School.
JAYHAWK PRO UPDATE: Kansas had 14 former student-athletes in major league organizations to open the 2012 season last week. Below is a rundown of where the former Jayhawks have landed:
• RHP Brett Bochy opened the year with the Richmond Flying Squirrels, the Double-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants.
• LHP Sam Freeman is in his second year with the Springfield Cardinals, the Double-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals.
• LHP Tom Gorzelanny is on the Washington Nationals’ 40-man roster, but is fulfilling a rehab assignment with the Triple-A Syracuse Chiefs.
• LHP Shaeffer Hall is in his second season with the Trenton Thunder, the Double-A affiliate of the New York Yankees.
• IF Brandon Macias opened the 2012 season in Single-A with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, an affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers.
• IF Erik Morrison joined the Chicago White Sox organization this offseason and began the year in Double-A with the Birmingham Barrons.
• RHP Colton Murray opened his second professional season with the Lakewood BlueClaws, a Single-A affiliate of the Philadelphia Phillies.
• IF David Narodowski began his second season with the South Bend Silver Hawks, a Single-A affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
• IF Robby Price is in his second year of pro ball and began the 2012 season with the Charlotte Stone Crabs, an Advanced Single-A affiliate of the Tampa Bay Rays.
• RHP Cameron Selik opened his second year of professional baseball with the Potomac Nationals, a Single-A affiliate of the Washington Nationals.
• RHP Paul Smyth began his second year with the Midland Rockhounds, the Double-A affiliate of the Oakland A’s.
• LHP Mike Zagurski opened his seventh year of pro ball in Triple-A with the Reno Aces, an affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks.
UP NEXT: Kansas continues through its Big 12 schedule this weekend when it welcomes No. 2 Texas A&M to Hoglund Ballpark for a three-game series. The Jayhawks and Aggies will open the series Friday at 6 p.m., and play Saturday at 6 p.m., before completing the series at 1 p.m. Sunday.