Jayhawks Host No. 2 Texas A&M This Weekend
April 12, 2012
LEADING OFF: Kansas will host second-ranked Texas A&M in a three-game set at Hoglund Ballpark this weekend in the Jayhawks' second conference series at home. KU will meet the Aggies Friday and Saturday at 6 p.m., and then wrap up the series on Sunday at 1 p.m.
ON THE AIR: Audio and video from all three contests will be available free of charge on AT&T Jayhawk All-Access via kuathletics.com. Fans from across the country can tune in and watch the action as well as listen to play-by-play with Tom Hedrick, Brian Hanni and Kyle West on the call. Fans in the Lawrence area can also tune in on KLWN (1320 AM).
SERIES HISTORY: Kansas and Texas A&M will be meeting for the 62nd time on the baseball diamond in Friday's opener in a series that dates back to 1906. The Aggies hold a 46-15 edge in the series with one tie. The Jayhawks are 7-13-1 against Texas A&M in Lawrence, including a 1-1-1 series split in 2010. TAMU has won 11 of the last 13 meetings overall.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS: Kansas will be looking to snap a five-game slide against the highest ranked team to visit Hoglund Ballpark since 2009. Kansas is 12-21 overall and 2-7 in Big 12 play, but is 4-3 at home this season, including a series win over Texas Tech March 30-April 1.
KU's offense averages 4.4 runs per game and ranks ninth in the Big 12 with a .251 team batting average. Senior 1B/DH Chris Manship leads the team with a .320 batting average and has a .493 slugging percentage along with 10 RBIs on the season. The Jayhawk pitching staff has a team ERA of 4.53, which is good for seventh in the Big 12. KU is holding its opponents to a .270 batting average. Sophomore RHP Frank Duncan and junior RHP Thomas Taylor pace the pitching staff with three wins apiece, while RHP Robert Kahana leads the team with a 3.08 ERA in 16 appearances.
SCOUTING THE AGGIES: Texas A&M enters the weekend series with Kansas ranked No. 2 in the country in the latest Baseball America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers' Association polls. At No. 2, the Aggies are the highest ranked team to visit Hoglund Ballpark since then-No. 1 Texas played in Lawrence March 20-22, 2009. Texas A&M is 3-0 on the road this season, sweeping a three-game set at Pepperdine.
The Aggie offense averages 6.7 runs per game and boasts a league-best .307 team batting average in 33 games. Junior OF Tyler Naquin leads the Big 12 with a .422 batting average with 11 stolen bases and a .497 on-base percentage this year. Senior 1B Jacob House has provided pop in the middle of the lineup with five homers, 32 RBIs and a .516 slugging percentage.
Texas A&M's pitching staff is one of the best in the country, boasting a 2.88 ERA, which leads the Big 12. The Aggies have held opponents to a .237 batting average and rank fifth in strikeout-to-walk ratio at 3.42. The Aggies' weekend rotation has combined to go 14-1 this year and has a combined ERA of 2.55. Senior RHP Ross Stripling leads A&M's staff with a 5-1 record, a 2.74 ERA and ranks second in the Big 12 with 61 strikeouts.
Head Coach Rob Childress is in his seventh year at Texas A&M and has an overall record of 272-142-2 at the school. Childress has led the Aggies to the postseason five times in his six years as head coach, including a College World Series appearance last year.
LAST TIME OUT: Wichita State left fielder Taylor Doggett went 3-for-3 and scored three runs, while starting pitcher Tobin Mateychick tossed six strong innings as the Shockers defeated the Kansas Jayhawks, 10-2, Wednesday night at Eck Stadium to sweep the season series from KU.
THARP TURNS IT AROUND: Sophomore OF Tucker Tharp continues to bounce back from a rough start to the season. After the first four weekends, Tharp was batting .156 and had just one extra base hit in 45 at bats. However, since March 15, the sophomore has been on a terror, going 19-for-52 (.365) with a .462 slugging percentage.
A big key for Tharp's resurgance has been his ability to make contact. The sophomore fanned 11 times in his first 45 at bats, or once every 4.1 at bats, however since March 15, he has struck out once every 6.5 at bats (eight times in 52 at bats).
FRANKLY, HE DESERVES BETTER: Perhaps no pitcher in the country has had worse luck over the last month than sophomore RHP Frank Duncan. The second-year righty is winless in his last five appearances, despite being dominant on the mound. Since his March 16 start, Duncan has allowed just 10 earned runs in 31 innings and held opponents to a .191 batting average with a pair of quality starts, going 0-3 with a pair of no-decisions due to blown save opportunities.
Despite his lack of victories, Duncan has quietly been one of the better starting pitchers in the Big 12 in his first season in that role. The sophomore ranks 15th in the league in ERA (3.38), seventh in batting average against (.212) and seventh in strikeouts (58).
THOU SHALL NOT STEAL: Base runners' worst nightmare this season has been senior C James Stanfield. Heading into the ninth weekend of the season, Stanfield has thrown out 44.4 percent of all would-be base stealers (12-for-27), 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 top defensive catchers:
Big 12 Caught Stealing Percentage
1. James Stanfield, Kansas....... .444 (12-for-27)
2. Troy Stein, Texas A&M............ .391 (9-for-23)
3. Bo Altobelli, Texas Tech........... .368 (7-for-19)
4. Jacob Felts, Texas.................. .321 (9-for-28)
5. Josh Ludy, Baylor................... .300 (6-for-20)
Kansas faces Big 12 foe Texas A&M in a three-game series at Hoglund Ballpark this weekend. The Jayhawks are 32-24-1 against conference foes at Hoglund Ballpark since 2008.
Texas A&M is ranked No. 2 in the latest Baseball America and NCBWA polls. The Aggies represent the highest ranked team to visit Hoglund Ballpark since then-No. 1 Texas played in Lawrence March 20-22, 2009.
KU is 12-19 against teams ranked in the top five under head coach Ritch Price, including 8-9 since the beginning of the 2009 season.
The Jayhawks played 26 of their first 33 games away from Hoglund Ballpark. However, KU will play 15 of its final 23 games at home.
KU has been dominant at Hoglund Ballpark over the last few years, going 176-83-1 at home under head coach Ritch Price, including 81-33-1 since 2008.
While the Jayhawks have only played seven games at Hoglund Ballpark, KU's offense has excelled at home this year. As a team, KU has averaged 6.6 runs per game and batted .269 in its home games.
KU's 16-inning loss to Wichita State on Tuesday night marked the second-longest game in school history and the longest since an 18-inning game against Oklahoma State on April 15, 1967.
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 24 stolen bases this season, which is fifth fewest in the Big 12. The Jayhawks have also caught 17-of-41 attempted base stealers (41.5 percent).
KU's outfielders have recorded 11 assists this season after collecting just 13 all of last season. Freshman Connor McKay leads the team with four assists, including gunning down a runner at the plate Wednesday at Wichita State. Sophomore Tucker Tharp ranks second with three, while freshman Michael Suiter tossed out a pair of base runners from the outfield.
Kansas collected eight two-out RBIs in the Texas Tech series and has 22 in the team's last 10 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 .517 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 eighth RBI on Wednesday at Wichita State. Stanfield had just nine RBIs in 39 games last year.
Junior C Alex DeLeon continues to swing a hot bat with men on base. In 33 at bats this year, DeLeon has 17 hits with men on base (.515) and leads the team with 10 two-out RBIs.
Redshirt junior 1B Jake Marasco collected an RBI double Wednesday night at Wichita State. In six career games against the Shockers, the Wichita, Kan. native is 7-for-19 with four doubles and four runs scored.
Sophomore 2B Ka'iana Eldredge is 8-for-24 with a double and six runs scored in home games this season.
Junior SS Kevin Kuntz has reached base in 28 of the team's 33 games, including eight of nine Big 12 contests.
Senior 3B Zac Elgie extended his hitting streak to a team-best nine games Wednesday at Wichita State. Elgie is batting .333 (11-for-33) during his streak with three doubles and a homer.
Sophomore OF Tucker Tharp tied a school record with eight at bats in Tuesday's game against Wichita State.
Freshman OF Michael Suiter has still found ways to reach base without the benefit of base hits. Suiter has reached base at a .333 clip this year (14 walks, seven HBPs), despite a .189 batting average.
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 has dominated right-handed hitters this year, allowing just 21 hits in 121 at bats against righties (.174).
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 14th in the Big 12 in earned run average with a 3.05 ERA in 16 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.
Kansas has one player on its roster from Texas, OF Taylor Hart (Jasper), while Texas A&M has no Kansas natives on its roster.
Texas A&M media relations contact Adam Quisenberry served as KU's baseball contact during the 2005 season.
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 will play two makeup games next week against NAIA opponents Baker and Saint Mary (Kan.). The Jayhawks will face Baker Tuesday at 6 p.m., before taking on Saint Mary at 6 p.m. on Wednesday. Admission to both games is free of charge for all fans.