Jayhawks Host Kansas State in Sunflower Showdown Wednesday
April 24, 2012
LEADING OFF: Kansas baseball will face off with Sunflower Showdown rival Kansas State in a non-conference game on Wednesday night at Hoglund Ballpark. The Jayhawks and Wildcats will play at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the first of four meetings this season. This week's game will not count towards the Big 12 standings.
ON THE AIR: Wednesday's game will be televised statewide on Cox Cable Channel 22 as well as Metro Sports. Check local listings for the channel in your area. Fans can also tune in to listen to the game on KLWN (1320 AM) or AT&T Jayhawk All-Access at kuathletics.com.
SERIES HISTORY: Kansas and K-State will be meeting for the 343rd time on the baseball diamond Wednesday in a series that dates back to 1898. KU holds a 176-165 lead in the series with one tie. The Jayhawks have an 86-66 lead in the games played in Lawrence. KU is 11-15 against the Wildcats under head coach Ritch Price. The Wildcats swept the three-game series last year to close the regular season.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS: Kansas earned its first road win over a Top 25 opponent on Friday with a 7-2 triumph over then-No. 23 Texas. The Jayhawks return home for a four-game homestand where the team is 7-5 this year.
KU's offense averages 4.3 runs per game and ranks ninth in the Big 12 with a .247 team batting average. Senior C James Stanfield leads the team with a .300 batting average with three doubles and nine RBIs. The Jayhawk pitching staff has been solid, posting a 4.27 team ERA and holding opponents to a .268 batting average. Sophomore RHP Frank Duncan is the ace of the pitching staff, posting a 3.17 ERA in nine starts with 69 strikeouts in 76 2/3 innings. He is tied with junior Thomas Taylor for the team lead with four wins.
SCOUTING THE WILDCATS: Kansas State heads to Hoglund Ballpark Wednesday after a Tuesday night battle with Wichita State in Manhattan. K-State is looking to get back on track after being swept in a three-game series at Missouri last weekend to fall to 3-12 in Big 12 play. The `Cats are 7-13 in away games this season.
K-State's offense averages 6.1 runs per game and ranks fourth in the Big 12 with a .287 batting average. Sophomore OF Jared King leads the Wildcat offense with a .387 batting average, along with nine doubles, and a .520 slugging percentage. Senior 1B Wade Hinkle is tied for second in the conference with seven homers and is batting .336 with 33 RBIs and a .523 slugging percentage.
The Wildcats' pitching staff ranks ninth in the conference with a 5.32 team ERA, while opponents are batting .296 against them. K-State has not announced a starting pitcher for Wednesday's game, but freshmen RHP Matt Wivinis and LHP Caleb Wallingford are likely options. Wivinis is 1-2 with a 5.27 ERA with 30 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings, while Wallingford started last Wednesday against Northern Colorado and has a 6.00 ERA in 10 appearances this season.
Kansas State head coach Brad Hill is in his ninth season with the Wildcats and has a record of 285-214-3 at the school and 703-305-3 overall at the NCAA level after nine years at Division II Central Missouri State. Hill has led the `Cats to three-straight NCAA regionals, which are the only three postseason appearances in school history.
LAST TIME OUT: Kansas pitchers held Texas to six hits Sunday, however four of them produced runs as the 23rd-ranked Longhorns overcame an early deficit in a 7-2 win over the Jayhawks in the rubber game of the teams' three-game Big 12 series at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
DUNCAN DOMINATES: Sophomore RHP Frank Duncan earned the title staff ace after his performance at No. 23 Texas last Friday. The second-year pitcher tossed the first complete game by a Jayhawk this year in a 7-2 win over the Longhorns, which helped him earn Big 12 Pitcher of the Week honors. Duncan made quick work of the Texas lineup, retiring 20 men in a row from the first inning until a leadoff single in the eighth.
The sophomore righty has been one of the best-kept secrets in the Big 12, posting a 3.17 ERA in his 10 starts. He ranks third in the conference in strikeouts (69), fifth in opponent batting average (.207) and second in innings pitched (76 2/3).
LET'S GET IT STARTED: Since moving into the leadoff role on April 6, sophomore OF Tucker Tharp has been one of the team's best hitters. The second-year outfielder has hit .313 as the top man in the order and .333 (13-for-39) in KU's last 10 games. Tharp has hit safely in 10 of the 13 games he's been in the leadoff role and reaching base at a .393 clip in those games.
THOU SHALL NOT STEAL: Base runners' worst nightmare this season has been senior C James Stanfield. Stanfield has thrown out 39.3 percent of all would-be base stealers (13-for-33), which leads the Big 12 among catchers that have started at least 18 games. His 13 base runners caught stealing is also tops in the conference. The senior backstop 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
Kansas hosts in-state rival Kansas State Wednesday in a non-conference game. This marks the first midweek non-league game between the schools since April 3, 2007, when the teams met on a Tuesday night in Manhattan.
Kansas returns to the friendly confines of Hoglund Ballpark for a four-game homestand. The Jayhawks are 7-5 at home this year and will play 10 of their final 15 regular season games in Lawrence.
KU committed just two errors in the Texas series and ranks 28th in the country as well as third in the Big 12 with a .975 fielding percentage.
The Jayhawks also rank 53rd in the country in sacrifice bunts (40) and 94th in walks allowed per nine innings (3.31).
Kansas knocked off then-No. 23 Texas on April 20 marked the team's first road win over a Top 25 opponent this season.
The Jayhawks earned a 5-3 win over then-No. 2 Texas A&M on April 15. It marked the highest ranked team KU has knocked off since Feb. 19, 2011 when the Jayhawks defeated then-No. 1 TCU.
KU's 16-inning loss to Wichita State on April 11 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 32 stolen bases this season. The Jayhawks have also caught 22-of-54 attempted base stealers (40.7 percent).
KU's outfielders have recorded 15 assists this season after collecting 13 all of last season. Sophomore Tucker Tharp and freshmen Connor McKay and Michael Suiter are all tied for the team lead with four assists each.
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 .519 winning percentage (532 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 has hit safely in 12 of his last 14 starts, which includes four multi-hit games during that stretch.
Redshirt junior Jake Marasco has been a much better hitter at home this season. In 11 games at Hoglund Ballpark, Marasco is batting .316 (12-for-38), compared to .233 (14-for-60) on the road.
Sophomore 2B Ka'iana Eldredge is 3-for-6 with the bases loaded this season. As a team, KU is 22-for-54 (.407).
Junior IF Jordan Dreiling leads the team with a .462 on-base percentage and has reached base in nine of his last 10 starts. During that time, he has collected nine hits and drawn 13 walks.
Junior SS Kevin Kuntz collected a career-high four RBIs in Friday's win at Texas. All four runs that Kuntz drove in came on two-out base hits.
Senior 3B Zac Elgie recorded an RBI single in the first inning of Friday's win at Texas, giving him 10 hits in 18 at bats in the opening inning (.556). Elgie has driven in 17 of his 24 runs in the first inning this year as well.
Sophomore OF Tucker Tharp leads the team with a .298 batting average in Big 12 games and is tied for the team lead with multi-hit games in four conference contests.
Freshman OF Dakota Smith has hit safely in nine-straight Big 12 games, dating back to March 31. Overall, Smith is on a career-best six-game hitting streak.
Freshman LHP Wes Benjamin recorded his team-best fifth quality start of the year Saturday at No. 23 Texas, allowing three runs on 10 hits over 6 2/3 innings.
Sophomore RHP Frank Duncan has been especially tough in the month of April. The second-year pitcher has a 2.89 ERA and has walked five and struck out 27 in 28 innings pitched this month.
Freshman LHP Jaydee Jurgensen has retired the last eight men he's faced. Jurgensen threw two perfect innings at Wichita State on April 11 and retired both men he faced last week against Saint Mary.
Freshman RHP Robert Kahana made a pair of scoreless appearances in Texas over the weekend, dropping his season ERA to 2.90, which ranks 13th in the Big 12, including tops among freshmen.
Freshman RHP Drew Morovick has been extremely effective against leadoff men. In the 28 innings that the first-year righty has started, he has allowed just four men to reach base.
Junior RHP Thomas Taylor has been dominant against right-handed hitters this season, allowing just 30 hits in 137 at bats against righties (.219).
Freshman RHP Colin Toalson has turned a corner. After taking the loss at Creighton on April 3, Toalson has made four scoreless appearances and allowed just one run in his last six innings on the mound.
Kansas State and Kansas have a combined 20 natives of the Sunflower State.
KU RHP Thomas Taylor and K-State C Dan Klein are both natives of Overland Park, Kan. Taylor and Klein were teammates at Blue Valley West High School.
Jayhawk 1B Jake Marasco and K-State RHP Matt Applegate both grew up in Wichita, Kan. However, Marasco attended Maize High School and Applegate graduated from Wichita North High School.
Kansas OF Tucker Tharp and Wildcat LHP Jared Moore are both from Boulder, Colo., however the two attended different high schools. Tharp is from Fairview High School and Moore is from Boulder High School.
Kansas State head coach Brad Hill was an assistant coach at Kansas from 1991-94.
Kansas State associate head coach John Szefc was also an assistant coach at KU for two years, 2009-10.
JAYHAWK PRO UPDATE: Kansas had 14 former student-athletes in major league organizations to open the 2012 season. 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 hosts No. 23 Oklahoma in a three-game Big 12 series this weekend at Hoglund Ballpark. The Jayhawks and Sooners will meet at 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, before wrapping up the series Sunday at 1 p.m.