Kansas Hosts Air Force, Missouri State in Jayhawk Classic
May 3, 2012
LEADING OFF: Kansas plays host to the Jayhawk Classic this weekend as non-conference foes Air Force and Missouri State visit Hoglund Ballpark as part of the three-team tournament. KU will play two games against Air Force, Friday (6 p.m.) and Saturday (3 p.m.), before wrapping up the weekend against Missouri State at 1 p.m., Sunday. Air Force and Missouri State will also play each other on Friday and Saturday prior to the KU games.
ON THE AIR: All three KU games of the Jayhawk Classic are available on 1320 AM KLWN, while streaming audio and video is available free of charge on AT&T Jayhawk All-Access. A link to Jayhawk All-Access is available on kuathletics.com.
SERIES HISTORY: Kansas will face Air Force for the third time on the baseball diamond Friday night after winning the previous two meetings at neutral sites. KU downed the Falcons, 4-1, on March 6 in Surprise, Ariz., last season, while Shaeffer Hall threw the seventh no-hitter in school history against Air Force in the 2009 season-opener in Millington, Tenn. KU and Missouri State will be meeting for the 47th time on Sunday, in a series that dates back to 1988. The Jayhawks and Bears have split the previous 46 games, 23-23, however MSU has won three-straight in the series, including a 9-8 triumph in Springfield on March 27 of this year.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS: Kansas scored a season high 16 runs in a win Tuesday at UALR, which marked the team's sixth victory in its last 10 games. The Jayhawks have gone 8-7 at home this season, including wins over No. 2 Texas A&M and a series victory over Texas Tech.
KU's offense averages 4.5 runs per game and is batting .250 as a team, which ranks ninth in the Big 12. Junior Jordan Dreiling leads the team with a .312 batting average and a team-best .471 on-base percentage in 25 starts. On the mound, KU has a 4.54 ERA, which ranks eighth in the conference, and has held opponents to a .272 batting average. Sophomore RHP Frank Duncan is the ace of the pitching staff, posting a 3.33 ERA with a 4-6 record and 76 strikeouts in 83 2/3 innings this year.
SCOUTING THE FALCONS: Air Force heads to the Jayhawks Classic in a tie for fourth-place in the Mountain West Conference at 5-13 in league play. The Falcons are 12-30 overall after taking two of three from San Diego State over the weekend in Colorado Springs. Air Force is 4-26 away from Falcon Field this season.
Air Force's offense averages 4.5 runs per game and is batting .254 as a team, which ranks fourth in the MWC. Sophomore 1B Seth Kline leads the team with a .360 batting average and has 19 RBIs in just 24 games this season. Junior C/OF Garrett Custons is batting .353 on the year with a team-best 14 doubles and four homers in 36 games.
The Falcons' pitching staff has posted a 5.46 ERA, which ranks fifth in the MWC and is allowing a .308 batting average to their opponents. Air Force will throw sophomore RHP Cameron White on Friday night against KU, while junior LHP Ben Bertelson will pitch Saturday. White is 3-7 on the year with a 5.00 ERA and just 14 walks in 68 1/3 innings. Bertelson is 0-8 with a 7.82 ERA in nine starts, which includes 55 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings.
Head coach Mike Kazlausky is in his second season at the Air Force Academy and has a record of 31-66 at the school. Kazlausky is an Air Force graduate and was employed as an assistant coach at the school from 1993-95. He also served as an active duty fighter pilot as recently as 2005.
SCOUTING THE BEARS: Missouri State enters its final non-conference weekend of the year leading the Missouri Valley Conference with a 10-4 record. At 31-14 overall, the Bears are receiving votes in both the USA Today and the National Collegiate Baseball Coaches Association polls. MSU took two of three from Southern Illinois last weekend and is 12-7 on the road this year.
Offensively, Missouri State averages 5.6 runs per game and is hitting .276 as a team, which ranks sixth in the MVC. Junior OF Keenan Maddox leads the Bears with a .325 batting average with six doubles, four homers and 20 RBIs, while senior 3B Brent Seifert has been MSU's top power supplier with a team-best .488 slugging percentage, 37 RBIs and is tied for the team lead with 14 doubles and five homers.
On the mound, the Bears have been dominant, posting a conference-best 2.61 ERA while holding the opposition to a .239 batting average. The Jayhawks will face junior RHP Pierce Johnson on Sunday. Despite a 2-5 record, Johnson has posted solid numbers, coming in with a 2.89 ERA and a team-high 82 strikeouts in nine starts this season. Last year, Johnson pitched a complete game at Hoglund Ballpark, allowing one run on six hits in a 5-1 MSU victory over the Jayhawks.
Head coach Keith Guttin is in his 30th season at Missouri State and has an overall record of 1,011-636 with the Bears. Guttin has led MSU to eight conference championships, seven appearances in the NCAA Tournament and a College World Series trip in 2003.
LAST TIME OUT: Junior Jordan Dreiling went 4-for-6 with three RBIs, while Alex DeLeon and Michael Suiter both hit big three-run homers as part of a six-run eighth inning as Kansas survived a slugfest with UALR, 16-12, Tuesday afternoon at Gary Hogan Field.
MAY DAY: Redshirt junior IF Jordan Dreiling matched career highs with four hits and three RBIs in the win at UALR Tuesday. Ironically, Dreiling set both marks exactly one year earlier in a 4-for-4, three-RBI effort at Texas Tech on May 1, 2011. The redshirt junior has seven career multi-RBI games, with two of them coming on May Day the last two years.
After a slow start to the year, Dreiling has been one of the top hitters in the Jayhawk lineup over the past six weeks. Since conference play started on March 23, Dreiling is batting .361 (13-for-36) with 15 runs scored and a .556 on-base percentage, drawing 16 walks in his last 59 plate appearances. He also would rank among the league leaders in batting average (.364) and on-base percentage (.559) in Big 12 games, but has not had the minimum amount of at bats to qualify.
DUNCAN DELIVERS: Sophomore RHP Frank Duncan is looking to join some elite company in Kansas history during the final weeks of the 2012 season. The second-year pitcher, who threw exclusively out of the bullpen last season, is on pace to become just the fifth pitcher in KU history to amass 100 strikeouts in a single year.
Duncan has a team-best 76 K's through his first 11 starts with at least three starts to go. He would become the first Jayhawk to fan 100 hitters in a season since 2005, when Mike Zagurski set the school record with 112 K's. Duncan's season total currently ranks fourth in the Big 12.
RUNS GALORE: Tuesday's 16-12 win over UALR saw several notable offensive accomplishments for the Jayhawks. KU scored a season-high 16 runs and also hit three home runs in a game for the first time all year. The Jayhawks also scored six of their 16 runs with two outs in the inning, junior Alex DeLeon collected four of KU's two-out RBIs. Every Jayhawk starter scored a run in the game, including Dakota Smith and James Stanfield, who combined for four runs without the benefit of a base hit.
DeLeon and freshman Michael Suiter both homered in the eighth inning, marking just the second time this season that KU has homered twice in the same inning. Fellow freshman Connor McKay hit a solo shot in the fourth inning, marking his first round-tripper since March 10 at Minnesota.
ELGIE OUT TWO WEEKS: Head coach Ritch Price announced April 28 that senior 3B Zac Elgie will be out for at least two weeks with a broken finger on his left hand. Elgie sustained the injury while sliding into third base in the seventh inning of Friday's 4-1 loss to Oklahoma.
The news of the injury was especially tough for the Kansas offense as Elgie had started to find his stroke in recent weeks. The senior batted .316 in the month of April with five doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs. He also hit a walk-off homer against Kansas State on April 25.
Kansas faces non-conference foes Air Force and Missouri State at home this weekend. The Jayhawks are 118-20 in non-conference home games under head coach Ritch Price, including 52-8 since 2008.
The Jayhawks conclude the non-conference portion of their schedule with the Jayhawk Classic and are 14-14 against in non-league games this year.
KU is 10-11 against current members of the Mountain West Conference and 63-88 against Missouri Valley Conference teams.
After traveling nearly 10,000 miles for road games this season, KU will play all nine of its remaining regular season games in the state of Kansas, with six home games and three games in Manhattan, Kan., against K-State.
The Jayhawks rank third in the Big 12 and heading into the week, ranked 17th among NCAA Division I schools with a .976 fielding percentage. KU has committed one error or less in 36 of its 45 games.
KU also ranked 72nd in the country in sacrifices (41) prior to Tuesday's game at UALR.
Individually, sophomore IF Ka'iana Eldredge ranks 66th in the country in sacrfices per game (0.25) and 95th in sacrfices bunts (nine). Sophomore RHP Frank Duncan ranks 34th in the country in strikeouts (76), 67th in strikeouts per nine innings (6.88) and 85th in WHIP (1.08).
Kansas senior 3B Zac Elgie hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning to knock off Sunflower Showdown rival Kansas State on April 25. It was the first walk-off homer by a Jayhawk since March 31, 2009, when Nick Faunce hit a game-winning round-tripper against Northern Colorado.
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 33 stolen bases this season. The Jayhawks have also caught 22-of-55 attempted base stealers (40 percent).
KU's outfielders have recorded 16 assists this season after collecting 13 all of last season. Freshman Connor McKay leads the team with five assists, while sophomore Tucker Tharp and freshman Michael Suiter have thrown out four 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 .516 winning percentage (533 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.
Junior C Alex DeLeon has been KU's best hitter with two outs. The third-year backstop is batting .375 (15-for-40) with two outs in an inning and leads the team with 14 two-out RBIs.
Senior C James Stanfield is tied for second on the team with nine multi-hit games, with four of them coming against Big 12 competition.
Redshirt junior 1B Jake Marasco has dominated left-handed pitching all season. The junior is batting .441 (15-for-34) against southpaws this year.
Sophomore 2B Ka'iana Eldredge has reached base at a .333 clip in his 12 starts at home, compared to a .264 clip on the road.
Junior IF Jordan Dreiling is 8-for-17 in his last 10 games and has scored nine runs in that time. He is also reaching base at a .633 mark, drawing 10 walks in his last 31 plate appearances.
Junior SS Kevin Kuntz has been swinging a hot bat recently, going 14-for-38 (.368) in his last 10 games, which includes a .467 on-base percentage in that time.
Freshman IF Justin Protacio collected two hits and recorded two stolen bases in Tuesday's win at UALR. It marked the first multi-hit game of Protacio's career and just the second multi-steal game by a Jayhawk this season.
Freshman OF Connor McKay has 18 of his 19 RBIs this season against non-conference competition, while all five of his home runs have also come in non-Big 12 games.
Freshman OF Michael Suiter recorded a career-best five RBIs in Tuesday's win at UALR. It marked the freshman's second multi-RBI game of the season.
Sophomore OF Tucker Tharp recorded his second four-hit game of the season on April 25 and has eight multi-hit games this year, with six of them in the month of April.
Freshman OF Dakota Smith drew three walks in Tuesday's game at UALR, which nearly doubled his season total. Smith had just four walks in his previous 27 games.
Sophomore RHP Frank Duncan ranks among the top 10 in the Big 12 in a handful of categories. Duncan is fifth in the league in strikeouts (76), third in innings pitched (83 2/3) and fourth in opponents' batting average (.210).
Redshirt senior RHP Jordan Jakubov picked up his first win in Tuesday's game at UALR. Jakubov pitched two quality innings of relief, allowing just one run, to earn the victory.
Junior Jordan Luvisi earned his first victory in a Kansas uniform on April 25 against Kansas State, retiring the only two men he faced to end the top of the 11th. After a disasterous start to the season, Luvisi has allowed just three runs in his last seven appearances.
Freshman RHP Drew Morovick has been extremely effective against leadoff men. In the 33 innings that the first-year righty has started, he has allowed just six men to reach base (.182).
Junior RHP Thomas Taylor has pitched really well at home this season. Taylor is 2-0 at Hoglund Ballpark with a 1.98 ERA in his two home starts.
Freshman RHP Colin Toalson has turned a corner. After taking the loss at Creighton on April 3, Toalson has made six scoreless appearances and allowed just one run in his last 7 1/3 innings on the mound.
UP NEXT: The Jayhawks head to Manhattan, Kan., for the team's final road series of the 2012 season. KU will face Sunflower Showdown rival Kansas State in a three-game set, beginning Friday, May 11 at 6:30 p.m. KU leads K-State by 1 1/2 games in the race for the eighth and final spot in the Big 12 Baseball Championship.