Jayhawks-Wildcats Face Off in Manhattan This Weekend
May 9, 2012
LEADING OFF: Kansas baseball meets Sunflower Showdown rival Kansas State for a three-game Big 12 series this weekend, in a likely battle for the eighth and final spot in the conference tournament. KU leads K-State by 1 1/2 games for eighth place in the Big 12 standings with six games remaining on the schedule. The in-state rivals will battle at 6:30 p.m., Friday-Sunday at Tointon Family Stadium in Manhattan.
ON THE AIR: Fans unable to attend the weekend's games in Manhattan will have several options to follow the action. Both Friday night and Sunday evening's games will be televised statewide. Friday's contest will be broadcast by Cox 22 as well as Metro Sports, while Sunday's game will appear on Fox College Sports. Audio from all three games will be available on KLWN (1320 AM) as well as on AT&T Jayhawk All-Access at kuathletics.com.
SERIES HISTORY: Friday night's contest will mark the 344th all-time meeting between the schools on the baseball diamond. In a series that dates back to 1898, the Jayhawks have the upperhand, 177-165-1. However, K-State is 90-70 against KU in Manhattan with one tie. The Jayhawks won a non-conference meeting with the Wildcats on April 25 to snap a five-game losing streak to K-State.
ABOUT THE JAYHAWKS: Kansas dropped the final two games of the Jayhawk Classic. However, prior to the May 5 loss to Air Force, KU had won two in a row and seven of its last 11. The Jayhawks are 19-29 overall, 5-14 on the road and 2-2 in the month of May.
KU's offense averages 4.4 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 .310 batting average and a team-best .470 on-base percentage in 27 starts. On the mound, KU has a 4.38 ERA, which ranks eighth in the conference, and has held opponents to a .270 batting average. Sophomore RHP Frank Duncan is the ace of the pitching staff, posting a 3.14 ERA with a 5-6 record and 85 strikeouts in 91 2/3 innings this year.
PLAYOFF PUSH: Kansas will look to solidify its hold on the eighth and final spot in the Big 12 Championship this weekend. The Jayhawks lead ninth-place K-State by 1 1/2 games with six conference games remaining. A KU series win would reduce its magic number to one, while a series sweep would guarantee the Jayhawks a spot in the Big 12 Championship in Oklahoma City.
SCOUTING THE WILDCATS: Kansas State heads into the penultimate weekend of the regular season with a record of 22-27 after sweeping a non-conference series from Nebraska-Omaha last weekend. The Wildcats are 3-15 in Big 12 play, having dropped 10 straight conference games dating back to March 31. K-State was 14-12 on the last day of March, but went 5-14 during the month of April.
Kansas State's offense averages 6.1 runs per game and is batting .283, which ranks fourth in the Big 12. Sophomore OF Jared King ranks among the league leaders in several offensive categories, batting .376 with 12 doubles, 40 RBIs and a .554 slugging percentage. Senior 1B Wade Hinkle is tied for the conference lead with nine homers and is batting .325 with a team-high 45 RBIsand a .476 on-base percentage.
The Wildcats' pitching staff has posted a 5.50 ERA, which ranks ninth in the Big 12, while opponents are batting .296 against them. Senior RHP Kayvon Bahramzadeh is the staff ace with a 5-3 record and a 4.99 ERA and 64 strikeouts in 61 1/3 innings this season. Saturday starter LHP Joe Flattery is also 5-3 with a 4.80 ERA and has 44 K's in 60 innings. However, both pitchers are winless in Big 12 games.
Kansas State head coach Brad Hill is in his ninth season with the Wildcats and has a record of 288-220-3 at the school and is 706-311-3 overall at the NCAA level after nine years at Division II Central Missouri State. Hill has led the `Cats to three-straight NCAA regionals in each of the last three seasons.
LAST TIME OUT: Missouri State scored three unearned runs in the top of the 11th inning Sunday as the Bears completed a perfect weekend at the Jayhawk Classic with a 6-3 victory over Kansas at Hoglund Ballpark.
DUNCAN DELIVERS: Heading into the 2012 season, one of the biggest questions facing Kansas was who would lead a rebuilt starting rotation. It didn't take long for head coach Ritch Price to find his answer. Sophomore RHP Frank Duncan has been the team's ace throughout the year, posting a team-best 3.14 ERA and five wins. The second-year righty ranks in the top 10 in the Big 12 in several categories, including: third in innings pitched (91.2), fourth in opponent batting average (.210) and fifth in strikeouts (85).
Duncan's 85 strikeouts are tied for 17th most in team history. With at least two starts remaining in 2012, the sophomore is looking to become just the fifth Jayhawk to record 100 strikeouts in a season. The last KU pitcher to accomplish this was Mike Zagurski, who fanned a program-best 112 hitters in 2005.
NIGHT AND DE: Junior C/DH Alex DeLeon got things going offensively last week, going 8-for-16 with a pair of homers and five RBIs in four non-conference games. It was a welcome return to form for DeLeon, who had slumped the last few weeks of April. Through his first 15 games of the season, DeLeon hit .353 (18-for-51) with seven multi-hit games. However, during the month of April, the junior hit just .184 (9-for-49) with one extra base hit.
He showed signs of breaking out during the first week of May, collecting three extra-base hits and three multi-hit games. He also hit in the clutch, going 3-for-5 with runners in scoring position and 4-for-6 with two outs in the inning. DeLeon currently leads the team with 15 two-out RBIs.
MR. CONSISTENT: Senior C James Stanfield leads the Jayhawks with a .327 batting average (16-for-49) in Big 12 games, which ranks 14th in the conference. Stanfield has been extremely consistent, collecting base hits in 10 of his 12 starts in Big 12 play with four multi-hit games. He has also drawn three of his eight walks in league games for a .377 on-base percentage.
• After traveling over 10,000 miles for road games this season, KU will play all six of its remaining regular season games in the state of Kansas, with three home games and three games in Manhattan, Kan., against K-State.
• The Jayhawks rank third in the Big 12 and heading into the week and are 23rd among NCAA Division I schools with a .976 fielding percentage. KU has committed one error or less in 38 of its 48 games.
• KU also ranks 80th in the country in walks (185) and 89th in sacrifice bunts (42).
• Individually, sophomore IF Ka'iana Eldredge ranks 84th in the country in sacrfices per game (0.24), fellow middle infielder Kevin Kuntz is 80th with 10 sacrifice bunts. Sophomore RHP Frank Duncan ranks 24th in the country in strikeouts (85), 64th in hits allowed per nine innings (6.87) and 88th in WHIP (1.08).
• KU has allowed just 40 stolen bases this season. The Jayhawks have also caught 23-of-63 attempted base stealers (36.5 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 scored a season-high 16 runs and hit a season-best three home runs in the May 1 win at UALR. Every KU starter scored at least one run in the game, while six of the team's runs were scored with two outs in the inning.
• 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.
• 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 (535 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 .395 (17-for-43) with two outs in an inning and leads the team with 15 two-out RBIs.
• Senior C James Stanfield has tossed out 13-of-39 (.333) attempted base stealers. His 13 base runners caught stealing are tied for second most in the Big 12.
• Redshirt junior 1B Jake Marasco has dominated left-handed pitching all season. The junior is batting .395 (15-for-38) against southpaws this year.
• Senior 1B/DH Chris Manship recorded his ninth multi-hit game of the year Sunday against Missouri State. Of Manship's nine multi-hit games, seven of them have come on the road.
• Sophomore 2B Ka'iana Eldredge is looking for a repeat of last May. During the final month of the 2011 season, Eldredge hit .356 with six doubles and a home run.
• Junior IF Jordan Dreiling is 11-for-27 (.407) in his last 10 games with 11 runs scored in that time frame. Dreiling has also walked 13 times in his last 44 plate appearances for a .581 on-base percentage.
• Junior SS Kevin Kuntz is batting .381 (8-for-21) with runners in scoring position in road games. The junior has six of his 11 two-out RBIs on the road this year.
• Freshman IF Justin Protacio collected two hits and recorded two stolen bases in the May 1 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 hit safely in six of his last eight starts, including a two-hit game at UALR on May 1.
• Freshman OF Michael Suiter is 3-for-10 in the month of May with a double, a home run and five RBIs.
• Sophomore OF Tucker Tharp is 4-for-7 (.571) in his career against K-State, including a 4-for-6 game against the Wildcats earlier this year. Tharp led off that game on April 25 with a home run.
• Freshman OF Dakota Smith collected his seventh double of the season in Sunday's loss to Missouri State. Smith's seven two-base hits rank second on the team and are just five shy of the KU record by a freshman.
• Freshman LHP Wes Benjamin has had problems with the third inning this season. The first year lefty has an ERA of 8.25 in the third inning this year (11 ER in 12 IP) and an ERA of 3.47 (23 ER in 59 2/3 IP) in all other innings.
• Sophomore RHP Frank Duncan has allowed a .210 batting average, which is on pace to be the second-lowest single-season total in KU history. Only Don Czyz's .206 batting average against in 2006 was lower among KU hurlers with at least 40 innings pitched.
• Redshirt senior RHP Jordan Jakubov picked up his first win in the May 1 game at UALR. Jakubov pitched two quality innings of relief, allowing just one run, to earn the victory.
• Senior RHP Matt Kohorst has made five scoreless appearances this year in six games on the mound. Kohorst has also struck out seven in 7 2/3 innings pitched.
• Junior LHP 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.
• Freshman RHP Drew Morovick has been extremely effective against leadoff men. In the 34 innings that the first-year righty has started, he has allowed just six men to reach base (.176).
• Redshirt Junior RHP Thomas Taylor has been very good at closing innings. KU's Sunday starter has held opponents to a .217 batting average (18-for-83) with two outs in an inning.
• Freshman RHP Colin Toalson has turned a corner. After taking the loss at Creighton on April 3, Toalson has made seven scoreless appearances and allowed just one run in his last 7 1/3 innings on the mound.
• Kansas State and Kansas have a combined 20 natives of the Sunflower State on their rosters.
• 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 an assistant coach at KU for two years, 2009-10.
UP NEXT: Kansas will close the 2012 regular season with a three-game home series against Border Showdown rival Missouri, beginning Thursday, May 17 at 6 p.m. The Jayhawks and Tigers will be meeting for the final three times as Big 12 rivals in a series which could determine the postseason fate for both schools.