LAWRENCE, Kan. – After a convincing win at Creighton during midweek action, 11-0, the Kansas baseball team returns to Hoglund Ballpark to open its Big 12 Conference home slate versus Oklahoma in a three-game series, Friday, March 28 - Sunday, March 30. Friday night's contest is set for a 6 p.m. start, with Saturday's game to begin at 2 p.m. The finale on Sunday is scheduled for 1 p.m.
The Jayhawks (17-8, 2-1 Big 12) boasted a dominating performance over Creighton in midweek action Wednesday, March 26, blanking the Bluejays 11-0 for the four-hit shutout.
The three-game series can be seen on ESPN3, accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app, through ESPN on Xbox Live to Gold Members and on Apple TV. Sunday's contest will be broadcast throughout the state of Kansas on the Jayhawk Television Network and will be blacked out on ESPN3 throughout the state. Nate Bukaty (Friday) and Steven Davis (Saturday and Sunday) will handle the play-by-play with former KU baseball players Scott Heitshusen (Friday and Saturday) and Travis Blankenship (Sunday). Visit KUAthletics.com/TV for more information on affiliates.
All three games can be heard on Jayhawk Digital Passport through KUAthletics.com/Showcase with Tom Hedrick and Sean Kellerman calling the action. Subscription prices are as follows: $2.95/day, $6.95/month or $49.95/year.
After a convincing win against Creighton Wednesday, March 26, 11-0, in which the KU baseball team tied the TD Ameritrade Park record for most hits in a game (16) by any team, including the College World Series, the Jayhawks find themselves back leading the conference in batting average (.306), RBIs (162) and fewest strikeouts (112).
The 11-0 win over the Bluejays marks the first midweek victory for Kansas this season, after starting out 0-3 in games during the week.
That win also snapped a four-game losing streak by KU that spanned the last four seasons.
Junior Connor McKay continues to be the anchor of the KU offense, as he ranks third nationally and first in the Big 12 with 34 RBIs and tied for second in the conference with five home runs.
SERIES HISTORY: According to the Kansas archives, Oklahoma leads the all-time series 144-88-1, with the first meeting between the two squads in 1906. The two teams last met in the 2013 Big 12 Baseball Championship (May 26), with the Sooners taking the 7-2 victory. Since 2010, Oklahoma holds a 12-1 advantage over the Jayhawks, with KU's only win coming March 30, 2013 in Norman, 10-8.
SCOUTING REPORT: The Sooners are coming off a series win against Kansas State, before dropping a midweek contest to Oral Roberts, 3-0. As a team, OU is batting .300 (3rd in Big 12) and leads the conference in runs scored (181). Junior catcher Mac James leads the Oklahoma offense, batting .429 with 10 doubles, three home runs, 22 RBIs and 20 runs scored. Sophomore outfielder Hunter Haley (.340), sophomore catcher Anthony Hermelyn (.327) and freshman infielder Sheldon Neuse (.301) are the only other Sooners batting over .300, with Haley leading the team in home runs (5) runs scored (27) and RBIs (24).
The Jayhawks will see sophomore righty Corey Copping, sophomore left-hander Adam Choplick and freshman hurler Jake Elliot in that order on the weekend. In six starts, Elliott holds a 3.57 ERA and a 2-3 record. He has allowed 30 hits and 20 runs in 35 and one-third innings pitched. Chaplick leads the staff with 31 strikeouts in 34 and one-third innings of work, giving up 14 runs off 36 hits for a 3.67 ERA. Copping is the only starter with a perfect record (2-0), tossing just 22 innings on the season with a 4.09 ERA.
LAST TIME OUT: Three pitchers combined to throw a four-hit shutout as Kansas won its first midweek game of the season against Creighton, 11-0, at TD Ameritrade Park (March 26). The Jayhawks combined for 16 hits on the night, tying the stadium record for most hits in a game by any team in TD Ameritrade Park history, including the College World Series. In addition, KU recorded its third shutout on the season and the first for Creighton since May 4, 2013, when the Bluejays were blanked 6-0 at Illinois State.
AROUND THE HORN:
Junior righty Drew Morovick tossed five and two-thirds scoreless innings against Creighton for his fifth win of the season, allowing three hits and four walks while striking out two.
Freshman side-armer Stephen Villines threw two and one-third innings of relief against the Bluejays, allowing just one hit and recording two strikeouts.
Junior shortstop Justin Protacio took a free pass against Creighton to extend his reached base safely streak to 35 games, dating back to 2013.
Sophomore second baseman Colby Wright chalked up a 2-for-5 effort at the plate against the Bluejays, raising his average to .314 on the season.
Junior left fielder Michael Suiter boasted his 10th multi-hit game on the season against CU, batting 2-for-5 with two RBIs.
Junior designated hitter Dakota Smith had his third three-hit game of the season, driving in a run and scoring three times against Creighton.
Senior centerfielder Tucker Tharp tallied three hits against the Bluejays, including a double and three runs scored.
Junior third baseman Aaron Hernandez continued his hot bat with a two-hit performance against CU, driving in two runs before scoring once.
Junior right fielder Connor McKay tallied five hits and five RBIs against the Big Green over the weekend, pushing his Big 12-leading total to 34 RBIs, seven more than anyone else in the league. In addition, his RBI total ranks second in the nation, while he ranks tied for second in the Big 12 in home runs (5), fourth in the in total bases (53) and sixth in slugging percentage (.570).
Junior left fielder Michael Suiter led all hitters with a .538 average on the weekend against Dartmouth, hitting three doubles, driving in three runs and scoring four times. His 26 runs scored on the year ranks second in the Big 12.
Junior designated hitter Dakota Smith boasted a career-high five RBIs against DC (March 22), capped off by a one-out grand slam in the sixth inning. That was the first home run for Smith since March 3, 2013. On the weekend, he batted .500 (6-for-12) with a double, a triple, a home run, a walk, eight RBIs and three runs scored for a 1.000 slugging percentage.
Junior first baseman Blair Beck got his first series start of the season, starting all three contests against the Big Green, where he tallied four hits for three RBIs and a run scored.
Also starting all three games of a weekend series for the first time this season, sophomore second baseman Colby Wright batted .308 (4-for-13) with a double, an RBI and six runs scored.
Junior third baseman Aaron Hernandez got his bat going again with a 6-for-12 (.500) performance at the plate, including two doubles, a triple, an RBI and three runs scored.
·Senior right hander Frank Duncan tossed five scoreless innings against Dartmouth (March 23), allowing just two runs off nine hits and a walk, while striking out seven batters. Those seven strikeouts move his career total to 228 and into fourth all-time in KU history.
Seventeen of Connor McKay's 34 RBIs have come with two outs and he is second on the team with a .400 two-out batting average as a regular in the KU lineup.
Kansas holds a .355 average with runners on base this season, tallying 167 hits in 470 at bats. Against Dartmouth, the Jayhawks batted .422 with runners on base and .324 with two outs. The team also recorded 10 two-out RBIs.
Frank Duncan's 41 strikeouts ranks him tied for second in the Big 12, sitting 24 behind conference leader Brandon Finnegan (65) of TCU.
Both Frank Duncan and Wes Benjamin rank atop the conference leaderboard for innings pitched, as Duncan ranks first with 45.1 innings, while Benjamin ranks fifth with 40.0 innings.
Frank Duncan also leads the Big 12 in most complete games (2).
ONE FOR THE BOOKS: Kansas tallied 16 hits against Creighton at TD Ameritrade Park en route to a convincing 11-0 win against the Bluejays. The 16 hits tied the stadium record for most hits in a game by any team, including games played in the College World Series. The 11 runs scored were the most given up by Creighton all season and the goose egg in the CU run column was the first for them since the team was shutout at Illinois State, 6-0, May 4, 2013.
YAHTZEE: Junior designated hitter Dakota Smith and senior centerfielder Tucker Tharp accomplished a feat Saturday (March 22) that hadn't been done since March 8, 2009, hitting back-to-back home runs in a game. Smith's bombski was a one-out grand slam over the fence in right center in the sixth inning, with Tharp following with a solo shot over the left field wall. The last tandem to accomplish this feat was Buck Afenir and Tony Thompson against Northwestern.
ALL FOR ONE: Nine different players combined for a season-high 19 hits and 13 RBIs against Dartmouth (March 21) with six different Jayhawks tallying multiple-hit efforts. Junior right fielder Connor McKay boasted a 3-for-5 performance at the plate, including a double, home run, four RBIs and a runs scored. Sophomore second baseman Colby Wright (3-for-5), junior designated hitter Dakota Smith (3-for-5) and junior third baseman Aaron Hernandez (3-for-4) also had three hits apiece and at least two runs scored, with Wright scoring three times. Junior shortstop Justin Protacio and junior left fielder Michael Suiter rounded out the last two KU players with multiple hits on the night, as Protacio batted 2-for-5 with two RBIs and two runs scored while Suiter hit 2-for-4 with a double, an RBI and two runs scored.
ALL ABOUT CLASS: Kansas baseball's senior closer and the 2013 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year, was named one of 30 candidates to be considered for the 2014 Senior CLASS Award in collegiate baseball, as announced by the committee March 19. Piche' is one of three Big 12 baseball players to appear on the list of 30. Joining him on the list from the conference are Ross Kivett (Kansas State) and Mark Payton (Texas). The prestigious award selects senior student-athletes based on the following categories: community, classroom, character and competition.
UP NEXT: Kansas plays host to in-state rival Wichita State, Tuesday, April 1 at 6 p.m. The game can be seen on ESPN3 outside the state of Kansas and on the Jayhawk Television Network throughout the state.