Kansas took both games of its doubleheader with Chicago State yesterday at Hoglund. The Hawks had to work hard for the first win. CSU freshman starter James Tucker (1-10) kept the Cougars in the game through seven innings. Tucker accounted for himself well, throwing 109 pitches over 6.2 innings. His hard work, combined with some timely hitting, jittery KU defense, and another off-performance by KU starter Cameron Selik, left the game in doubt until the final innings. Tucker was pulled a few outs after Zac Elgie’s second homerun of the season gave KU its first lead of the day at 6-5. The Kansas offense jumped on the CSU bullpen and scored five runs in the eighth inning leadng to a final score of 11-5. Brett Bochy (5-0) got the win with a light’s out performance. Bochy pitched the final five innings giving up only two hits and no runs. He set a career high with 9 strikeouts.
The second game was less competitive. Kansas scored steadily, putting up runs in every inning from the 2nd through the 7th, while building a 9-0 lead. Brett Bollman (5-0) gave KU another strong outing, going six shutout innings for the win. Bollman only used 76 pitches in the start, giving up four hits, no walks and striking out a career high eight. David Narodowski led the home offense by driving in four runs, including the first two in the bottom of the second. Buck Afenir hit his sixth homerun of the year, a shot to dead center that just barely cleared the fence. It was Buck’s 27th career homerun, which ties him for 5th place overall in team history.
Kansas improved to 31-15 while Chicago State fell to 3-35. Despite the two wins KU’s RPI actually fell from #61 to #67 due to CSU’s poor overall record. This is one of the flaws in the RPI formula. Games played against low rated teams are discouraged because they act as lose-lose situations within the system. Teams like Kansas cannot work around this quirk because their geographic location makes it very difficult to attract higher rated teams to play in Lawrence. Kansas can only schedule a limited number of away games each semester so the team has to get as much out of the road contests as possible, RPI wise, to compensate for the weaker home schedule. Even though KU plays one of the most difficult out-of-conference road schedules in the nation the team cannot fully overcome the geographic disadvantages that come from playing in Kansas.
After the jump additional game notes and links to the KU recaps and box scores.
Game One: Kansas 11 – Chicago State 5
Chicago State jumped all over KU starter Cameron Selik to build a 4-0 lead through two and a half innings. Selik faced 20 batters through four innings, giving up five singles, two doubles, two sacrifce bunts, a walk and a hit batter. His outing was not helped by three throwing errors during those same four innings by backup catcher Joe Lincoln. Price went to Brett Bochy to start the fifth inning and the score tied 5-5. Of the 19 batters Bochy faced he only gave up a walk and two singles. The only base runner the Cougars had over the final three innings was due to a fielding error on Tony Thompson. Given what Chicago State accomplished over the 14 innings following Selik’s start I have to think that the bulk of their production was probably more due to Selik being “off” than the Cougars being “on.”
CSU starter James Tucker worked in the 70’s most of the game but kept the KU hitters off balance. Kansas started their comeback in the bottom of the third. Trailing 4-0 Kansas opened the inning with a Jason Brunansky walk and a David Narodowski double, one of three the KU shortstop would hit in the game. James Stanfield opened the bleeding with a ground single to left which brought home the first KU run. Brian Heere hit the first pitch he saw in the next at-bat into right field for a double and KU was within 4-2 with no outs. Stanfield made a base running error the next at bat. Zac Elgie hit a tapper back to the pitcher and Stanfield was out easily at the plate on the fielder’s choice. It looked like Tucker might get out of the inning when he got the next batter, Thompson, to hit into a 1-3 put out. With runners at second and third Joe Lincoln chopped a two out double over the third base bag to tie the score.
CSU went back on to in the top of the fourth on a manufactured run which Kansas responded to in the bottom of the frame when Stanfield hit a sac fly to deep left which plated Greg Herbst. The score rested at 5-5 until the bottom of the seventh when Zac Elgie hit his second homerun of the year, a line drive to left. With Bochy in complete control of the CSU lineup the Hawks wore down Tucker and then rampaged through the visitor’s bullpen late.
Joe Lincoln commits three errors: CSU obviously came to town with a running strategy. The Cougars were very aggressive on the base pads and Lincoln’s attempts at control ended up just fueling the fire. CSU stole three bases on Lincoln and forced him into three throwing errors that directly led to at least two of their five runs. In the 3rd inning Michael Carpen stole second base on a hit and run and Lincoln’s throw went into center to allow him to advance to third. Later that inning Lincoln attempted to pick Patrick Hernandez off third base with two outs but Thompson was unable to corral his low throw and instead Hernandez came home on the error. Lincoln’s final error came in the fourth. Austin McDowell stole third with two outs and again Lincoln put his throw in the dirt allowing McFarland to cross the plate. Price inserted Buck Afenir and Robby Price as defensive replacements in the 8th inning. This strategy paid quick dividends. Robby made a great play in the 8th inning on a ground ball to his right, and Buck foiled McDowell’s attempt to bunt his way on in the ninth with a great throw to first.
Brett Bochy establishes career highs: Brett’s five innings of work were a new career high. The longest he had pitched in any of his previous 33 games was three innings. Bochy’s nine strikeouts were also a new high for him, two more than the seven he recorded in March at Texas A&M. Bochy now has 45 Ks in 27.2 innings, a rate of 14.6 per 9 innings.
Game Two: Kansas 9 – Chicago State 1
Brett Bollman (5-0) simply overmatched the CSU lineup in game two. Bollman cruised through six innings of work, facing only three batters over the minimum and deposing of batters at a rate of one out for every 4.2 pitches. CSU only had one runner even get into scoring position during Bollman’s outing. Bollman punched out eight batters, a new career high.
The Kansas runs came in slowly and steadily throughout the game. David Nardowski capped a great overall offensive day by going 2-3 with a walk and four RBI’s. Buck Afenir went 2-5 with a solo homerun. Jimmy Waters went 1-3 with a double and an RBI. Preston Land was on base all four times he came to the plate, two walks, an error and a triple. Land’s triple kept a streak alive. In each of his four years Preston has managed to hit one three-bagger. Tony Thompson only went 2-7 over the double header and failed once more to drive in a run but the third baseman did score four of KU’s 20 runs. Casey Lytle went 1-3 with a walk and made a nice ranging play in the fifth inning to rob Albert Carpen of a double.
Kevin Burk and Paul Smyth each pitched a scoreless inning out of the bullpen. Thomas Marcin closed out the game in ugly fashion. Marcin walked the first two men he faced but looked like he would escape the inning without damage when he induced a double play grounder out of CSU’s best hitter, Patrick Hernandez. Unfortunately Marcin allowed the Cougars to break up the shut-out with two outs in the ninth by uncorking a wild pitch which allowed Jeremy Perez to score from third.
Robby Price fine: Robby Price played the final two innings of the first game and started the second game, so apparently his injury on Sunday was not serious. Robby went 1-3 on the day with a walk and two RBI’s.