KU Baseball completed a season opening road trip with a 4-2 record. The Hawks lost the first and the last games. On opening day they were handcuffed by Eastern Michigan’s ace Cory Chaffins, who limited the team to three hits in a 3-1 loss. Yesterday the Kansas pitching staff imploded by issuing 14 walks to a very strong Arkansas team. The Hogs buried the Hawks by a score of 15-3. In between these losses the Hawks rolled off four impressive wins against EMU, Sacramento State and Gonzaga. KU opened the season ranked #25. If they take care of business this weekend they should keep that ranking.
KU’s home opener will be Friday at 3PM. Iowa will be in Lawrence for a four game weekend series. Friday is dollar day, so come on down to the Hog, feel a bit of sun, eat a few dogs, and cheer on Hawks. The two teams play a double header on Saturday starting at noon, and wrap up the weekend with a 1PM Sunday game.
The weekend schedule was altered due to the threat of rain late Saturday. The teams will play the double header now on Friday, first pitch at 1PM, and single games on Saturday and Sunday. See comment below for more information.
Kansas will have to get through the first month or so of the season missing two stars. Tony Thompson, who last year became the first Big-12 triple-crown winner, will not be back in the line up for at least a few more weeks. Starting pitcher Lee Ridenhour is also out for the first part of the season. On the positive side, Kansas has Wally Marciel back on the mound. Marciel was phenomenal three years ago as a freshman but missed over a year after surgery. Jordan Jakubov and Thomas Taylor both made their collegiate debuts during the just completed road trip. Both pitchers sat out last year with injuries. I know Marciel can be a real force on the mound, and for years I have been hearing how good Jakubov and Taylor will be once they get healthy. The pitching staff looks to have the arms in place. Coach Price thinks this is his best pitching staff since he arrived at KU. Cameron Selik, T.J. Walz and Brett Bollman (the team’s current weekend rotation) all pitched well in their first games. Tanner Poppe, a very highly touted recruit, has already appeared in two games as a true freshman. If Poppe develops, Marciel, Jakubov and Taylor all come back well from their injuries, and Ridenhour rejoins the staff, Kansas might have one of the best pitching staffs in the nation by tournament time.
A few more notes of optimism before closing. Since being moved into the clean-up slot during Thompson’s absence Junior Jimmy Waters has been on fire. Waters went .375/.600/.625 during the road trip with a homerun and eight RBIs. Brett Lisher (1B), Chris Manship (C) and Jason Brunansky (OF) are all off to surprisingly hot starts. As a team the Hawks are under-performing at the plate, (.263/.354/.392, 5.8 runs/gm) but given how little outdoors practice time they had before diving into game action this early rust can be expected.