It was a rough week for the Jayhawks. After completely overwhelming two regional NAIA teams, KU traveled to national power Arkansas with a four game winning streak and momentum. Coach Price found the same number of wins in Fayetteville as he had the last time he took his team on the road to face a high quality opponent. Zero. As in Palo Alto two weeks earlier the Jayhawks were swept and denied their first quality win. On the season KU is 11-1 vs. low rated opponents and 0-7 vs. teams who have a good chance at making the post-season tournament.
Click the "Read More" button below to get the run down on individual performances and player statistics. Right now baseball coverage should to take a second seat to basketball and I don't want a longish story to dominate the site's front page. After all, how often do you get to watch a team on an inevitable march to a national championship?
The series loss to Arkansas cannot really be hung on the starting pitching. Ashwood had an off game, but both Czyz and Marks pitched well enough to win or at least keep the team in the game. Czyz was particularly impressive, going 7+ innings and only allowing three hits and three runs. He has established himself as the staff ace going into Big-12 play next weekend vs. Texas A&M. Given Arkansas' potent line-up the pitching staff held up remarkably well. The losses can be attributed more to Arkansas' ability to keep the Jayhawks off the scoreboard than to anything that went wrong on the mound.
Regarding the weekday games, Marciel pitched fairly well vs. Tabor, but Marcin did not impress in his first collegiate start vs. Baker. Marcin has looked so good coming out of the bullpen that no strong conclusion should be drawn from his off-night on Wednesday. Hopefully he will get back on track quickly. I have added a bit of additional information to the chart this week. Wins and Losses as well as ERA.
|Czyz||2-2||2.60||60,63||55, 50, 58|
The bullpen continued to be a surprising strength of the club. Smyth suffered through his first rough outing on Saturday (although none of the three runs that scored on his watch were counted against his ERA), but otherwise the damage done to the Jayhawks when the game was in the hands of the relief corp was surprisingly small.
The batting numbers were ridiculously inflated by the two nights of batting practice vs. Tabor and Baker. In 15 innings the Jayhawks collected 42 runs, 43 hits, and at least 67 baserunners. After arriving in Fayetteville, the Razorback collection of potential All-American starters quieted the KU lineup down quite a bit, but the Jayhawks did not go down without a fight. Over the three games they collected 24 hits and scored 9 runs. Smallish totals, but considering that all three Arkansas starters have pro-potential this is relatively solid production just the same. The strength of this KU team will be their offense. Throwing out the two NAIA games the Jayhawks are scoring 5.7 runs per game, a maddeningly low figure still. I am sure that number will creep up as the season wears on. There is just too much talent in this line-up.
Brock Simpson continued to swing a hot bat this week and now has his overall numbers pretty well up to the point were his earlier slump has faded into memory. Not only is he hitting well now, he is an RBI machine with 16 in 19 games. Allman looks like he couldn't make an out if he wanted to right now. How is he keeping these numbers up at this level? Is he really this good? The Price brothers seem to be locked in a family batting average battle. Kyle Murphy collected five RBI's vs. Arkansas in the first game of the series. If Buck Afenir keeps hitting like this someone is going to have to give him a nickname, or at least some starts at DH when he is resting his knees from catching duty.
KU has five important games to play in the next seven days.
Tuesday: Penn State (RPI #60) at Hoglund 5PM
Wednesday: Wichita State (RPI #37) at Hoglund 6PM
Friday: @ Texas A&M (RPI #17) 6:30PM. Big-12 Opener
Saturday: ibid, 2:00PM
Sunday: ibid, 1:00PM
KU has already accumulated so many losses early that their chances of making the NCAA tournament field as an at-large is already becoming a long shot. If they are going to turn that situation around they really need to win both weekday games. If not, then what they do in the Big-12 is probably their only path to the post-season. The conference schedule starts on Friday and it starts rough. Traveling to College Park to play A&M will be as tough an assignment as the Jayhawks are likely to be handed this year. To keep the season alive the Jayhawks need to set a goal of at least three wins in the next five games. Let's start counting them off with a win Tuesday night vs. Penn State.
I fully expect KLWN (AM 1320) will be broadcasting all these games but if at all possible get your butt down to Hoglund. The park should have an excellent crowd on Wednesday to greet our hereditary enemy, Wichita State, and I expect a good turn out on Tuesday as well. Last year Hoglund sold out every seat in the house for the Wichita State game so if you want to see the Shockers try to get to the park before the first pitch.
By the way, a sell out at Hoglund is 2,800 people. This weekend in Fayetteville the Jayhawks played in front of crowds of 6469, 6563 and 7774. No one like Arkansas but you gotta hand it to them, that team gets fan support.