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Baseball: KU (11-8) vs. Penn State (2-8)

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The Nittany Lions come to Lawrence for a single game this evening vs. the Jayhawks.  First pitch 5:00PM.

Penn State does not look to have a very strong team on paper, yet surprisingly they are pretty well thought of by the computers.  Despite their 2-8 record their RPI ranking is a very healthy #60.  Full Penn State statistics here.

Probable Starting Pitchers
KU: Andres Esquibel (2-0, 1.40 ERA) vs.
PSU: Seth Whitehill (0-2, 6.92 ERA)
This will be the first meeting ever between these two schools

PSU in a nutshell
Last year PSU went 20-36 (8-19 in the Big-10).  Lost off that team were their top two hitters and their pitching ace.  PSU has played a demanding early schedule, as reflected by their record.  On the year they are 0-2 vs. Kansas State, 1-2 vs. North Carolina, 1-1 vs. Centenary and, most recently, they were swept in three games vs. Wichita State.

PSU's starter today, Whitehill, has not looked good so far this year.  In 13 innings he has given up 15 hits and 10 walks, while only striking out two batters.  He was more effective in 2006 (2-3, 3.33 ERA, 48.2 Innings, 47 hits, 13/36 BB/K) but it should be kept in mind that Big-10 baseball is not on the same level as Big-12 play.  Whitehill probably is not as bad as his current numbers might lead you to believe, and the team's overall ERA is 3.74, so they have a few effective arms in their bullpen.  KU should score but I doubt it will get out-of-hand.

PSU has a few players hitting well but overall they are a poor offensive team.  Their overall batting line is .234 / .281 / .287.  A team OPS of .568.  They have only hit 13 extra base hits (3 HR's) in their first 10 games.  The Nittnay Lions tend to swing wild (88 K's) and walk infrequently (26 BB).  They also appear to dread being hit by the pitched ball.  For what it is worth KU batters have accepted contact 30 times, while PSU players have only been hit three times.

So it all looks good for KU.  Maybe I'm missing something here.  I can't see why this team has such a low RPI rating.  Let's hope I'm right and not the computers.