Baseball returns this weekend, and all is good in the world again.
KU 0-0 (2007 RPI #138) @ Hawaii-Hilo 1-2 (2007 RPI #286)
Friday, February 22 @ 5PM CST
Saturday, double-header starting @ 2PM
Sunday, double-header starting @ 2PM
Media: Sadly, only Gametracker, which can be accessed here.
Likely Starters (Final 2007 stats)
KU: Wally Marciel (5-3, 3.94), Shaeffer Hall, Nick Czyz (4-8, 4.60), Sam Freeman, Andres Esquibel (7-3, 4.66)
UHH: Clayton Uyechi (2-3, 4.70), Joe Davis (2-7, 7.00), Kekoa Lee & TBA.
KU leads the all-time series 24-7, 24-5 during the Ritch Price era.
UHH in a nutshell
Every year Coach Price takes his team to Hawaii to open the season. While the University of Hawaii boasts a competitive baseball program, the same cannot be said about the University of Hawaii-Hilo in recent years. Last year UHH finished ranked 286 out of 293 teams playing NCAA D-I baseball. UHH got its season underway last week by taking one out of three vs. Hawaii. I listed the three pitchers above that the Vulcans used last weekend as starters. I am afraid I do not have much more information to pass on about the opponent as their website does not yet provide a season preview story. By looking at the Vulcan's stats from last year, it looks like their top two returning pitchers are Clayton Uyechi (51.2 Innings, 4.70ERA, 1.43 Whip, 28/55 BB/K) and Dustin Gilmore (4.22 ERA, 32 Innings, 45 hits, 1.81 Whip, 13/15 BB/K). Michael Higa (2b, Sr) looks to be their top returning position player. Last year he hit .300/.360/.419 in 160 at bats. Alvis Satele (Inf, Sr., .272/.414/.397) and Ronel Trias (So, OF, .330/.433/.398) also put up good numbers last year at the plate. The team is not deep and having to cover 45 innings in one weekend probably will leave the UHH pitching staff pretty abused.
While these games count, it might not be too much of a stretch to see this series as a very abbreviated version of Spring Training for the Jayhawks. Five games in three days will allow Coach Price to work most of his roster into live action. KU has a very good chance of sweeping. As long as the Hawks leave the island with at least four wins and the roster a bit more warmed up all will be well.
At least initially Coach Price has settled on a five man rotation that includes two newcomers. Holdovers Wally Marciel (So), Nick Czyz (Jr) and Andres Esquibel (Sr) will be joined by Sophomore transfer Shaeffer Hall and Junior transfer Sam Freeman.
I will update results over the weekend. After leaving Hawaii the Jayhawks will quickly face a series of much sterner tests. The schedule for the following week:
Wed. 2/27 @ Arkansas
Fri. 2/29 @ (#3) Vanderbilt
Sat. 3/1 vs. Xavier
Sun 3/2 vs. Iowa
The home opener for the Jayhawks is scheduled for Wednesday, March 5th at 3PM. Let's cross our fingers and hope the weather cooperates. If the Jayhawks return to Lawrence sporting a 7-2 record we will have good reason for hope this year.
I spoke with KU radio announcer Tom Hedrick at the media day press conference this week and learned that he will be calling an audio web-cast for all games next week. Just check back here for link information. Tom is a truly great announcer and KU is lucky to have him. These web casts are a welcome new feature this year, meant to help bridge the media gap the team has had to navigate in past Februarys and Marches. Understandably KLWN remains focused on basketball during the closing days of winter.