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Baseball: KU hosts Tabor, travels to Missouri State

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Kansas Jayhawks (8-5) vs. Tabor College (5-11) and Missouri State (8-2)

The KU baseball team concludes its homestand this afternoon with a 3PM game against Tabor.  Tabor is a NAIA school so the game will not count towards KU's RPI ranking nor be a factor in its NCAA resume, however it will be about 60 degrees this afternoon and sunny, and where would you rather be than at the ballpark?

In the past Ritch Price has used games against local NAIA programs as opportunities to keep his bench players sharp.  Most likely KU will start the game with a standard line-up and then start inserting back-ups around the third or fourth inning.  A quick look at Tabor's season statistics reveals that they hit well (.309 team batting average.  Scoring 6.4 runs per game) but their pitching staff has not held up (Opponents hitting .363).  Chris Brown enters the game batting .345 with 3 homeruns and 17 RBIs.  KU will send Hiarali Garcia to the mound for the first few innings of the game. Tabor will start Andrew Cook.

Tabor has a 5-11 record.  KU is 8-5 and on a six game winning streak.

This will be the last home game for the Jayhawks until Tuesday, March 25th.  They hit the road on Wednesday for a game against always tough Missouri State (4PM).  This weekend the Jayhawks will open their Big-12 season by playing three in Austin.

Missouri State has an 8-2 record at this time.  Click here for Bear season staticis.  The Jayhawks and the Bears have developed a pretty good baseball rivalry. Missouri State leds the all-time series 20-19.  The game in Springfield Wednesday will start at 4PM and can be listened to live via an audio web-cast by visiting this site.  This is a Missouri State feed so we will have to follow the game through the eyes of the enemy, but it sure beats Gametracker. Shaeffer Hall will represent the Jayhawks. The MSU starter has not yet been announced.

Kansas is ranked 8th in the Big-12 right now if you are using winning percentage. Be sure to check out the Corn Nation Weekly Big-12 Baseball run down for the state of the conference.

[Update: Final Score KU 8 - Tabor 1]
[Update: Final Score KU 11 - Missouri State 7]

Bkmhoxx adds his Missouri State scouting report below.

This is a storied program in recent history. A lot of great draft picks, Most recently, Brett Sinkbeil (19th overall pick to Florida in 06) and last year Ross Detwiler (6th overall to Washington) but before that, you have the 2006 NL MVP and one of the best players in all of major league baseball in Ryan Howard. Kansas City boy and currently in Toronto, Shaun Marcum and also the 2003 batting title winner and 04 world series winner with Boston, Bill Mueller. All in all, they have proven to much better than most of the Big 12 in recent years as far as producing primetime baseball players and winning games. . (In the past they have taken a lot of good players from the area that KU and Mizzou and Wichita St. battle for in recruiting) This year the Jayhawks will catch Missouri St. in a "down year" as they lost a lot of players to the draft or to graduation. They have 7 freshman and 5 transfers, so this is a very freshly renovated team with a few very good players mixed in to act as the glue. They have started off fairly strong thus far but haven’t really played anyone of any substance yet. Nonetheless, tomorrow’s game will be a tough one for the Hawks. Missouri St. just lost at Oklahoma St. tonight in a slugfest (19-10). This score definitely shows their weakness - Pitching. That coupled with KU’s bats really working right now, could prove to bring home a victory before heading to Texas this weekend. This is one of those games that KU really needs to help their RPI.

The Bears have several players with future draft possibilities. The leading candidate right now would have to be.

Senior catcher Kyle Paul Paul batted .323 with 4HR and 37RBI last year and destroyed KU pitching. Thus far he has been limited and is only batting .273. Im not sure if he is injured or what is the cause of his lack of at bats. He was drafted in the 41st round in 2006 and I would bet he gets chosen in the top 10 rounds after this season. Good catchers that can hit are very hard to come by.

Another Senior is RFer Nolan Keane. Keane is a power hitting lefty that hit .314 with 9HR and 32RBI last season. So far this year he is at .317 with 2HR and 14RBI. He too has a shot to be drafted in the middle rounds with his nice bat.

Yet another senior is CFer Ben Woodbury. Woodbury is a very tough out who very rarely strikes out. Last year he hit .309 and showed a great knack for getting on base with his strike zone discipline. He is tearing it up this year batting .449 with 14RBI and only 3 strikeouts. He went 3-6 with 3rbi tonight in Stillwater. Woodbury is someone I would not want to pitch against and because of his on-base abilities; he has a chance to be drafted in the middle rounds.

Another player that is on fire so far is Junior 3B Brayden Drake. Drake is hitting .388 with 2HR and 19rbi this year and he went 3-5 with 2rbi tonight against Oklahoma St.

Sophomore 1B Ben Carlson ( a Topeka kid) is batting .436 with 4hr and 13rbi.

(FUN FACT: Junior OFer Ryan Mantle is a 3rd cousin to Mickey Mantle) So as you can see, they have plenty of bats and will score plenty of runs this year. The problem and the question marks are with the pitching. As of right now im not sure who they will name as starter opposing Schaeffer Hall for KU. Im guessing we will get their ace Tim Clubb.

Clubb beat KU easily last year, he hasn’t pitched since Saturday, and they play Northern Colorado this weekend, so that is my reasoning. Clubb went 6-3 last year with a 4.07 ERA as a freshman. With the loss of so much of their staff, he automatically becomes the ace but for good reason. Clubb is a very good pitcher and thus far this year he is 1-0 with a 3.50 ERA with 14 strikeouts in 18 innings pitched.

Another possibility would be Sophomore Buddy Baumann who is a 5’10", 175 pound strikeout pitcher and is 1-1 this year with 15K’s in 14 innings pitched. He does run into trouble however and has a 5.14 ERA. Bauman pitched the first game of a doubleheader on Sunday so im really guessing it will be Clubb that faces the Jayhawks.

They also have Freshman Aaron Meade from Rockhurst in KC who is a very talented pitcher and is 2-0 this year with a 1.98 ERA and 14K’s in 13.2 innings. So while the pitching is thin, it appears they have reloaded and will be back to a power in the next year or so. Im hoping KU can catch them while they are down and before their pitchers can settle in.

My prediction for the game is 7-5 with Kansas coming out on top.