Kansas hosts the Western Illinois Leathernecks for a mid-week series with games Tuesday and Wednesday at 3PM. WIU has been a frequent visitor to Lawrence over the last seven years and Kansas owns a perfect 14-0 record over them. Hopefully KU will avoid a trap game in this series and head to College Park on Friday with momentum. Sadly there will be no radio or webcast for the series so you need to come down to Hoglund and get your baseball the old-fashioned way.
Probable Starting Pitchers
Tuesday 3PM: Cameron Selik (1-1, 5.82 ERA) vs. John Sneegas (1-1, 3.46 ERA)
Wednesday 3PM: Brett Bollman (1-0, 2.25) vs. Auston Brough (0-3, 9.39)
The Leathernecks are not a particularly good team (RPI #189) but they already have scored upsets on the road over Iowa and Oklahoma State so they are capable. Their team strength is their hitting. They bring in a veteran line-up that is scoring 5.6 runs per game. Their pitching staff has been awful. Their team ERA is 10.65. Complete WIU statistics found here.
Western Illinois lost eight of their top ten pitchers from last season. So far their rebuilt pitching staff has been shelled. Tuesday’s starter, Junoir lefthander John Sneegas, has bucked this trend so far. He has a 3.46 ERA in 13 innings of work. Lawrence will probably give Sneegas a friendly welcome. He pitched at Free State high school. Austin Brough will get the start on Wednesday. Brough, another Junior lefty, has numbers too horrible to get into. There really are no pitchers in the WIU bullpen having any success this year. Provided the Jayhawks can get to Sneegas they should rampage through the rest of the staff.
The Leathernecks do have a few decent bats. #3 Cole Waddell (Sr. 2B) is hitting .357, a bit better than his .312 average last year. #17 Cooper Stewart (Sr. DH/C) and #15 Tyler Metcalf (Sr. 1B) are also hitting over three hundred in 2009. Metcalf has some power. #12 Drew Laidig (Sr. 3B/C) comes in at .298. He hit .349 last year with 4 homeruns and 41 RBIs so he knows how to handle the bat. It looks like the Leathernecks start seven seniors so they are veterany. This quality has not translated into a good defense. WIU commits about 1.5 errors a game, roughly the same rate as they achieved last year.
If the wind is as crazy as it has been the last few days in Lawrence there could be a lot of runs scored in these games. Kansas is 10-0 at Hoglund, their longest home winning streak in seven years. Hopefully nothing unexpected will happen this week and the Hawks will protect the Hog once again.
After their sweep of Texas Kansas’ RPI is now #29. That is the lowest I have every seen the Jayhawks ranked. This season is getting pretty exciting. If KU takes care of Western Illinois this week and manages to win two at College Station I am sure they will be ranked next week. But let’s not look ahead.