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KU stumbles badly in Bricktown. Jayhawks hope to hear good news from the NCAA Monday.

Kansas fell to Baylor 8-4 Saturday morning.  All the Kansas runs came on Tony Thompson’s 3rd inning grand slam.  The homerun was Thompson’s 19th of the season, setting a new KU record.  It’s hard to celebrate a record, no matter how monumental, on the same day the team finishes out its first Big-12 tournament in three years by going 0-3.


The Jayhawks were quickly in the hole Saturday.  Lee Ridenhour gave up three runs in the first inning and was not sent out to start the second.  Coach Price said after the game, “I knew we were in trouble when I looked at the radar gun [reading Ridenhour’s first pitch] and it was 83 miles per hour.”  Price explained, “I think he’s hit the freshman wall.  I think he’s completely healthy, I just think we obviously need to get him bigger and stronger.”  Ridenhour’s replacement, Cameron Selik, fared no better.  Selick gave up three runs of his own on Baylor shortstop Shaver Hansen’s 16th homerun of the season.  Price is pretty tired of that guy.  “I’ll be the happiest guy in America when I see Shaver Hansen drafted high enough to sign.  We haven’t got him out in three years.”


Thompson’s grand slam closed the deficit to 6-4 and kept the Hawks in the game but they failed to sustain the rally.  Thompson provided KU fans with one final attention grabbing moment when he came to the plate in the top of the 7th with KU down 7-4 representing the tying run.  The Bears brought in team ace Kendal Volz to face Tony and he induced a can of corn to center with one pitch.


Baylor does not have much hope of making the NCAA tournament so most likely their season ended yesterday.  After opening the season ranked Baylor will head back to Waco shaking their head with a 29-24 record and an 8th place finish in the conference.  KU’s record dropped to 37-22.  The NCAA tournament field will be announced Monday at 11:30 (ESPN broadcast).  Hopefully KU will be named an at-large.  Chances look good here.  The team will hold a press conference at 1PM Monday.


Provided KU makes the tournament the players will have to put the unpleasantness of Oklahoma City out of mind quickly.  Brian Heere summed it up.  “I believe we’ve done a great job flushing bad games in the past and coming back our next game fresh and renewed, so we just need to flush it.”  I guess I normally do not feel fresh and renewed after a good “flush,” but, whatever method helps the team rebound, I’m all for it.


Evaluating KU’s chances of making the field are really just so much noise at this point.  Obviously the decision is out of our hands.  For those who want to work the matter over independently here are a few factors over which to mull.  Kansas' RPI is #52 now, which does not bode well.  The ISR is much more favorable to the Hawks, putting them at #34.  Their 5th place finish in the Big-12 is a strong favorable argument.  Kansas went 15-17 vs. the RPI top-75, which I think is a bit of a plus.  Kansas was 8-7 in their final 15 games, a wash there.  A negative for KU is their home/road splits.  KU was 25-3 at home, 9-14 as the visitor, and 3-5 at neutral sites.


What do the pundits think?  Kendal Rogers of thinks KU is safely in.  Interestingly, Rogers thinks Baylor and Oklahoma State are the first two teams which are “out.”  That must be encouraging to BU and OSU fans.  Rogers also thinks Texas will get the #1 overall national seed, and that Kansas State and Oklahoma will both be named regional hosts.  I’d like that result fine.  Aaron Fit has not updated his predicted field since May 13th but at the time he had KU in.  Jeremy Mills of ESPN last published a prediction on May 18th.  Mills also thought KU was safely in.


After the break, additional notes on the team as well as Saturday’s box score. 

Ridenhour shut down for the summer:  Price was quoted as saying he had decided to shut down Lee Ridenhour for the summer, meaning that Lee probably will not play in any of the summer leagues as do many college players.  He said Lee’s velocity had dropped from the low 90’s down to the mid 80’s over the last few weeks of the season.


Record setting weekend:  Tony Thompson is the new single season home run king at KU with 19.  He also now holds the school record for most total bases in a single season with 168.  His 25 doubles and 78 RBIs this season put him second all-time at KU.  Josh Kliner still owns both those single season records with 28 doubles and 85 RBIs in 1996.  Tony’s .730 slugging percentage is the 5th highest ever in school history.  Russ Blaylock had a .834 Slug% in 1981 to set the record.


Some other records set this weekend – Most pitching starts for a freshman - 14 by Lee Ridenhour breaking Jamie Splittorff’s record of 13 sent in 1993.  Most career sacrifices – 57 by Robby Price. Robby actually had this record after his sophomore year and just added more distance between him and the player second on that list, his brother Ritchie, who had 35 from 2003-2006.  Most career pitching appearances – 128 by Paul Smyth ties the old record set by Don Czyz from 2003-2006.  Most pitching appearances in a single season – 37 by Travis Blankenship also ties a Don Czyz record sent in 2006.  Buck Afenir had one RBI in the tournament which allowed him to move past Ryne Price into sole position of 9th place in career RBI’s at KU with 156.  The next two men on that list are Brent Wilhelm (158 from 1992-1995) and, one of my favorite Jayhawks of all-time, John Allman (159 from 2005-2008).


Coach Price chat at LJ World:  Before leaving for Bricktown Coach Price engaged in an on-line chat with fans at the LJ World.  Here is the transcript from that session.  It’s worth reading.  The short version: Price thinks this team has the best pitching depth of all the team’s he has coached so far at KU; he thinks Buck Afenir is perhaps the most important player on the team; he doesn’t understand why the RPI is ranking KU as low as it is and will talk with an NCAA statistician on Monday to get some feedback; he thinks either Zac Elgie or Brett Lisher can play first base next year, and is planning on moving Jake Marasco into that position as well next year (wow, talk about an embarrassment of riches!); and finally, he loves Lawrence and hopes to continue on as KU head coach for at least another ten years.


Link to KU recap.

May 23, 2009 at Oklahoma City, OK (Bricktown Ballpark)

Kansas 4 (37-22)

Player   ab    r    h  rbi   bb   so   po    a  lob 
Narodowski, David ss 
Price, Robby 2b 
  Selik, Cameron p 
  Lisher, Brett ph 
  Bollman, Brett p 
  Waters, Jimmy ph 
  Burk, Kevin p 
  Blankenship, Travis p 
  Elgie, Zac ph 
  Murray, Colton p 
  Bochy, Brett p 
  Lincoln, Joe ph 
Heere, Brian rf 
Afenir, Buck
Thompson, Tony 3b 
Lytle, Casey lf 
Stanfield, James dh/2b 
Land, Preston 1b 
Faunce, Nick cf 
Ridenhour, Lee
Totals  35  24 

Baylor 8 (29-24)

Player   ab    r    h  rbi   bb   so   po    a  lob 
Dickerson, Dustin dh 
Hainsfurther, Joey 2b 
Hansen, Shaver ss 
Miller, Aaron rf 
Evatt, Dan 1b 
Booker, Ben lf 
Lambert, Don cf 
Glime, Gregg c 
Campbell, Raynor 3b 
Ringenberg, Jon p 
  Fritsch, Craig p 
  Volz, Kendal p 
Totals  33  13  27 

Score by Innings                    R  H  E
Kansas.............. 004 000 000 -  4  8  1
Baylor.............. 330 100 10X -  8 13  0
E - Narodowski(20). DP - Kansas 1. LOB - Kansas 8; Baylor 9. 2B - Dickerson(16); Booker(6). HR - Thompson, T.(19); Hansen(16). SH - Hainsfurther 2(6). SF - Dickerson(1); Hansen(4). SB - Lambert(1).

Kansas   ip  er  bb  so  wp  bk  hbp  ibb  ab  bf  fo  go  np 
Ridenhour, Lee L,6-3  1.0  34 
Selik, Cameron   1.0  16 
Bollman, Brett   2.0  11  39 
Burk, Kevin   0.1  16 
Blankenship, Travis   1.2  32 
Murray, Colton   1.0  22 
Bochy, Brett   1.0  14 
Baylor   ip  er  bb  so  wp  bk  hbp  ibb  ab  bf  fo  go  np 
Ringenberg, Jon   3.2  16  17  70 
Fritsch, Craig W,4-5  3.0  11  14  64 
Volz, Kendal S,2  2.1  20 

Win - Fritsch (4-5). Loss - Ridenhour (6-3). Save - Volz (2). WP - Ridenhour(6). Pitches/strikes: Ridenhour 34/23; Selik, C. 16/13; Bollman, B. 39/20; Burk, K. 16/7; Blankenship 32/21; Murray, C. 22/13; Bochy, B. 14/9; Ringenberg 70/46; Fritsch 64/36; Volz 20/17.

Umpires - HP: Patrick Spieler 1B: Doug Williams 2B: Randy Wetzel 3B: Mike
Start: 9:01 am Time: 2:58 Attendance:
Weather: Mostly sunny, 70 degrees