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Friday, March 30, 2007

KU visits Mizzou



I was able to get permission to copy the following article from RockChalkTalk but it is slated heavily towards KU but is a good preview of the Missouri-Kansas series.

KU will be in Columbia this weekend playing a three game series with the Missouri Tigers. MU is off to a surprisingly good start, carrying a 20-7 record (2-1 Big-12). The Tigers are ranked in two of the four national polls (#25 and #28), and their RPI ranking of #32 justifies these optimistic placements.

I say "optimistic" because it seems to me that Missouri and K-State are 1st-half only teams. I have only followed Big-12 baseball for a few years but already I've been fooled by these teams getting off to good starts and then fizzling two years in a row so now take a cynical view of their long term prospects. Maybe 2007 will be different and MU or KSU will keep their steam up as they move into April and May. We'll find out soon enough.

Regardless as to past history, MU looks very solid right now and the Jayhawks will need to be on their game to win this series.

Probable Starters
Friday 6:30: Nick Czyz (2-4, 3.69 ERA) vs. Aaron Crow (4-0, 2.15 ERA)
Saturday 2:00: Zach Ashwood (3-2, 5.67 ERA) vs. Rick Zagone (4-0, 3.65 ERA)
Sunday 1:00: Andy Marks (3-3, 6.10 ERA) vs. Greg Folgia (2-2, 3.49 ERA)

Missouri in a nutshell
MU has not played an easy schedule this year, five of their seven losses have come to teams ranked in the RPI top-100. Against these upper teams the Tigers are 7-5.

0-1 vs. Oregon State (#17)
1-1 vs. Arizona State (#26)
0-1 vs. Memphis (#31)
2-1 vs. Nebraska (#46)
2-0 vs. Louisiana-Monroe (#70)
1-0 vs. Dallas Baptist (#71)
1-0 vs. Texas State (#85)
0-1 vs. Creighton (#97)

KU fans have many reasons to dislike Missouri. Last year the final game between the two teams got out of control breifly in the conference tournament. Both benches emptied in the 2nd inning when Ryne Price hit a homerun and found an Missouri player unwilling to surrender the base pads as he rounded third.

One more reason to not love Missouri is their team website which does not list player On-Base or Slugging averages. Even without full information a few Tiger batters having solid years can be identified .

#3 Evan Frey: 83 at bats, .337 BA, 0 HR, 12 RBI, 6 SB.
#20 Ryan Lollis: 102 at bats, .333 BA, 2 HR, 31 RBI, 7 SB.
#7 Kyle Mach: 69 at bats, .333 BA, 1 HR, 9 RBI.
#14 Trevor Coleman: 60 at bats, .317 BA, 2 HR, 20 RBI.
#4 Brock Bond: 92 at bats, .293 BA, 19 RBI, 7 SB.
#28 John McKee: 95 at bats, .253 BA, 3 HR, 26 RBI.
#51 Jacob Priday: 89 at bats, .225 BA, 1 HR, 15 RBI.

As a team the Tigers are hitting .277, with an unknown On-Base and Slugging percentage. They are scoring 6.8 runs per game so they are getting it done at the plate. This is a bit hard to understand. Their batting average is not very high, they have only hit 10 homeruns in 27 games, and their running game is good but not great at 36 stolen bases. Of note on the above list is the struggling Jacob Priday. Priday is a two time All Big-12 selection, last year he lead MU with 11 homeruns and 49 RBI's. Is he styling for the scouts this year? Has he been hurt? Whatever the reason for his struggles let's hope he doesn't discover the cure this weekend.

As has been the case over the last several years MU's team strength is their pitching. The team ERA of 3.06 is phenomenal at the NCAA level. All three starting pitchers KU will face are having great years. The Tiger bullpen is also well-stocked. Kyle Gibson appears to be their closer, having already recorded five saves and put together some very solid numbers. 33.2 innings, 19 hits, 5/35 BB/K ratio.

Missouri has not lost a home game this year (10-0) and are coming off a big road series win at Nebraska. KU needs to win a conference series badly and there is no sweeter place to do so than in Columbia, Missouri. Marks and Ashwood both pitched fairly well last week vs. Oklahoma State and Czyz has been solid all year. All that has separated the Jayhawks from a winning Big-12 record this year has been the lack of a few big hits in key situations. Let's hope it all comes together for the team this weekend and the Jayhawks start the second half of their season strong.

3 comments:

JQ said...

Nick Czyz and Aaron Crow engaged in a moderately low scoring pitching duel yesterday through six plus innings. Czyz gave way to closer Paul Smyth in the top of the seventh with the score tied 4-4, only to see Missouri take the lead 5-4 when the Tigers scored on three singles that inning.

I could not attend the game, only listened to the play by play on KLWN. It seems that Czyz came in without his best stuff, but that he struggled through and kept the team in the game. In six innings Nick gave up 10 hits and a walk. He only struck out two batters, well below his season average of 9.7 K’s per nine innings. For the second consequetive weekend Smyth took a little while warming up. Last week vs. Oklahoma State Smyth also entered a game in the seventh inning and had a rough first inning, although in that case he did prevent the Cowboys from scoring.

The score settled in at 5-4 until the ninth inning. Missouri closer Kyle Gibson struck out five of the first seven Jayhawks to come to the plate against him, and then something dramatic happened.

With two outs in the top of the ninth, KU trailing by a run, bases empty, Brock Simpson doubled off Gibson. This was the first dent in his armor. Next batter, Erik Morrison, Homerun to left field. KU takes the lead 6-5. Next batter, Ryne Price. Homerun. KU 7-5.

For months KU has struggled to get over the hump and win games vs. highly rated opponents. The biggest factor holding them back has been their inability to collect the clutch hits. Maybe yesterday signals a change in that pattern.

KU steals a road Big-12 win and improves to 16-15 (3-4) while Missouri falls to 20-8 (2-2).

KU recap and boxscore:
http://kuathletics.cstv.com/sports/m-basebl/recaps/033007aaa.html

Game two, Saturday, first pitch 2:00PM. Rain is possible.

JQ said...

Depressing. KU rallied from an 8-0 deficiet to take a 9-8 lead in the top of the ninth. Missouri hit a two run home run in the bottom of the ninth off Paul Smyth to walk off with the win.

KU recap and boxscore:
http://kuathletics.cstv.com/sports/m-basebl/recaps/040107aaa.html

The Jayhawks fall to 16-17 (3-6) while Mizzou improves to 22-8 (4-2).

It was a great game. I don't think I'll write more about it as it breaks your heart to loose like this.

JQ said...

Baseball Update: KU (15-16, 3-6)

A new KU baseball update is posted at Rock Chalk Talk. It is split up over two entries. You can link to them below or just visit www.rockchalktalk.com and scroll down.

http://www.rockchalktalk.com/story/2007/4/1/184018/0589
http://www.rockchalktalk.com/story/2007/4/1/23729/95140

It was an exciting but ultimately disappointing week for KU baseball. The Jayhawks visit Kansas State for a single non-conference game on Tuesday and this weekend will host the University of Texas and their migrating fan base.