Next two conference series crucial for Jayhawks
- May. 2, 2012
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The Kansas baseball team is 45 games into the season. Only 11 games are left until the Big 12 Tournament begins.
The Jayhawks sit at 18-27 and just 4-13 in Big 12 play, good enough for eighth place out of nine teams. To qualify for the Big 12 tournament, Kansas must finish in at least eighth place.
Six conference games remain on the schedule for the Jayhawks. One next weekend against in-state rival Kansas State in Manhattan. The following weekend, the Missouri Tigers come to town to finish off the regular season.
Before the Kansas State series, Kansas will host the Jayhawk Classic this weekend. Kansas will play Air Force on Friday and Saturday before playing Missouri State on Sunday.
The Jayhawk Classic will be an important opportunity for Kansas to build confidence before going into the two most important series of the season.
Here is a preview of the importance of each conference series remaining:
May 11-13 at Kansas State
This series could decide which team is left out of the conference tournament. The Kansas State Wildcats is the only team behind Kansas in the conference standings at 3-15 and 19-27 overall.
The Jayhawks already beat the Wildcats 8-7 in 11 innings this season in a non-conference game in Lawrence. Kansas had an opportunity to blow that game open, leading by as many as five runs in the fifth inning. But the Jayhawks let the Wildcats back into the game, giving up two runs in the sixth before giving up three runs in the ninth to tie the game.
Senior third baseman Zac Elgie won the game on a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 11th inning.
The Jayhawks will need to attack Kansas State’s pitchers in order to have success in this crucial series. Wildcat pitchers give up runs. They have the worst team-ERA in the conference at 5.62 this season.
The Jayhawks have the second highest team-ERA in the conference, but it’s better than the Wildcats’ by more than a run at 4.54.
The biggest mismatch is the two offenses. Kansas State holds the fourth-highest team batting average (.277) in the conference while Kansas comes in last at .250. The Wildcats have scored 66 more runs than the Jayhawks this season.
The Kansas pitchers will need to keep Kansas State bats in check and the Kansas hitters need to get ahead early.
Whoever wins this series is likely to be playing postseason baseball. The loser will likely miss out.
May 17-19 vs. Missouri Tigers
It’s the last Border Showdown ever most likely. Whoever wins this series will hold bragging rights over their rivals.
Should the Jayhawks take care of the Wildcats the weekend before, it is important that they finish the season strong against the Tigers to insure that they don’t miss out on the conference tournament.
Missouri sits sixth in the Big 12 with a 7-11 conference record and a 23-20 overall record.
Despite the difference in records, the Jayhawks and Tigers match up well according to statistics.
Missouri pitchers have allowed less earned runs, 180 to Kansas’ 203. Kansas ptichers miss more bats. The Jayhawks have struck out 291 batters while the Tigers have struck out 252.
The Tigers hold a slight edge over the Jayhawks in offensive categories. They have a .272 team batting average and have scored 43 more runs overall. The Tigers have slugged 22 homers while the Jayhawks have hit 21. Kansas is more patient at the plate, walking 20 more times than Missouri this season.
Nothing would make a disappointing Kansas baseball season better than taking a series from its fierce rival who is bolting the conference for the SEC.
edited by Jeff Karr