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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dugan Arnett’s KU baseball notebook

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KU won't face KSU standout pitcher Morris

Barring some unforeseen change of plans, the Kansas University baseball team won’t face Kansas State standout A.J. Morris in today’s Big 12 tournament in Oklahoma City.

After throwing close to 140 pitches in a dazzling 4-1 victory over KU last Friday in Manhattan, Morris, who was named the Big 12 pitcher of the year Tuesday after going 12-1 with a 1.61 earned-run average, will be given a rest day during the Wildcats’ tournament opener against the Jayhawks at 9 a.m. today at AT&T; Bricktown Ballpark. He will pitch against Baylor on Thursday.

K-State instead will throw Lance Hoge, a senior lefthander who suffered a 9-3 loss to the Jayhawks on Saturday in Lawrence, giving up five runs in just two innings.

KU coach Ritch Price on Tuesday praised the number of quality at-bats his players pieced together in the game — laying off outside and low pitches and forcing Hoge to work within the strike zone.

“It’ll take that same approach (today), because that’s how he pitches,” said Price, who added that Shaeffer Hall (4-6, 4.60 ERA) will start today for KU. “He tries to locate away and locate down, and you’ve got to make him elevate the ball to be successful.”

Wildcats looking forward

Asked this week what his team needed to do to regain its composure following a lopsided series loss to the Jayhawks last weekend, K-State coach Brad Hill didn’t hesitate.

“Short-term memory,” he said, smiling. “All those balls flying all over the ballpark, I hope we don’t see that happening again. KU’s a very good ballclub. They swing the bats extremely well, they’re playing with a lot of confidence right now, and they just flat out out-played us.”

Following Morris’ win in Friday’s series opener, K-State suffered back-to-back lopsided losses, including a 17-7 KU victory Sunday that was shortened due to the Big 12’s 10-run mercy rule.

A good sign?

If past performance is any indication, Kansas looks to be in prime position to make a run at its second Big 12 title in the past four years.

Against the three teams grouped with them in pool play this week — No. 1 seed Texas, No. 4 seed Kansas State and No. 8 seed Baylor — the Jayhawks went 6-3 this season, including a three-game sweep of then-No. 1 Texas and a 2-1 series victory over the Wildcats. (Baylor handed KU two of its three home losses this season in a 2-1 series win).

The Jayhawks also recorded a 2-1 series victory over the tournament’s No. 2 seed, Oklahoma, and finished 2-2 against third-seeded Missouri.

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