Friday, May 22, 2009

Dugan Arnett’s KU baseball notebook


Narodowski enjoying recent power surge

Apparently, earning the distinction of the Big 12’s newcomer of the year has put a little hop into Kansas University shortstop David Narodowski’s step.

Or, more accurately, a little pop into his bat.

Narodowski, a junior-college transfer who has been the team’s leadoff batter this season, hit his second home run of the conference tournament — and fifth of the season — Thursday, a solo shot to left-center field that represented the Jayhawks’ first hit in a 9-3 loss to top-seeded Texas.

In Wednesday’s tournament opener against Kansas State, he kicked off the scoring with a solo home run in the top of the fifth inning that gave the Jayhawks an early 1-0 lead.

Following Thursday’s loss, however, which dropped Kansas to 0-2 in pool play and eliminated their chances of advancing to the tournament final, his recent power surge didn’t seem to be too foremost in the mind of the Vancouver, B.C., native.

“They got ahead early in the game, but we had a lot of game left,” Narodowski said of his team’s failed comeback attempt. “The goal was to chip away, try to get one or two runs every inning, hopefully get the deficit cut in half and work from there.”

Longhorns peaking

Back in March, then-No. 1 Texas couldn’t do much right during a three-game sweep at the hands of unranked Kansas.

On Thursday, however, the Longhorns didn’t do much wrong, and it didn’t take long for legendary Texas coach Augie Garrido to identify what the difference was this time around.

“The thing that gave us trouble (in the regular-season series) was that we couldn’t score the run to take the lead,” said Garrido, whose team snapped a four-game losing streak to the Jayhawks. “We hit the ball pretty well in those games, but they made good plays on them.”

Likewise, members of the Longhorns cited a lack of focus during their early-season troubles, which they’ve seemed to put far behind them.

Since falling to the Jayhawks to begin the conference season 0-3, Texas has gone 18-7-1 against Big 12 opponents.

“It was early in the year. We weren’t playing up to our potential,” said UT catcher Cameron Rupp, who was 1-for-4 with a three-run home run Thursday. “We knew coming into this game that if we played and hit like we did (earlier in the tournament), we had a chance to win any game, not just this one.”

Texas, KSU to battle for spot in title game

With its 9-4 victory over Baylor on Thursday night, Kansas State moved to 2-0 in pool play and put itself in prime position to battle for a Big 12 title.

But based on the conference’s tiebreaker rule, which rewards a team by its seeding, the fourth-seeded Wildcats might not even make the title game if they can't beat top-seeded Texas (currently 1-1 in pool play) on Saturday.

If Baylor, K-State and Texas all finish pool play with 2-1 records, the Longhorns would advance to Sunday's championship based on their No. 1 seed.

Texas and the Wildcats will play at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, immediately following Kansas’ game against eighth-seeded Baylor.


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