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Monday, May 27, 2013

KU baseball left out of NCAA Tournament field

Members of the Kansas University baseball team watch the NCAA tournament selection show Monday, May 27, 2013, in the clubhouse at Hoglund Ballpark. The Jayhawks missed out on a tourney berth, despite a runner-up finish at the Big 12 tournament.

Members of the Kansas University baseball team watch the NCAA tournament selection show Monday, May 27, 2013, in the clubhouse at Hoglund Ballpark. The Jayhawks missed out on a tourney berth, despite a runner-up finish at the Big 12 tournament.

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What started out as a hopeful and nervous locker room quickly turned into a ghost town, as members of the Kansas University baseball team began the painful process of closing up shop for the season after learning Monday morning that they had not made this year’s NCAA Tournament field.

Fresh off Sunday’s loss to Oklahoma in the Big 12 tournament title game, the Jayhawks gathered in their clubhouse to watch the unveiling of the field of 64 on ESPNU. Based on their overall body of work and the 68th-best RPI, most entered Monday with a realistic view of what was coming.

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Kansas sophomore Justin Protacio checks his phone after learning that the Jayhawks did not make it into the NCAA baseball tournament. The team gathered Monday, May 27, 2013, at the Hoglund Ballpark clubhouse to watch the tournament selection show.

“Going into it, we didn’t think we had that great of a chance,” said senior ace Thomas Taylor. “But at the same time there was still that glimmer of hope. Obviously, it’s disappointing.”

As the participants for the 16 four-team regionals were announced two at a time, the locker room produced all kinds of sounds and emotions. At times, such as when clubs with losing records were announced into the field, there was almost a comical feel.

“Canisius?” one Jayhawk was heard saying with a smile and a helpless laugh.

Canisius, along with nearly two dozen others, made the NCAA Tournament by winning its conference tournament. Jackson State, a team KU drubbed 11-0 in March, and Wichita State, whom the Jayhawks swept in a home-and-home series, did the same.

At other times, such as when Big 12 foe Oklahoma State was shown on the television screen, the mood of the Jayhawks became a little more disheartened.

“That one definitely hurt the most,” said senior shortstop Kevin Kuntz. “Especially since we had beat them in the Big 12 tournament (last Friday) and really all year (KU won two of three during the season series). But, obviously, they had a good enough record going in and had won all the games they needed to even though we beat them.”

Oklahoma State, Oklahoma and Kansas State were the only three Big 12 schools invited to regional play. That, more than anything, best illustrated that the selection committee viewed this as a down year for the league, even though the Jayhawks fared well in conference play and came out on top of more Big 12 weekends than they lost.

“Being in a power conference, it’s kind of a bummer getting left out,” Kuntz said. “We figured there would be more than three (Big 12) teams get in.”

It was not just the late-season, six-game losing streak to Kansas State and Utah in back-to-back weekends that cost the Jayhawks. They also struggled to win out-of-conference games early in the season and, in the end, that took a toll on their overall body of work.

“Skip (KU coach Ritch Price) preached to us all year that we had to take care of the midweek games,” Taylor said. “And we lost a couple of those that we shouldn’t have.”

Despite coming up short of their ultimate goal and first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2009, the Jayhawks were able to see the positive as they packed up their belongings and shut down the clubhouse for another offseason.

“Just to get to the Big 12 championship and have that opportunity was awesome,” Taylor said. “We didn’t have that much confidence going into it, but when we got there we thought we were gonna win it. It’s a big deal to get that far after everything we went through this season.”

Added Kuntz: “It was nice to at least rebound and play in the championship and go out with a bang. It was definitely a lot better to end on that note than losing nine straight. That was awesome. We came back and did what we needed to do, we were just that short.”

KU finished the season with 15 total Big 12 victories and a 34-25 overall record.

Comments

kay_you 1 year, 1 month ago

Does baseball have an NIT tournament?

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Matt Tait 1 year, 1 month ago

Nope. That's the end of the season.

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dylans 1 year, 1 month ago

Does the basketball team or baseball team win more games next season?

Does the football team or basketball team lose more games next season?

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pepper_bar 1 year, 1 month ago

This story implies Canisius had a losing record. Nope. 42-15.

The only losing team I found in the bracket is Bowling Green at 24-29. What am I missing?

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Pitthawk34 1 year, 1 month ago

Cant lose 6 straight at the end of the season and expect much. Good post season but small ball can only take you so far.

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texashawk10 1 year, 1 month ago

You can't play as weak a schedule as KU did and struggle as much as KU did against the highest ranked teams they played and expect to get an at-large bid. KU's only games against RPI top 50 teams came in conference games and KU went 4-7 in those games going 0-3 against KSU, 1-3 against OU, and 3-1 against OSU. Coach Price needs to get some decent non-conference games on the schedule next year and quit playing the non-D1 teams in the area because it just kills KU's SOS.

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741hawk 1 year, 1 month ago

It's amazing to me the number of posts on even an average, off-season Jayhawk football or basketball story . . . compared to championship related posts for other sports -- baseball, women's basketball, rowing . . . . No matter what the "politically correct" and Title IX crowd hope for, virtually all college sports fans care about Football and Men's basketball . . . period.

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actorman 1 year, 1 month ago

741, that's completely missing the point on PC and Title IX. It's not about how many people cheer for them or care about them, it's about giving females an equal opportunity to excel in sports and have a chance for a college education.

Do you honestly think that the explosion of female sports in the last 40 years has been a BAD thing?

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HawkTronic 1 year, 1 month ago

What is the Title IX position on lifeboats when the ship hits the iceberg?

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Steve Reigle 1 year, 1 month ago

Unbelievable. It's difficult to see such a travesty and even more difficult to realize the impact on these kids, some of whom will never have another chance at the tournament.

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pepper_bar 1 year, 1 month ago

How is this a "travesty"? This was fully expected given KU's unfavorable RPI.

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texashawk10 1 year, 1 month ago

Please explain how KU missing the tournament was a travesty? The Big 12 was pretty down this year, KU's schedule was very weak this year, and KU only won 4 games against teams good enough to receive an at large bid (OU was getting in no matter what happened in the Big 12 title game). No part of KU's resume said they were worthy of consideration for an at-large bid.

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JayHawkFanToo 1 year, 1 month ago

I agree. All things considered, it was good season for the baseball team. It was a young team that has most of the players coming back and should be a lot better next year.

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JayHawkFanToo 1 year, 1 month ago

How about an article about the women's track team that finished the season ranked #1 and the men's track team that finished #15? This is a good as track and filed has been in a long time. Come on Journal World, not much happening in the majors sports, you can assign someone to cover track and field at the NCAA Outdoor Championship.

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sporty 1 year, 1 month ago

Yeah, let's talk about women's track! KU fan won't have much to talk about from now til October. Quiddatch, maybe??

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texashawk10 1 year, 1 month ago

The national meet has not happened yet. They just had regional qualifiers this past weekend in which there were 2 articles talking how KU's athletes did in Austin. The LJW writers do a much better job of tracking lesser sports that most other newspapers.

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Josh Galler 1 year, 1 month ago

Is kevin kuntz related to royals coach kuntz?

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