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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

KMathis 10 months, 3 weeks ago

If you lose 6 in a row at the end of the season... And don't win Big 12 tourney and you're a bubble team... Forget it. Swept by Utah was the clincher. You play like faggots down the stretch and you'll get bitch-slapped... And that is exactly what happened.

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Josh Galler 11 months ago

Is kevin kuntz related to royals coach kuntz?

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JayHawkFanToo 11 months 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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JHWKDW 11 months ago

I an glad that there are some people who care, but taking your anger out on Coach Price well he has done as good as a job I think he can IMHO. The thing about College Baseball is not only do you have to compete for getting players with the Oklahoma team, and K-State team, if there is a real good player, he may decide he wants to go to a Community College, then try to go pro/ Take a look at Albert Pujols for example. He did not go to a major college went to a smaller school.

Like Ive said before you got to realize support and finances are definitely not like Basketball, or even Football. before Zenger the AD and others did not care about any other sport other than Mens B-Ball.Also if we had a better stadium, I think in the future we may get one, and more people came out and supported them it might be a different situation.

Before we start jumping the gun, and talking about firing the coach,we need to sit down and look at what we need, and looking at the positives of what they have done. How about the most stolen bases in the Big 12, and a good Bullpen it aint all gloom and doom.The thing is the Big 12-2 has been a lousy conference. TCU and WVU, no disrespect to either one ,but do not replace the 4 teams we lost PERIOD!

Remember people we went from 10 games below .500 due to all the Freshmen in the Roster to 9 games above .500.

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iamakufan 11 months 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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JHWKDW 11 months ago

Sorry you guys didnt make it. Hey you guys had your ups and downs, but overall you did well 9 games above .500, and winning 3 Tourney games, making it to the Championship game. Not too bad.Alot of positive to build on. Wel better luck next year guys. Coach Price not too bad of a job.Got to see see you play Baylor and Wichita in person.Tell you what Id rather watch you than the Royals anyday. Well get em next year RCJH Baseball in 2013/14!

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741hawk 11 months 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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Pitthawk34 11 months 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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pepper_bar 11 months 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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dylans 11 months 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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kay_you 11 months ago

Does baseball have an NIT tournament?

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