Saturday, April 1, 2006

KU baseball defeats MU, 3-2

Jayhawks can win first Big 12 series on Sunday


Erik Morrison wasn't a complete Greek god Saturday afternoon at Hoglund Ballpark.

After all, the person running the postgame music as KU players manicured the field didn't turn down the music when Morrison jokingly gestured to the press box to do so in his postgame interview.

But the Jayhawks certainly placed the sophomore third baseman on a higher pedestal thanks to his two-run home run to left field that propelled KU to a 3-2 victory over No. 29 Missouri in front of the fourth-largest crowd (1,971) in Hoglund history.

"I wasn't really sure when it left my bat, but I was hoping," said a smiling Morrison, whose team-best seventh shot of the season fell over the left-field fence just outside the reach of MU outfielder Hunter Mense.

"That's a big win. That's the biggest game of our season right there," continued Morrison of the Jayhawks, which improved to 19-11 overall, 3-5 in Big 12 while Missouri fell to 16-10, and 6-2.

Morrison had a big play on defense as well, throwing out MU's Brock Bond at home in the fifth inning.

KU second baseman Jared Schweitzer -- who on the previous play flipped a ball to second for a force out, but the MU runner was ruled safe -- fielded another grounder cleanly but was way off the mark on his flip to KU shortstop Ritchie Price. Morrison was there for the back-up though and threw home to gun down a sliding Bond. Bond got up, threw his helmet as well as argued with the umpire, and was then ejected from the contest.

While Morrison's contribution defensively was key, so too was John Allman's sliding catch in the ninth that sealed KU's 19th win of the year.

"A total team effort. Johnny picked me up huge making that catch on the wall," said KU closer Don Czyz, who picked up his fourth win of the year in his 18th appearance of the season by pitching two scoreless innings.

Kansas, which had just three hits in MU's 3-0 win on Friday, nearly matched that number in the first inning Saturday as Kansas cranked out two hits and took a 1-0 lead when Gus Milner drove in Brock Simpson, who singled to start the inning, when he blasted a grounder past third.

The Tigers came back in the fifth with two runs, the second off of Schweitzer's fielder's choice.

Kansas collected five hits off MU ace Max Scherzer. The Tigers' All-American -- who could go as high as No. 1 overall in the 2006 MLB Draft -- had two strikeouts over four innings as he was working on a pitch count.

Much like his players, KU coach Ritch Price was ecstatic about KU's "biggest win of the year," and the energy that came from the large crowd.

"We got to win the series and give ourselves a chance to get back to .500 next weekend and then we'll be fine from there," Price said. "We just feel really honored that the students are supporting us as well as the rest of the community. This could be a really special place to play if the community continues to rally around us."

The Jayhawks and Tigers will play the rubber game of their three-game series Sunday at 1 p.m. KU will send senior Kodiak Quick (4-2, 2.47 ERA) to the hill while Mizzou will counter with freshman lefty Rick Zagone (2-0, 1.65 ERA).

Game Action

Missouri wasted no time getting in position to take an early lead Saturday afternoon when the Tigers loaded the bases with two outs, but MU leftfielder Hunter Mense popped out to KU shortstop Ritchie Price to end the threat.

The Jayhawks, who got only three hits Friday night, nearly equaled that total and got their first run of the series in the first inning Saturday. Brock Simpson led off the bottom of the first with a single up the middle. He moved to second on Ritchie Price's sacrifice bunt, and Jared followed with a walk. Gus Milner drove in Simpson when he blasted a grounder past MU third baseman Brock Bonds.

Mizzou All-American Max Scherzer - who could go as high as No. 1 overall in the 2006 MLB Draft - reached 99 mph on the radar gun.

The Tigers stranded two baserunners, both of whom walked, in the second inning.

Preston Land struck out to start the second, but John Allman followed with a walk. MU shortstop Gary Arndt got the Tigers out of the inning with an amazing double play when he dove up the middle to stop a ball hit by KU's Justin Ellrich. Arndt then flipped the ball with his glove to Tigers second baseman Trevor Helms who threw to first for the second out.

MU got a walk out of the third inning but not much else.

Saturday's crowd of 1,971 is the fourth-largest crowd in the 19 years of Hoglund Ballpark.

KU catcher Dylan Parzyk equaled the number of hits Kansas had on Friday with a liner, then Jared Schweitzer gave KU its fourth base knock with a drive past shortstop. But Kansas couldn't do anything with the two singles.

The Tigers went down in order in the top of the fourth.

John Allman picked up KU's fifth hit, but the Jayhawks again couldn't feed off of the single.

MU tied the game in the top of the fifth when Brock Bond singled to right to bring in Jacob Priday, who also singled. The Tigers then took a 2-1 lead when KU's Jared Schweitzer flipped the ball to second on a close play where the MU baserunner was ruled safe. With two outs, Schweitzer could have thrown to first -- where it seemed the easier play might have been.

Schweitzer then fielded another grounder but was way off the mark on his flip to Ritchie Price. Third baseman Erik Morrison was there for the back-up and threw home to gun down a sliding Brock Bond. Bond got up, threw his helmet as well as argued with the umpire, and was then ejected from the contest.

Kansas then went down in order in the bottom half of the inning.

KU brought in reliever Andy Marks with one out, and two on in the sixth. Marks recorded one out, before KU coach Ritch Price brought in Brendan McNamara. Jacob Priday had an infield single, but Derek Chambers flew out to center to end the threat.

KU's Jared Schweitzer laid down a bunt to start the bottom of the sixth and reached safely when MU reliever David Cales had an error on his throw to first. Tiger first baseman Derek Chambers stretched for the throw but pulled his foot off the bag. When the umpired ruled Schweitzer was safe, an animated Chambers argued and MU coach Tim Jamieson came out of the dugout to argue.

Preston Land walked, but John Allman grounded out to end the inning.

Ritchie Price made a nice play deep in the hole to get the Jayhawks out of the inning with two Tigers on base.

A weird play occurred with two outs in the seventh, when Brock Simpson struck out swinging. The ball apparently hit Simpson after he swung, making it a dead ball. The crowd at Hoglund thought MU's catcher dropped the ball, encouraging the jogging Simpson to sprint to first. The umpires sorted the situation out and ruled Simpson out.

KU closer Don Czyz came in the eighth, gave up one hit, but got out of the inning without giving up a run.

Jayhawk Erik Morrison gave KU a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the eight when he slammed a two-run homer over the outstretched glove of MU left-fielder Hunter Mense. Morrison's shot scored Ritchie Price, who led off the inning with a single.

Preston Land and John Allman each singled, but a groundout by Justin Ellrich ended the inning. KU scored two runs on four hits.

MU's Kyle Mach reached first on an error by Matt Berner, who was put into start the ninth. Hunter Mense singled to left. Trevor Helms' bunt attempt popped up in the air where Jared Schweitzer caught it for the first out of the inning. Pinch hitter Ryan Lollis struck out swinging. Gary Arndt hit a towering fly to left, but John Allman made a spectacular diving catch up against the wall to record the out and preserve KU's 3-2 win.


Kansas University's baseball team's bats were silenced Friday night when Missouri starter Nathan Culp allowed just three hits in MU's 3-0 win. Today the Jayhawks might see more of the same when Mizzou All-American Max Scherzer - who could go as high as No. 1 overall in the 2006 MLB Draft - takes the mound at Hoglund Ballpark.

"The last time we saw him, he was really special," said KU coach Ritch Price whose squad fell to 18-11 overall and 2-5 in the Big 12 with Friday's loss.

"I think we're a good fastball-hitting team," Price continued, "so we'll find out (today)."

Missouri (16-9 overall, 6-1 Big 12) will face KU starter Ricky Fairchild, who has a 4-2 record and 4.30 ERA.


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