From Rock Chalk Talk. This has the makings of a great baseball series. If you are in the Lawrence area you could spend your weekend in worse ways than catching a game (or three) at Hoglund Park on the KU campus. There will be a lot of prospects on display. Plus, this is Kansas vs. Missouri. These teams will come to play.
Kansas Jayhawks (29-22, 8-13) vs. Missouri (32-16, 11-10)
Kansas host Missouri for a three game series this weekend. There is absolutely no need to hype this series. Anytime Missouri and Kansas play fans and players know what to expect.
Friday 6PM: Nick Czyz (2-5, 6.09 ERA) vs. Aaron Crow (10-0, 3.08 ERA)
Saturday 6PM: Andres Esquibel (3-4, 5.37) vs. Kyle Gibson (7-1, 3.84)
Sunday 1PM: T.J. Walz (4-0, 4.34) vs. Rick Zagone (1-3, 5.40)
Media: KLWN AM-1320 will broadcast all three games live. For those outside the Lawrence area steaming audio and video will be available through this site. The Friday night game will be broadcast live on KUJH-TV (Sunflower 31)
I will leave scouting reports on individual players to Aman - the Tigers have a few very impressive prospects. If you like to catch future pros while they are still playing at the college level definitely make time for the Friday and Saturday night games. Aaron Crow, the Tigers Friday night pitcher, will go very early this June. The Royals may take him with the #3 overall pick.
The Missouri Tigers are a good baseball team, but not a great team. Their parts are greater then their whole. They have several stars but overall their roster is more shallow than that of Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Texas, Baylor and Nebraska. I believe this is the reason the Tigers were upset in mid-week games by low ranked teams several times this season - Minnesota, Western Illinois and Southern Illinois. When Crow or Gibson are on the mound, they can beat anyone in the nation. The other two or three games they play that week, the Tigers are a pretty average NCAA team. In Big-12 series the Tigers record on Fridays is 6-1, on Saturdays 4-3, on Sunday they fall to 1-6. When Crow or Gibson pitch the Tigers have a Runs Against average of 3.8, when anyone else is pitching the average grows to 6.3. It is an unbalanced team. Most days they have only one path to victory, a strong start by one of their stud pitchers.
Offensively Missouri and KU match up pretty evenly. MU is averaging 7.3 runs scored per contest, although these numbers are inflated due to their 31-12 victory over Texas in a game played in 40mph wind gusts. If that game is factored out I think we get a more realistic view of what the Tigers produce on a given night, 6.8 runs, just below Kansas' 7.0 average. The Tigers have two terrific bats in their line-up, Aaron Senne and Jacob Priday. These two players have accounted for more than half the team's total homeruns (26 of 44). Overall Missouri is a bit more patient than Kansas at the plate. They rely on high batting average and the power of Senne and Priday. KU is more physical and aggressive top to bottom. With the games being played at Hoglund KU has an edge here.
Wrapping it up - The Sunday match up favors KU, so the key for the Hawks will be scratching out a win on either Friday or Saturday. If KU can find a way to get to Crow and/or Gibson and score a few runs, if Czyz and/or Esquibel provide effective starts, the Hawks have an excellent chance of winning this series. If Friday's game goes badly for the Hawks they have to put it out of their mind quickly and come back with fire for the next two games. Few teams have had any success against Crow, he is a special pitcher but he can only factor into one of the three games this weekend. Kansas probably needs to win two of their remaining six conference games to be assured of an invite to the Big-12 tournament. Here is hoping they get both of them this weekend.