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Archive for Sunday, February 22, 2004

Kansas baseball home opener set for today

February 22, 2004

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The last time Kansas University's baseball team played Creighton was during the 2000 season.

Fifth-year senior Ryan Baty was just a freshman, and the Bluejays swept a three-game series from the Jayhawks.

Since then, games have been scheduled every year between the two clubs -- two in 2001, two in 2002, one in 2003 -- but all five have been canceled because of rain or snow.

Heck, they were supposed to play Saturday at Creighton, but that game was canceled a week ago after more than 20 inches of snow smothered the Omaha, Neb., school's campus.

So, just how badly does Kansas want to play its 1 p.m. game against Creighton today at Hoglund Ballpark?

"We were out there for two days with shovels to get all the snow and ice off the field," said Baty, KU's first baseman. "It was just one of those necessary evils we had to do so that we're able to play this next week."

Kansas (7-7-1) practiced outdoors Wednesday for the first time in a month. Coach Ritch Price said the inability to prepare outside had played a factor in KU's slow start this season, but he also stressed it was an unacceptable excuse.

Creighton has been stuck indoors, too. So have upcoming opponents Oakland (Mich.), Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Ark-ansas-Little Rock, Oral Roberts and Western Illinois. Price said that put KU on a level playing field with its foes for the next 14 games leading up to Big 12 Conference play.

Price wants his squad to start finishing games. Last year the Jayhawks were 27-2 in games where they led after the seventh inning. This season they've let late leads slip away four times.

"We've got to stop giving games away," Price said. "I told my guys at this point in time I'm disappointed where we're at. I understand that there have been some tough conditions to deal with, but part of our expectation is we need to find ways to get it done, and we haven't done that. I told them, in my opinion, we've underachieved in the first 15 games."

Thirteen of KU's next 14 games are at home.

"It's time for us to get in a groove and get going right now," Baty said. "It's a great time for us to go on a nine-, 10-game win streak and go into the Big 12 on an roll."

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