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Archive for Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Midweek wins big help to Jayhawks’ RPI

April 25, 2006

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If this is late April, then it's a cinch college baseball coaches around the country have one eye on the diamond and the other on the RPI.

That includes Kansas University's Ritch Price as the Jayhawks prepare for the Best of the Midwest Tournament in Kansas City, Kan.

"Right now, our RPI is in the Top 40 and, if we lose these games, it'll go down," Price said. "It's important we continue our momentum."

What Price means is that the Jayhawks can't afford to overlook today's game against Southeast Missouri State and Wednesday's outing against Creighton, both at 3 p.m. at CommunityAmerica Ballpark. This is the second year for the Best of the Midwest round-robin tourney hosted by the Kansas City Sports Commission and the Kansas City T-Bones, an independent pro team. Missouri and Kansas State also are participating in the two-day meet.

"It's a great, great venue," Price said. "It's fun for our players. The atmosphere is great. It makes the game special."

After losing four of its first five Big 12 Conference games, Kansas (29-16) has rebounded, and the Jayhawks now are 9-9 in league play and tied for fourth place with Baylor. They'll return to conference competition this weekend against Oklahoma at Hoglund Ballpark.

Brendan McNamara (1-1, 3.26 earned-run average), a junior-college transfer right-hander, will start today's game against Southeast Missouri State. Price will use freshman left-hander Nick Czyz (2-1, 5.53), younger brother of ace closer Don Czyz, on the mound against Creighton on Wednesday.

Southeast Missouri (24-32) has a losing record, but the Redhawks have posted wins over Missouri in Columbia, Mo. (9-5) and at home in Cape Girardeau, Mo. (3-2).

Today's game will be a reunion for KU shortstop Ritchie Price and Southeast Missouri catcher Levi Olson. The two were high school teammates in San Luis Obispo, Calif. Price came to Kansas when his dad left the Cal Poly baseball job to take over on Mount Oread.

Meanwhile, Price's brother and keystone partner Ryne, who has played in only 13 of KU's 35 games, remains on the injured list because of wrist woes.

"He had the stitches removed," the elder Price said. "We're hoping to get him back in two weeks."

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