Three wins in three tries, and looking to make it four.
That’s where the Kansas University baseball team stands entering tonight’s 5:30 contest against archrival Missouri at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
“That’s one of those things that we pride ourselves on, trying to beat them every year,” KU junior Zac Elgie said. “Especially there.”
The Jayhawks (12-16 overall, 4-5 in Big 12) are 3-0 all-time against the Tigers (13-15, 1-4) at “The K.” That includes a victory in last year’s defensive battle, in which then-freshman Thomas Taylor pitched 5 2⁄3 innings, giving up just two hits and no runs. In all, the Jayhawks limited the Tigers to three hits in the 1-0 win. Taylor, a native of Overland Park, is slated to start again tonight.
KU won all four games against Mizzou last year, none closer than the one-run game at Kauffman. KU’s lone run in that one came via an RBI single off the bat of James Stanfield in the second inning, and, last weekend, Stanfield talked about the emotions that go along with playing at a major-league park.
“Before the game, you’re pretty amped up,” he said. “But then, for me at least, once the game starts it kind of all slows back down and is just a game. The crowd and everything definitely gets you all pumped up, but it doesn’t get you out of your head or get you too crazy about it.”
Added Elgie: “Playing in Kauffman’s awful fun. My first two years here, there hasn’t been anything better.”
Tonight’s game against Mizzou will be the second in a five-game week for the Jayhawks. After taking two of three from No. 19 Baylor last weekend, KU lost to Missouri State at home Tuesday night and will jump back into Big 12 play for one with Missouri before welcoming Nebraska to town for a three-game, weekend series. Although tonight’s game is against Big 12 competition, it will not count toward either team’s conference record. The regular-season series between the two rivals is set for April 15-17 at Missouri.
The Tigers enter tonight’s one-game showdown with the sour taste of a weekend sweep by Texas fresh on their minds.
While the Jayhawks are charging toward evening their record at .500, Elgie and Stanfield admitted that there’s something special about playing in the home park of the Kansas City Royals.
“Going into Kauffman, if you can’t get pumped up for that game, there’s something wrong,” Stanfield said.
Added Elgie: “I remember the first time when I walked in there. You’re just kind of like, ‘Wow. This is incredible.’ You’re kind of in shock at first. But then you get into the same routine, batting practice, take infield and outfield, and it’s the same thing when you’re in between the lines. It’s awful big on the outside, but it’s the same game. It’s such a fun environment, and there’s usually quite a few people there, so hopefully we can get another win (tonight).”