March 6, 2009
EVANSTON, Ill. -
Northwestern aims to get back on track as it travels to Lawrence, Kan., to face Kansas this weekend in a four-game series. The teams will play a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m. Friday followed by single games Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Wildcats have posted consecutive 1-3 records in each of the first two weekends of the season. NU competed in the RussMatt Central Florida Invite in Winter Haven, Fla., last weekend, splitting a pair of games with Massachusetts before dropping a doubleheader to Northeastern. A run in the top of the eighth inning gave the Minutemen a 4-3 win in Friday's opening game. The 'Cats bounced back the following day, scoring twice in both the seventh and eighth innings to earn a 7-6 victory. Tommy Finn, Paul Snieder and Tony Vercelli each homered in the game for NU.
Northwestern wasn't quite as fortunate against Northeastern. After dropping the opening game 6-4, the Wildcats appeared to be in complete control in the nightcap. Junior left-hander Joe Muraski allowed just two hits through the first six innings as NU led 3-0 going into the bottom half of the seventh and final frame. Muraski was lifted after the leadoff batter reached base and the Wildcats were unable to finish the game off. UMass tied the game on a three-run double and then got the winning tally on a bases-loaded walk.
Junior designated hitter Kenneth Avila continues to lead Northwestern with a .481 batting average and a .545 on-base percentage. Freshman first baseman Paul Snieder is batting .350, including going 5-for-9 with two doubles, a triple and a homer last weekend.
Scouting Kansas (Northwestern leads series, 3-1)
The Jayhawks (4-3) are coming off a pair of mid-week wins over North Dakota. Senior catcher Buck Afenir leads Kansas with a .439 batting average. Sophomore third baseman Tony Thompson enters play this weekend with a 16-game hitting streak dating back to last season. Junior left-hander Shaeffer Hall, who is scheduled to be the starter in the first game of Friday's doubleheader, sports a 1-0 record with a 1.29 ERA. Opposing batters are batting just .130 against him. Kansas returns 17 letterwinners from last year's squad which went 30-27 overall and 9-18 in Big 12 play. The Jayhawks edged Northwestern 12-11 in a wild contest March 23 of last season in Bradenton, Fla. Jake Goebbert had four hits and drove in six runs in the game for the Wildcats.