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ARMS SET TO BE THE STORY WITH 'CATS, AGGIES

By Mark Janssen

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Will it be the first team to two that wins?

Don't think the notion is too far-fetched when Kansas State welcomes in No. 6 Texas A&M this weekend for games at 6:30 tonight, 4 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday at Tointon Family Stadium.

While K-State is 15-9 overall and only 1-5 to start Big 12 play in series against Texas and Baylor, eighth-year coach Brad Hill says of the starting pitching efforts of Kyle Hunter, Matt Applegate and Kayvon Bahramzadeh, "We've had six quality starts. Since I've been here, we've never had six starts like that in a row. They're giving us all we can ask, but we're falling apart in other parts of the game."

Entering the weekend, Hunter is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA, Applegate 3-1 with a 2.89 and Bahramzadeh 1-0 with a 3.43.

"They've pitched well enough for us to be undefeated, but we've seen how one mistake late in the game can beat you, and it has," said Hill, who has seen his team lose leads in four games, which has resulted in three extra-inning losses. "Good teams are going to capitalize on late-game mistakes, and we've been playing good teams."

Texas A&M (20-5, 5-1) has given up a hard to believe total of just seven runs in its six Big 12 games against Oklahoma (0-1, 11-1, 5-2) and Kansas (2-1, 11-1 and 3-1).

The Aggies are expected to send John Stilson (1-1, 1.05), Michael Wacha (4-1, 0.60) and Ross Stripling (5-1, 0.76) to the mound at K-State. Together, they have an astonishing 130 strikeouts compared to just 22 walks. Against those hurlers, teams have hit a respective .216, .209 and .174.

"Those are first-rounders throwing on Friday and Saturday," said Hill in reference to Stilson and Wacha. "What they've done is scary. They've just been dominating on the mound. You have two guys who have been getting them to the seventh or eighth inning each time out."

Of Stilson, Hill says, "He has velocity and command. He can throw 96 to 98, and then has a devastating changeup."

And of Wacha, he adds, "He's in the low-90s and has a nasty slider."

FACING THOSE PITCHERS: A&M is hitting at a .291 clip at the plate with a team total of 10 home runs, while K-State is hitting a collective .265 with just eight homers 24 games into the season.

Nick Martini is K-State's hitting leader at .329, while next in line are middle infielders Jake Brown and Tanner Witt at .286 and .280, respectively.

The Wildcats have scored just 21 runs in six Big 12 games, and have plated runs in only 11 of the 50 innings played in conference action.

While losing the series to Texas 3-0 and to Baylor 2-1, Hill said, "I thought we played better against Baylor, but we just don't have much to show for it. But we played with a little more passion, intensity and toughness. We were focused on winning games and didn't get caught up in outside distractions.

"But again, our play shows how one play can beat you, and it did," said Hill. "It shows we can play pretty well, but still lose two games."

MARTINI STREAKING: Martini brings a remarkable run of 84 consecutive games of getting on base at least once with a hit, walk or hit by pitch. It's the longest current streak in the nation and is within two games of what is believed to be the NCAA record of 86-straight games by Elon's Cory Harrilchak from April 4, 2008, to May 21, 2009.

Martini reached base in the final game of the 2009 season, in all 59 games in 2010, and now the first 24 games this season

"That's pretty remarkable," said Hill. "It's a maturity thing for him. He has a great awareness for the strike zone and has a good fundamental swing. He knows how to handle the whole zone. He doesn't swing at bad pitches, and he's not opposed to taking a walk."

BIG 12 CONFERENCE:
Rankings - Four Big 12 teams are in the national rankings this week with No. 6 Texas A&M, No. 8 Texas, No. 10 Oklahoma and No. 19 Baylor.

Standings - Texas A&M 5-1, Texas 4-2, Texas Tech 4-2, Oklahoma State 3-3, Baylor 3-3, Missouri 1-1, Oklahoma 2-3, Kansas 2-4, Nebraska 1-2, K-State 1-5

Weekend lineup - Texas A&M at K-State, Missouri at Texas, Baylor at Kansas, Texas Tech at Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State at Nebraska.


We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen at mjanssen7@cox.net, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at klannou@kstatesports.com. For those who would like to share Sports Extra with a friend or family member, or change your current email address, click here.