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HILL CONCERNED ABOUT LACK OF BASE RUNNERS

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By Mark Janssen

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Scoring runs wins baseball games, but to score runs one first needs base runners.

In Wildcat coach Brad Hill's eyes, that's been one of the problems for Kansas State this spring as the 175 runs scored for the total season ranks eighth in the Big 12, and its 47 runs scored in the 12 league games only averages to just under four runs per game.

If there's a telling statistic to K-State's 19-13 overall record, and in particular 4-8 Big 12 mark, it's the league-low on-base percentage of .326 heading into this weekend's series at Nebraska. The three-game series has been altered due to anticipated poor weather with games now starting on Saturday at 3 p.m., followed by games at 1 p.m. on Sunday and Monday.

"You'd like to see that (on-base percentage) over .400, but I think we have only one player over .400," said Hill in reference to Nick Martini (.465). "We have several in the .200s, which just isn't acceptable."

Among those players with at least 50 at-bats, three Wildcats are in the .200s, while four others are under .350.

A year ago when K-State went 37-22, and K-State's on-base percentage was .426 with six regulars over the .400 mark, which included Martini at .509.

K-State is hitting .250 in league play and .263 for the total season with only Martini (.330) with an average of over .300 among the regulars.

"I thought we improved against Texas A&M, but then we took a step back against Oklahoma last weekend," said Hill. "There's really not a common theme. We're not very competitive at times, and at times we're not very mature at the plate.

"We have some guys swinging just because it's a strike, but not necessarily their strike," said Hill. "At times we're over aggressive, and at times we're not aggressive enough."

HUGE SERIES WITH HUSKERS: With eight of the 10 Big 12 teams trying to qualify for the Big 12 Tournament, this weekend in Lincoln, Neb., it will be eighth-place K-State (4-8) taking on ninth-place Nebraska (3-6).

On the importance of the series, Hill said, "I don't even know what the standings are. We just want to play well enough to win this weekend, and then go play even better next weekend. The worst thing we could do right now is look at the standings."

Overall, the Cornhuskers are 22-13, which includes a 5-4 victory over Wichita State on Tuesday, while the Wildcats are 19-13, which includes a 7-6 loss to Creighton on Tuesday and a 5-2 victory over the Shockers on Wednesday.

In Big 12 action this year, NU has gone 1-2 against Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Kansas, while K-State has gone 2-1 with Oklahoma, and 1-2 against Baylor and Texas A&M, and 0-3 versus Texas.

HONORS FOR WILDCATS: K-State's Kyle Hunter and Jared King were named the Big 12 Pitcher and Co-Newcomer of the Week for their efforts against Oklahoma last weekend.

Hunter became the first K-State pitcher to win the award since A.J. Morris in 2009. He pitched K-State to a 2-0 victory, which was the Wildcats' first shutout of the Sooners in 21 years. Hunter pitched 7.2 innings and allowed just four hits to an OU team that entered the game hitting .337.

King went 5-for-10 with two-hit games on Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday he had a two-run single in a pivotal five-run inning.

BIG 12 STANDINGS: Texas 9-3, Texas A&M 9-3, Oklahoma State 8-4, Oklahoma 6-5, Kansas 6-6, Texas Tech 5-7, Baylor 5-7, K-State 4-8, Nebraska 3-6, Missouri 1-7.

WILDCAT NOTES:
Brad Hill has 249 victories heading into play this weekend. He would join only Mike Clark (435 wins from 1987-2003) as a Wildcat diamond coach with at least 250 wins.

Nick Martini's NCAA record for most consecutive games getting on base is now at 92 games. It's a run that dates back to the last game of the 2009 season.

Jason and Jared King make up the only set of brothers to homer in the same game this season. They did so against Texas A&M.


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