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K-State Baseball Celebrates Senior Day

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K-State's Ross Kivett throws to first base against Baylor at Tointon Family Stadium in Manhattan, Kansas on April 17, 2014. (Scott D. Weaver/K-State Athletics)

May 17, 2014
By Kelly McHugh

This afternoon in Tointon Family Stadium, K-State baseball and its fans will celebrate the careers of four special players. 

With first pitch set for 6:30 p.m., against the Texas Longhorns, seniors Blair DeBord, Ross Kivett, Jared Moore and RJ Santigate will continue play in their final series on their home turf.

After last night's 12-0 loss, the seniors will lead the Wildcats two final times with this evening's game and Sunday's season finale at 3:30 p.m.

This year's four seniors have helped K-State reach multiple NCAA Regionals, win its first conference title in 80 years and go on to the program's first ever Super Regional. So now, towards the end of an era, the group has a lot to reflect back on.

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"Everybody always says it goes by fast and then when you finally get here, it really did go so fast," explained Santigate. "I've been doing a little reflecting lately, and it's just more and more as the games wind down."

The third baseman transferred to K-State from Central Arizona College prior to the 2012 season and has hit .298 in 161 games with 71 RBI and 28 stolen bases. He has played a key role in the Wildcats' success over the past two years where he has played in nearly every game and has made 141 career starts.

"It was a little tough at the first coming from big cities, it was a little bit of a culture shock," laughed Santigate, a native of Las Vegas, Nevada, "but I've really grown to love the community, the people - this is going to be a place that I miss."

Along with his success on the field, Santigate was named to the 2013 Academic All-Big 12 First Team and Academic All-District 7 team where he graduated with a degree in social science. Santigate is currently working on a degree in secondary education. 

"I'm trying to make the most with these last couple of games with these guys," continued Santigate. "That's what you'll miss the most, the group you're with. I'm just trying to take everything one pitch at a time, slow everything down and enjoy these last games."

Also taking things one pitch at a time is Moore, a left-handed pitcher. Though he's native of Boulder, Colorado, it didn't take Moore long to fall in love with K-State and the Manhattan community.

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"It's meant the world. I can't imagine being anywhere else," Moore said about his time at K-State. "These last four years have been such a great ride. I feel like I'm the luckiest guy on the face of the planet to get my degree here in such a nice, family-orientated town. To be able to put on the purple, the 'KS' and the Powercat every day - I know it's something a lot of people would love to experience."

So far this season, Moore has served as both a starter and a reliever. Since his freshman season in 2011, he has appeared in 77 games including 16 starts, earned a 12-7 record with a 4.45 ERA and has struck out 125 batters. He ranks fifth in K-State history in games pitched and sixth in relief appearances. 

Moore will graduate from K-State today with a degree in marketing and has received All-Big 12 Academic Team honors the past two years.

"It's a pretty crazy thing to know that I won't ever be able to play here again," said Moore as he glanced around Frank Myers Field. "It's been such a great experience for me."

A hometown hero, DeBord always dreamed of coming to K-State. Growing up in Manhattan, the catcher knew one day he wanted to be a part of the team that turned K-State Baseball around.

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"One of the reasons I came to here was because I wanted to put K-State on the map baseball wise," explained DeBord. "With last year's success, the preseason rankings we had this year and some of the personal stuff we've gone through, I feel like K-State is more relevant now. 

"Obviously this year didn't go how we wanted it to, but K-State now, because of our Big 12 Championship and going to the Super Regional, is more relevant. I mean, I played on ESPN last year. I never thought at K-State I would be able to do that. It's been a lot of fun and K-State will always have a special spot in my heart."

During his five years at K-State, DeBord - who redshirted the 2011 season due to injury - has left a lasting impression by starting 192 games and batting .294 with 104 RBI. In 2013, he became the first K-State catcher in the history of the program to be named First Team All-Big 12 after hitting over .320 with 37 RBI. 

After last year's Big 12 Championship season, DeBord was named a Johnny Bench Award Semifinalist and selected to the All-Manhattan Regional team. 

"It's weird when it's rolling down to the last couple times you play at home," said DeBord. "It's a different feeling. It feels like yesterday I just got here as a freshman, but it's been a great ride - I wouldn't change a thing."

DeBord will also graduate today with a degree in marketing.

Finally, one of the greatest stories and arguably one of the greatest student-athletes in K-State Baseball history, K-Sate fans will bode farewell to 2013 Big 12 Player of the Year Ross Kivett, a versatile player from Broadview Heights, Ohio.

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After helping lead his team to last year's Big 12 title, Kivett could have packed his belongings and headed to the professional ranks with his hometown team, the Cleveland Indians, when he was chosen in the 10th round of the 2013 MLB Draft. However, he chose to finish his degree and his time at K-State putting his professional dreams on hold to stay in Manhattan one more year. 

During his years at K-State, Kivett has batted .323 with 79 stolen bases and 117 RBI in 223 career games. He has made an impact on the Wildcats' roster since his freshman season in 2011 and has started in 204 straight games. A 2013 All-American, Kivett became only the third player in program history to be named conference player of the year. He was also named All-Big 12 First Team, Manhattan Regional MVP, a Golden Spikes Award Candidate and Academic All-Big 12. 

"I think I focus most on just the time with my teammates," said Kivett about his final days with the Wildcats. "Evan Marshall just got called in to the big leagues, and he was one of the guys that kind of took me under his wing when I was a freshman. Seeing him and then seeing where he's at four years later, hopefully some of these guys feel the same way about me and hopefully I can be an Evan Marshall one day."

Kivett has inked his way into K-State's record book as, going into today's game, he is first in stolen bases, second in games played, fourth in hits, tied for fourth in runs scored, fifth in hit-by-pitch and tied for seventh in triples. He captured the K-State record for career stolen bases with his 79th career steal in last night's third inning.

Recently named to the Academic All-District 7 team, Kivett is on track to graduate this December with a degree in communications.

As the page turns and these four seniors begin a new chapter in life, the impact they have left on the K-State baseball program will not be soon forgotten.

"This group has had some great, first-time accomplishments for our program and they're great examples for us to go back and utilize," said head coach Brad Hill. "We're going to go back and talk about Ross Kivett, Blair DeBord, R.J. Santigate and Jared Moore because of the things that they brought to the program, the strengths, the intangible things that they brought. They've been great representatives of our program in all facets." 

 

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 Kelly McHugh or K-State Assistant AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.