K-State Opens Home Slate with Western Illinois
K-State Opens Home Slate with Western Illinois
March 3, 2011
Friday, March 4 - Sunday, March 6
Manhattan, Kan. /// Tointon Family Stadium (2,331)
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State opens its 2011 home schedule and the longest homestand of the year this weekend with a four-game series against Western Illinois, Friday-Sunday, March 4-6, at Tointon Family Stadium. The series kicks off on Friday with a 3 p.m. first pitch, which includes a special pregame ceremony with the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment “Rangers” of Fort Riley. The series continues on Saturday with a doubleheader beginning at 1 p.m., while the weekend finale is slated for Sunday with another 1 p.m. first pitch.
A live webcast of all four games against the Leathernecks is available through K-State’s multimedia channel, K-State All-Access at www.k-statesports.com. Free live audio of all four games is also available at www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com, while the entirety of Friday’s and Sunday’s games and parts of Saturday’s doubleheader can be heard in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN.
The Wildcats enter the weekend with a 5-2 record, which includes a 2-2 showing last week at the Baseball at the Beach tournament in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The Cats began the weekend on Thursday scoring four runs in the eighth inning to erase a three-run deficit and defeat No. 17 Coastal Carolina, 5-4. The victory gave the Wildcats their first 4-0 start since 1996.
K-State dropped a contest to Western Kentucky, 11-3, on Friday, but came back to defeat Pacific for the fourth time this season, 6-2, on Saturday. The Wildcats ended the weekend on a down note as they dropped their final contest in South Carolina to No. 17 California, 8-1.
Kyle Hunter kept the Wildcats in the contest Thursday against the Chanticleers as K-State did not score its first run until the sixth inning. Hunter worked six strong innings, allowing just two runs on three hits with a career-high tying seven strikeouts against a CCU squad that was coming off its second NCAA Super Regional in the past three seasons.
Another junior starter, Justin Lindsey, also gave K-State a solid start on Saturday against Pacific after being ill on the trip just two days prior. In a predetermined pitch-count start, Lindsey took the win as he allowed a run in the first inning, but settled down to allow just one more hit over the next three frames.
Much like the opening-weekend at Pacific, the K-State was a tough out at times throughout the weekend, including its four-run eighth inning against Coastal Carolina. Jake Brown started the inning with a bunt single before two hard-hit balls that resulted in errors brought home the tying and winning runs. The Cats also tallied their first two home runs of the season on Friday and Saturday when junior-college transfer Wade Hinkle hit a three-run shot in the first inning against Western Kentucky before Jason King essentially put Pacific away on Saturday with a three-run homer of his own.
DID YOU KNOW
• K-State baseball is the only team in the Big 12 among baseball, football, men’s and women’s basketball, and volleyball programs to continually improve its conference finish over the past five seasons.
• Head coach Brad Hill entered 2011 sixth in the nation among active coaches with a .714 career winning percentage.
• Prior to the 2009 season, Kansas State was 63 games under .500 in program history. After going 85-42-1 over the past two-plus seasons, the Wildcats are now 20 games under .500 all-time.
• K-State has the third-most drafted players on its roster in the Big 12 with eight, behind only Texas (16) and Oklahoma St. (12).
• Nick Martini has reached base in 66 straight contests dating back to the beginning of last season. Of those 66 games, the junior has at least one hit in 58 contests.
• Since his transition back to the bullpen last season, Evan Marshall has a 2.83 ERA and a .201 opponent batting average. He has also averaged 5.5 strikeouts per nine innings and just 2.25 walks per nine innings.
• James Allen already has three saves this season after nine a year ago. With 18 career saves, the junior ranks in the top 10 nationally and is third in K-State history.
• Kansas State was one of only three teams nationally to earn a three-game road sweep during the opening weekend.
FORT RILEY FESTIVITIES HIGHLIGHT HOME OPENER
The Kansas State’s partnership with Fort Riley will take a giant leap forward Friday as the Wildcats host the 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment “Rangers” of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
The festivities include the unveiling of the unit’s diamond logo on the outfield wall, a mass reenlistment of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, a ceremonial first pitch by Captain Walter Gray and a performance of the national anthem by Staff Sergeant Tiffany Monnett, while over 2,100 soldiers and family members will be in attendance for Friday’s contest.
Friday’s events are the culmination of a partnership three years in the making, including shared activities over the past two years. Since the beginning of the 2009-10 academic year, the K-State baseball program has traveled to Fort Riley twice to go through physical training sessions, take a tour of facilities, and view a demonstration of and practice with simulated weapons.
During the 2010 season, the “Rangers” attended several contests in support of the Wildcats, while they took batting practice with K-State prior to a contest two seasons ago.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Kansas State will be looking for continued success in home openers on Friday as the Wildcats are 8-2 in their last 10 home openers, including wins in four of the last five seasons.
Overall, the Wildcats have been difficult to defeat at Tointon Family Stadium as they have won at least 20 home games in four of the last six seasons, including a 45-13 (.776) mark over the past two years. K-State’s home record is even more impressive in non-conference games as the Cats are 29-2 (.935) since 2009, including a perfect 18-0 mark two years ago.
WESTERN ILLINOIS AT A GLANCE
Western Illinois will try to right the ship this weekend against Kansas State as the Leathernecks enter the weekend with a 1-6 record. WIU is coming off a 1-3 series at Georgia State in Atlanta in which it dropped Friday’s game, 3-0, a Saturday doubleheader by scores of 8-7 (12) and 11-5 (7) before coming back on Sunday to pick up its first victory of the season in an 8-2 victory.
The Leathernecks are led offensively by junior outfielder Matt Igara, who is 8-for-30 (.267) with two doubles and five RBI to open the season. Behind him is another junior outfielder in Ryan Cowhey at .250 (6-for-24) with a three doubles and three RBI. Cowhey helped Western Illinois pick up its victory on Sunday by going 3-for-5 with a double and a RBI.
Western Illinois plans to start a trio of right-handers in Dustin Hunter on Friday, and Ryan Wachholder and Chris Fuchs on Saturday. The Leathernecks have not announced a starter for Sunday, but could use junior right-hander Dan Russell.
Hunter, a right-hander, is 0-1 with a 7.71 ERA in three appearances, including one start. The junior earned his first start last Friday at Georgia State and took a tough-luck loss as he allowed just one run on one hit with two strikeouts in 5.1 innings, but did allow five walks in the contest.
Wachholder, another righty, is also 0-1 with a 7.00 ERA in two starts. Last week against the Panthers, Wachholder took a no decision after surrendering five runs on eight hits with a pair of walks and no strikeouts through 4.0 innings in a game the Leathernecks eventually lost in 12 innings.
Like Hunter and Wachholder, Fuchs is also a right-hander that is 0-1 on the young season. Sunday marks Fuchs’ first start of the year after two relief appearances, including last Saturday’s extra-inning game in which he allowed an unearned run on one hit with a walk and two strikeouts in 3.1 innings.
THE WESTERN ILLINOIS SERIES
Kansas State and Western Illinois have met 10 previous times, with the Wildcats holding an 8-2 advantage. The last meeting between the two teams came in 2004 in Iola, Kan., as the series was shifted from Manhattan to the campus of Allen County Community College due to snow. K-State swept a doubleheader by counts of 9-5 and 9-8 before the Leathernecks came back the next day for a 12-11 victory. The two programs met in Manhattan the previous two seasons as the Wildcats swept a four-game series in 2002 and a two-game set in 2003. The first meeting between the two programs came in 1988 when Kansas State won a 10-7 contest in Springfield, Ill.
IF YOU BUILD IT...
After single-game and single-season attendance records in 2009, fans returned to the see the Wildcats again in 2010. Kansas State reset all three attendance records in 2010 as it drew 46,290 total fans in 27 home games, over 3,000 more than 2009. That number averaged out to a school-best 1,714 fans, 323 more than the previous record set in 2009, while a new single-game record was set on March 30 against Wichita State when 4,745 fans pack the house to see K-State defeat WSU.
K-State’s regular-season average ranked sixth in the Big 12 and 36th nationally despite having the second-smallest listed capacity in the league. Taking stadium capacities into account, Kansas State filled 73.5-percent of its stadium on average, which ranked second in the league to Texas.
The 2010 Nebraska series also set the stadium record for attendance in a three-game series at 8,540, topping the 2009 Texas Tech series (7,491). In fact, three of K-State’s most-attended series in stadium history occurred in 2010 as the Cats drew 7,367 against Texas (third) and 6,506 vs. Baylor (fourth).
K-State’s play against non-conference opponents over the past two-plus seasons has fueled the Wildcats to quick starts. After going 5-2 in the first seven games of 2011, Kansas State is 165-56 (.746) in non-conference games under head coach Brad Hill, including a 57-19 (.750) mark since 2009.
In regular season non-conference games, the Cats have been even tougher as they are 157-45 (.777) over the past seven years and a combined 51-12 (.810) over the past two-plus seasons.
RELIEVERS RISE TO THE OCCASION
The core of Kansas State’s bullpen in juniors Evan Marshall, Kayvon Bahramzadeh and James Allen have been nearly untouchable to begin the season. The trio, which has three appearances apiece, have combined to go 3-0 with a 3.17 ERA and three saves, while they have a 14-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio and have limited opponents to a .196 average.
The effectiveness of Marshall, Bahramzadeh and Allen is even better if you take out the contest against California last Sunday, which scored 29 runs on 39 hits in its three games at the Baseball at the Beach tournament. In the first six games of the season, the Wildcat trio posted a 1.87 ERA and surrendered just seven hits in 49 at-bats, good for a .143 opponent batting average.