Cats Welcome Bison to Tointon Stadium

Games 14-16
Kansas State (11-2) vs. North Dakota State (2-2)

March 9 3 p.m.
March 10 2 p.m.
March 11 1 p.m.

Tointon Stadium (2,331)
Manhattan, Kan.

Radio:
None

Internet:
Live stats of all three games will be available at
k-statesports.com.

Series:
KSU leads the all-time series with North Dakota State, 5-0, as the Wildcats have won all five meetings between the two schools. Three of the wins came in 2005, while K-State was victorious twice last season.

Watch For: Byron Wiley
K-State sophomore Byron Wiley currently ranks among the top six players in the Big 12 Conference in three statistical categories this week and is 14-for-25 with nine RBI over the last seven games. Wiley has recorded six multi-hit games this season, including three or more hits in four of those contests. The centerfielder also has scored a run or driven in a run in 11 of the Wildcats’ 13 games this season.

Kansas State will play its first three-game home series of the 2007 season this weekend as North Dakota State heads to Tointon Stadium for weekend baseball action. Friday’s game is set to begin at 3 p.m., with the Saturday contest starting at 2 p.m. and first pitch for the series finale will be 1 p.m. on Sunday. North Dakota State has played just four games so far this season after having a season-opening series with Kansas cancelled due to weather, but the Bison enter the weekend with a 2-2 record after splitting a four-game series with Charleston Southern. K-State, which enters the weekend with an 11-2 overall record, continues to get strong pitching performances from both its starting pitchers and relievers, while the Wildcat offense has raised its season batting average over 40 points in the last seven games to its current .301 mark. The Wildcats are coming off a 2-1 weekend at the Lamar Classic and a two-game, mid-week sweep of Brigham Young which saw K-State play five games in five days, while the Cats are also in the midst of playing 13 games in a span of 17 days, which will end next weekend against Central Michigan. Last weekend, Kansas State recorded solid wins over St. John’s and Lamar in Beaumont, before dropping the tournament finale against Cal-Santa Barbara in 11 evenings. The Wildcats then came home and swept two games from Mountain West Conference leader Brigham Young with 5-1 and 6-3 wins at Tointon Stadium.

 Noteworthy
Since 2004, Kansas State is 78-18 in non-conference games and 44-12 in the month of March.
The Wildcats are 50-4 in home non-conference games under Brad Hill.
Under Brad Hill, Kansas State is 59-30 when its starting pitcher goes six-plus innings.
The Wildcats also are 73-8 under Hill when out-hitting their opponent.
The Cats are also 66-19-1 under Hill when recording 10 or more hits.
Over the last three-plus seasons, K-State is 83-5 when leading after seven innings and 65-21-2 when scoring first.
29 of the Wildcats’ 68 total RBI this season have come with two outs.
K-State’s bullpen this season is 6-1 with a 1.61 ERA in 44.2 innings of work.
K-State relievers are also 7-for-7 in save opportunities and have retired 22-of-28 first batters.
K-State starting pitchers have struck out 53 batters in 74 combined innings this season.
The K-State pitching staff has compiled a 2.1 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season.
K-State has outscored its opponent, 20-3, in the eighth and ninth innings this season.
K-State is 9-0 this season when out-hitting its opponent.
The Cats are 7-0 when leading after six innings, 8-0 when leading after seven and 10-0 after eight.
K-State is 11-1 when scoring three or more runs this season.
Shortstop Eli Rumler holds the K-State career hit-by-pitches record with 26.
Rumler also ranks eighth in school history with 12 career sacrifice bunts.
Defensively, Rumler also ranks seventh in school history with 331 career assists.
Pitcher Brad Hutt has won five of his last six starts, dating back to last season.
Closer Daniel Edwards has seven career saves, which ranks seventh in school history
Edwards has recorded a save or a win in each of his last six appearances and has 14 K’s in those 10.1 innings.

Scouting North Dakota State
North Dakota State is 2-2 overall after splitting a four-game series at Charleston Southern of the Big South Conference. NDSU’s starting pitchers combined to throw 26 1/3 innings last week, leaving just six innings to the bullpen. Veteran left-hander Jake Laber struck out nine and worked into the ninth inning of a 4-2 win last Friday, giving NDSU its first opening-game win since 2002. Matt Mossey had six strikeouts and carried a one-hitter into the seventh inning of a no-decision in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader. Mossey made the other three starts at shortstop and is leading the team with a .462 average with six hits in 13 at-bats, including two doubles and five RBI. North Dakota State had a season-opening series cancelled with Kansas and will play only its fifth game of the season on Friday.

The Series
Kansas State has had the upper hand in the overall series between the two schools. The Wildcats are 5-0 all-time against the Bison with three wins coming in 2005 and the other two last season, all of which were played in Manhattan. In the series, Kansas State has outscored North Dakota State, 66-12, including 20-0 in the last two meetings at Tointon Stadium.

Relief Efforts
Thirteen games into the 2007 season, K-State has seen its pitching staff put up gaudy numbers, especially the bullpen. The staff heads into the weekend with a 3.25 team ERA, which is fifth-best in the Big 12 Conference this week. More impressively, K-State’s relievers are 6-1 with a 1.61 ERA in 44.2 innings of work. In those 44.2 innings, pitchers have given up 33 hits and just nine runs while striking out 36 batters. Opponents are hitting just .210 against all Wildcat relievers this season. Eight total relievers have accumulated ERA’s of 3.00 or lower, six of which are 1.60 and under and three that have 0.00 ERA’s nine total appearances.

Saving The Day
K-State relievers have picked up seven saves so far this season out of 11 total wins and are a perfect 7-of-7 in those save opportunities. Daniel Edwards, who earned All-Tournament honors in Tampa with two saves, leads the team and is among the Big 12 leaders with four total this season. His seven career saves are also tied for the seventh-most in school history and needs just one more to move into fifth. Sophomore Trevor Hurley has also picked up two saves, while Jason Linn closed out a close win in the season opener. Edwards has earned saves in four of five appearances this season and has struck out 12 batters in his 8.1 innings of shutout work.

Start It Up
K-State continues to get solid pitching performances from its starters as eight of the 13 starters have gone six-plus innings in each of their starts this season. Brad Hutt is 3-0 with a 2.18 ERA and has lasted 6.2, 7.0 and 7.0 innings in his three starts, while Chase Bayuk has gone 6.0 in two of his three starts and Justin Murray 6.2 and 6.0 in two of his. On the year, K-State starters are 5-1 with a 4.24 ERA in 74.1 innings pitched.

Defense, Defense
Kansas State has set new school records in fielding percentage in each of the last two seasons and this year’s squad is on track to make a run at a third. So far through 13 games, the Wildcats are fielding at a .972 clip, which ranks third in the Big 12. The Wildcats are 6-2 this season when committing one or no errors in a game.

Put It In Neutral
Neutral sites have been good to the Wildcats so far this season as Kansas State is 7-1 when playing on a neutral field this year. The Cats won twice against Penn State in Shreveport before sweeping four games against Seton Hall, Ohio State and James Madison at the Yankee Player Development Complex in Tampa. Then, after a win over St. John’s in Beaumont, the Cats dropped an 8-6, 11-inning contest to Cal-Santa Barbara for their first loss at a neutral site this season.

Getting Offensive
Over the last seven games, Kansas State’s bats have gotten hot as the Cats raised their team batting average over 40 points from .260 to the current .301 mark. During that stretch, K-State has hit .336 with seven players hitting over .300 during that span. Tyler Link has hit .563 in the last seven games, while Byron Wiley has 14 hits in seven games for a .560 average.

Lord Byron
Sophomore outfielder Byron Wiley has provided some power to the middle of the order and has been the most consistent Wildcat at the plate this season. Wiley enters the week among the Big 12’s best in several offensive categories, including on-base percentage (2nd), batting (4th) and walks (6th). The Tomball, Texas, native leads the Wildcats in 12 different offensive categories and has had multiple hits in six games, while recording three or more hits on four different occasions.

Eli’s Coming
Senior Eli Rumler, one of two seniors on this year’s squad, made his 109th career start last weekend and is closing in on the record books in three more categories. Currently, Rumler holds the K-State career hit-by-pitches records with 26. Defensively, Rumler ranks seventh in career assists with 331 and needs 69 more to move into sixth. Rumler also has 12 career sacrifice bunts, which ranks eighth in school history. Rumler also has seen his batting average rise 123 points from last season as the senior hit .258 last season and heads into the weekend with a .381 mark through 13 games.

The Missing Link
Sophomore Tyler Link had a big weekend last weekend in Beaumont after going 6-for-9 in three games at the Lamar Classic to raise his current average to .467. Link has collected a team-high five bunt base-hits on the season and has added three infield singles on the season.

On the Brink
Sophomore Nate Tenbrink has come up with several key two-out hits over the last three games, including a three-run homer in the eighth inning of the Cal-Santa Barbara game. Tenbrink has entered the at-bat in a 1-for-27 drought but came through with a clutch hit to send the game into extra innings. Tenbrink also had a two-out, two-run single in a win over BYU and currently is four for his last six at the plate with five runs driven in, all coming with two outs.

Great Scott, Batman
The second base position has been a production spot on the field for the Wildcats through 13 games this season. Brett Scott has started eight games at second, Eddie Vasquez four starts and Tyler Link one. All three hitters are hitting over .300 with Link at .467, Scott at .375 and Vasquez at .304. Scott has driven in six runs to lead the group, while all three have combined for no defensive errors on 89 total chances.

Playing Sega
Redshirt freshman catcher Daniel Dellasega earned his first career start three weeks ago in Shreveport and went 2-for-4 at the plate in a win over Penn State. Then Dellasega with 3-for-4 in his second career start in a win over Ohio State. On the season, Dellasega is 7-for-17 (.412) and has hit safely in all four games played this season.

Friday Night Lights
Junior right-hander Brad Hutt came up big on the mound as a sophomore and has continued that trend in 2007 as the Friday starter for the Wildcats. Hutt, who was a two-time Big 12 Pitcher of the Week selection last season, tossed 6.2 shutout innings against Penn State in the opener, giving the Wildcats their first season-opening shutout since the 1998 season, and followed with seven strong innings in Tampa in a win over Seton Hall. Hutt, who was an All-Tournament selection in Tampa, is 3-0 this season, ranks fifth in the league in ERA at 2.18 and has gone six-plus innings in all three starts.

Bayuk Back For More
Junior left-hander Chase Bayuk came on strong at the end of the season as one of the Cats’ weekend starters and, after his first three starts of the 2007 season, is now 3-0 with a 2.65 ERA over his last eight starts. Bayuk has now only yielded six total runs in his last five starts and eight in his last six. In fact, Bayuk’s last loss on the mound came 10 starts ago when the Cats fell to Nebraska on April 2 of last year.

Justin Time
Sophomore pitcher Justin Murray had a solid freshman campaign as a long reliever during Big 12 play and so far this season has turned in three solid starting performances for the Cats. Murray currently leads the team with 19 strikeouts in 17.2 innings and has tied a career high with seven strikeouts in each of his last two outings. The sophomore earned his first win of the season in an 11-4 win over James Madison on February 24 in Tampa, Fla.

Two-Way Tyler
Freshman Tyler Ruch has made an instant impact for the Wildcats as a true freshman, and not in just one capacity. Ruch has been very effective out of the bullpen as a situational reliever, but also has started games at first base and seen several pinch-hit appearances. On the mound, Ruch has compiled a 1.35 ERA in five appearances and earned his first win on February 24 against Ohio State after 1.1 solid innings. Ruch has also been effective with first batters as four of the five first hitters he has faced in relief have been retired.

Hill Nearing Century Mark
Kansas State head coach Brad Hill is two wins away from picking up his 100th win as head coach of the Wildcat program. In three-plus seasons, Hill is 98-77-2 at Kansas State and is 517-168-2 overall as a head coach in 12-plus seasons. When Hill reaches the 100-win mark, he will need just 30 more wins to pass Bob Brasher as the fourth-winningest coach in KSU history. In fact, Hill currently needs just 40 more wins to move all the way up to second place on the chart and pass Phil Wilson for second place.

Young Faces, Key Roles
Kansas State, with 24 total underclassmen on its squad this season, has seen many of those newcomers make an immediate impact on the field. Six freshmen position players have seen action so far this season, while four freshmen pitchers have seen time on the mound. At the sophomore level, six position players have played key roles this season while four second-year pitchers have logged innings.

Youth Is Served
Kansas State fields one of the youngest teams in the Big 12 Conference this season, and with 34 players on the roster, 24 of those are underclassmen (13 freshmen and 11 sophomores). Nebraska and Baylor are the only two teams in the league that are comparable with 26 and 25, respectively. In terms of experience, the Wildcats boast two seniors, which are the fewest of any Big 12 team, and eight juniors to total 10 upperclassmen, which are the fewest in the Big 12 Conference.

Bulking Up
Kansas State has bulked up its non-conference schedule in 2007 as it prepares for tough three-game stretches in league play down the road. In fact, the Wildcats currently have the 48th-toughest schedule in the country according to Boyd’s World and heads into this weekend’s action with 16 games against teams that are ranked in this week’s Top 25. And, speaking of Boyd’s World, Kansas State checks in at No. 33 this week in the RPI ratings, which is fourth among Big 12 teams behind Texas (11), Oklahoma (18) and Texas A&M (29).

Wildcat Baseball on the Tube
Kansas State will have three of its 2007 baseball games air regionally on television as both the Big 12 Conference and the Kansas State Athletic Department announced their baseball television packages. The Big 12 has announced its six-game league package with Fox Sports Net and the May 5 Wildcat game at Kansas was one of the selections. First pitch for the game is set for 3 p.m. at Hoglund Ballpark in Lawrence with the entire Big 12 region gaining television access. K-State also announced two more home games, the March 31 tilt with Texas Tech and the April 3 game against Kansas, will be televised locally on Fox Sports Midwest. The game against Kansas, which is slated as a non-conference game, is set to begin at 7 p.m., while the Saturday game with the Red Raiders is set for a 2 p.m. first pitch at Tointon Stadium.