Kansas State Set for Matchup with Hartford
Kansas State Set for Matchup with Hartford
March 8, 2012
Friday, March 9 - Sunday, March 11
Manhattan, Kan. /// Tointon Family Stadium (2,331)
K-STATE: Brad Hill
Alma Mater: Emporia State
Career Record: 689-290-3 (18th season)
Record at K-State: 271-199-3 (9th season)
HARTFORD: Justin Blood
Alma Mater: Franklin Piece
Record at HART: Same
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Looking to bounce back from a midweek loss on Tuesday, Kansas State plays host to Hartford for a four-game series, Friday through Sunday, March 9-11, at Tointon Family Stadium. The series marks the first meeting between the Wildcats and Hawks. The weekend begins with a 3 p.m., first pitch on Friday before a doubleheader on Saturday beginning at 12 p.m. The series concludes on Sunday with an 11 a.m., first pitch, a game time that was moved up two hours to accommodate the Hawks' travel plans.
All four games against Hartford will be shown on K-StateHD.TV, which is available at www.k-statesports.com for $9.95 per month and $79.95 per year. Additionally, the entire series can be heard in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN and online at both www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com. General admission bench tickets to Friday's game are available for just $3, while Sunday marks the second Family Day of the season. Fans can purchase a Wildcat 4 Pack for $30 on Sunday, which includes four general admission bench tickets, four hot dogs, four drinks and four bags of chips, and all kids in attendance can run the bases after the game.
K-STATE AT A GLANCE
Kansas State will try to get back on the winning track after dropping a 9-6 decision at Nebraska on Tuesday. The Huskers recorded a pair of four-run innings and led 9-3 entering the eighth, but K-State battled back to score three runs in the frame before a line-drive out with the bases loaded ended the inning. The weekday matchup against the Huskers followed a series win over Pacific last weekend as the Cats dropped the first game, 7-2, but came back with a vengeance by winning Saturday, 12-1, and Sunday, 9-3.
The Wildcats have been on fire offensively as they rank third in the Big 12 with a .286 team batting average, just one point shy of second-place Oklahoma. Only three players in the Big 12 are hitting .400 or better, two of which wear purple as Jared King is second at .478 and Wade Hinkle is third at .410. The duo also ranks second and fifth, respectively, in hitting streaks as King is riding a career long eight-game streak, while Hinkle has a hit in six-straight.
King, who ranked in the top 30 nationally in three offensive categories following play last weekend, currently leads the Big 12 in hits per game (2.0), doubles (7) and total bases (34). Hinkle is third in the league in on-base percentage at .540 after reaching base in all five plate appearances at NU. The senior is also tied for fourth in RBI at 12.
Kansas State will use its same starting rotation this weekend as right-hander Matt Applegate will pitch on Friday, while left-hander Joe Flattery and right-hander Kayvon Bahramzadeh will toe the rubber in Saturday's doubleheader. The Wildcats are currently undecided on their starter for Sunday's contest. Applegate will be looking to pick up his first win this year after losses in his last two starts. Last week against Pacific, the senior allowed five runs on six hits with four walks and four strikeouts in four innings of work.
On the flip side, Flattery and Bahramzadeh are hitting their stride on the mound as each are on two-game winning streaks. Flattery allowed one Pacific run last weekend on five hits with no walks and a career-high four strikeouts in five innings of work. Bahramzadeh also notched a career high in strikeouts with eight last Sunday, while the senior did not allow a walk. Bahramzadeh also surrendered just one run on four hits in six innings.
DID YOU KNOW
Friday's contest against Hartford marks the 3,300th in program history.
The Cats are 217-16 when leading after seven frames during Brad Hill's eight-plus years in Manhattan.
K-State entered the week ranked fifth nationally in double plays turned (14).
The Wildcats' 15 runs and 21 hits on Feb. 25 against San Diego State are the most in the Big 12 this year.
K-State's four freshmen relievers have combined to retire 15-of-16 first batters faced this season.
Two of the three Big 12 players hitting over .400 this year are K-State's Jared King (.478) and Wade Hinkle (.410).
Jared King entered the week in the top 30 nationally in doubles (18th), batting average (26th) and hits (30th).
Senior Wade Hinkle has drawn eight walks in the first 11 games of 2012 after just 11 in 43 games played in 2011.
Sophomore Jared King has the most doubles (7) by a Wildcat to begin a season since Ryan Baldwin had 11 in the first 11 games of 2003.
THE TWO-OUT DAGGER
Kansas State has done a majority of its damage this season late in innings as half of its RBI (31-of-62) have come with two outs, including 21 in its five wins. Against San Diego State on Feb. 25, the Wildcats totaled nine two-out RBI, the most since recording 14 against Northern Colorado on March 30 of last season.
Individually, senior Wade Hinkle leads the way with seven, thanks to four two-out RBI in the last four games. Another senior, Dan Klein, and sophomores Ross Kivett and Blair DeBord are second with four apiece, while Jake Brown, Jared King and Tanner Witt each have three.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Kansas State has built a true home-field advantage at Tointon Family Stadium over the past several years and will be looking to continue that trend again this season. The Wildcats have won at least 20 home games in five of the last seven seasons, including a 71-22 (.763) mark over the last three-plus years. K-State's home record is even more impressive in non-conference games as the Cats are 46-6 (.885) since 2009.
HARTFORD AT A GLANCE
Hartford travels to Manhattan after winning its first game of the season, 5-2, over Central Connecticut on Wednesday, which also marked the first win in head coach Justin Blood's career. Prior to the win on Wednesday, the Hawks were swept in three-game series at Oklahoma and VMI.
The Hawks are hitting .287 this season and already have six home runs in just seven games. They are led at the plate by three players hitting over .300, including an even .400 mark by Simon Kudernatsch, who also leads the team in doubles (3) and RBI (7). James Alfonso is hitting .375 with a double and a solo home run, while Andy Drexel is hitting .345 with two home runs and six RBI. Chris Suchy, who is hitting .250, also has two home runs to tie Drexel for team-high honors.
Hartford will start left-hander Mike Thatcher on Friday and right-handers Alex Gouin and Hunter Englehart on Saturday, while left-hander Sean Newcomb gets the nod on Sunday. In two starts this season, Thatcher is 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA, allowing six earned runs in 8.2 innings. The senior took a no decision last week at VMI after allowing three runs on nine hits with two walks and a strikeout.
Gouin is also 0-1 with a 9.00 ERA in a pair of starts, including last Saturday at VMI when he allowed five runs (four earned) on seven hits in 4.2 innings. He took a no decision as he left with the game tied before the Keydets eventually won. Englehart will be making his first start of the season after going 0-1 with a 9.64 ERA in two relief appearances this season. In his last outing at VMI, he allowed three runs on four hits in an inning of work.
Newcomb is also 0-1, but he holds the best ERA of the four starters at 4.35. He started the Sunday game at VMI and took a no decision after allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits with seven strikeouts in 4.2 innings.
THE HARTFORD SERIES
This weekend's four-game series marks the first meeting between K-State and Hartford, while it is the first of 10 games this season against teams that the Wildcats have not faced prior to 2012. Kansas State has played only four games against current members of the America East Conference, going 3-1 in those contests. The Wildcats' first game against the conference was a 10-2 loss to Stony Brook in 2003. Then, in 2008, K-State swept a home series from Binghamton by scores of 10-4, 5-0 and 5-4.
Traditionally, Kansas State has been solid in four-game weekend series, going 25-3 overall during those weekends since head coach Brad Hill's first year in 2004. Last year, K-State swept a four-game series from Western Illinois, but split a series against Long Island.
CREATING BULLPEN DEPTH
Kansas State has gotten the most out of its young pitchers through 11 games this season. The four Wildcat freshmen hurlers - Caleb Wallingford, Nate Williams, Matt Wivinis and Robert Youngdahl - have combined to retire 15-of-16 first batters faced, record a 3.32 ERA, allow a .222 batting average and strike out 15 batters.
Leading the way this season has been Williams. A product of Valley Center, Kan., Williams has been nearly perfect in his five outings as the only blemish on his line was a solo home run in the ninth inning of a blowout win at San Diego State. That has proved to be the only hit allowed by Williams, who is holding opponents to a .050 batting average and has struck out five batters without issuing a walk. Youngdahl is right behind Williams as he has not surrendered a run on three hits with four strikeouts in six innings, while opponents are hitting just .167 against the left-hander.
KAYVON COLLECTS SOLID STARTS
Senior right-hander Kayvon Bahramzadeh, who has found success both as a reliever and a starter, has been stellar in his last two starts. In his first start of the year against San Diego State on Feb. 23, Bahramzadeh lasted six innings and only threw 69 pitches as he help the Wildcats defeat the Aztecs, 7-2. He was perfect his first time through the order, throwing only 25 pitches in the first three innings.
The right-hander came right back against Pacific last Sunday to face the minimum his first time through the order yet again as K-State cruised to a 9-3 win. Against the Tigers, Bahramzadeh struck out a career-high eight batters in six innings of work. It marked the first time he went at least six innings in consecutive starts since his freshman season of 2009. He also bettered his seven-strikeout performances against Butler on March 14, 2009, and Chicago State on April 27, 2010.
FLATTERY TURNING IT ON
Following a shaky outing to begin his Division I career, junior left-hander Joe Flattery has rebounded with two great starts at San Diego State and last week against Pacific. Flattery, who opened the season with a loss at CSU Bakersfield after giving up five runs in 3.1 innings, bounced back with a win against the Aztecs when he allowed three runs in 5.1 innings to earn his first career victory. Then, last week against the Tigers, Flattery surrendered only one run on five hits with no walks and a career-high four strikeouts in another five-inning outing. The Fort Dodge, Iowa, native only totaled one strikeout in his first two starts.
With his two victories, Flattery became the first K-State junior-college transfer to win two of their first three starts since Adam Cowart and Chase Mitchell in 2005. That season, Cowart won his first five starts, while Mitchell went 3-0 in his first four starts.
A season after batting injuries, senior Wade Hinkle is starting to make an impact this season for Kansas State in the middle of the lineup. A former junior-college transfer, Hinkle is one of just three players in the Big 12 hitting over .400 heading into this weekend, thanks to a six-game hitting streak in which he is hitting .500 (10-for-20).
Hinkle, who is also third in the league with a .540 on-base percentage, has reached base in all 11 games to begin the 2012 campaign. He raised his season on-base percentage 51 points on Tuesday against Nebraska when he reached base in all five plate appearances with a single, a hit-by-pitch and three walks. His three walks against the Huskers were the most by a Wildcat since the 2011 season opener. The Albuquerque, N.M., product already has eight walks this season after 11 all of last year.
LEADER OF THE PACK
If the first 11 games of the season are any indication, center fielder Jared King looks as though he will progress as a sophomore after earning Freshman All-America honors a year ago. Through 11 games, King is hitting .478 (22-for-46) with seven doubles, one triple, one homer and eight RBI. He ranks second in the Big 12 in batting average, first in hits-per-game at 2.0 (second in total hits), and he leads the conference in doubles (7) and total bases (34).
King, who also ranks second in the league in slugging percentage (.739) and fifth in on-base percentage (.520), has recorded one of the best starts to a season in recent school history. His 22 hits in the first 11 games are the most since Carter Jurica also had 22 in the first 11 games of 2010. Also, King's seven doubles are the most by a Wildcat since Ryan Baldwin recorded 11 in the first 11 games of 2003. However, Baldwin only had five more doubles in the final 41 games of the season.