Kansas State Begins Big 12 Play at Texas
Kansas State Begins Big 12 Play at Texas
March 17, 2011
Friday, March 18 - Sunday, March 20
Austin, Texas /// UFCU Disch-Falk Field (6,649)
Last Meeting: Texas won two-of-three, 1-2, 17-2 and 6-5, May 7-9, in Manhattan, Kan.
K-STATE: Brad Hill
Alma Mater: Emporia State, 1984
Career Record: 660-263-3 (17th season)
Record at K-State: 242-172-3 (7th season)
TEXAS: Augie Garrido
Record at Texas: 579-274-2 (14th season)
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Coming off a season-long homestand that saw Kansas State go 7-2, the Wildcats open up Big 12 play on the road as they travel to Austin, Texas, for a three-game series against No. 5 Texas, Friday through Sunday, March 18-20, at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The series marks the first time since 2007 K-State has opened up Big 12 play on the road when the Cats also opened up in Austin. Live audio of all three games is available online for free at www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com with John Kurtz and Ryan Lackey on the call. Friday's contest can be heard in the Manhattan area in its entirety on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN, while Saturday's game could air on the station depending on the play of the men's basketball team in the NCAA tournament. Sunday's contest will be exclusively online due to the women's basketball NCAA tournament contest.
The Wildcats finished their homestand on a high note after defeating Nebraska, 6-5, in a non-conference tilt Wednesday evening. The Cats spotted the Huskers an early 5-0 lead after a four-run NU third, but K-State got back in the game with a three-run homer by Mike Kindel. After a scoreless fourth, Kent Urban gave K-State the lead for good with another three-run shot. Kansas State, which used six relief pitchers in the contest, received strong outings from Jared Moore, Tyler Sturges, Shawn Lewick and James Allen, which combined to no-hit Nebraska over the final four frames.
Junior Nick Martini, the reigning Big 12 Player of the Year, leads Kansas State offensively, hitting .400 with four doubles, two triples and 11 RBI. The outfielder, who is tied for fourth in the Big 12 in hitting, has reached base safely in a nation-leading 76 straight games. Jason King paces the team in doubles (five) and home runs (two), while Kindel has a team-high 16 RBI.
Kansas State is scheduled to start left-hander Kyle Hunter on Friday and right-hander Matt Applegate on Saturday, while the Wildcats have not decided a starter for the series finale. Hunter is 2-0 with a 1.52 ERA this season, which ranks 11th in the Big 12. He has wins in each of the last two contests, including last week against Long Island when he pitched a season-high seven innings with a walk and a career-best 12 strikeouts. Applegate followed Hunter's lead on Saturday as the junior took a no-hitter into the ninth inning until a one-out single broke up the bid. The Wichita, Kan., product came within two outs of recording K-State's first no-hitter since 1976.
The Wildcat bullpen - highlighted by James Allen and Evan Marshall - has been solid for another year. Allen leads the Big 12 with five saves this season and has allowed just three hits in 12.1 innings, while the junior has 17 strikeouts without surrendering a walk. Marshall has been equally impressive as he holds a 2-0 record and a 2.20 ERA, allowing four runs on 12 hits with a walk and 17 strikeouts in 16.1 innings.
DID YOU KNOW
The Kansas State pitching staff finished the nine-game homestand with a 3.36 ERA and a .217 opponent batting average.
Propelled by 68 strikeouts in its last five games (10.7 per game), the Wildcats have 127 this year, the second most in the first 16 games of a season in the Brad Hill era (135 in 2006).
Kansas State is second in the Big 12 in strikeout differential (127 pitching strikeouts minus 77 hitting strikeouts) at +50.
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's 76-game streak of reaching base safely is the longest active streak in the nation. The streak has continued on a hit 66 times, while the junior has a .506 on-base percentage during the streak.
Kyle Hunter's 12 strikeouts against Long Island were the most since A.J. Morris also had 12 against Oklahoma in 2009. Furthermore, his 28 strikeouts through four starts is the most in four starts by a Wildcat since Jim Ripley in 2004.
Since his transition back to the bullpen last season, Evan Marshall has a 2.51 ERA and a .195 opponent batting average. He has also averaged 6.1 strikeouts per nine innings as opposed to 2.4 walks.
James Allen already has five saves this season after nine a year ago. With 19 career saves, the junior ranks in the top 10 nationally and is second in K-State history.
With 10 strikeouts in the Sunday game against Western Illinois, James Allen became the first Wildcat pitcher since 1986 to collect 10 or more punch outs in a relief appearance.
IMPROVING WITHIN THE CONFERENCE
Kansas State has made big strides over the past five seasons, topped by its highest-ever Big 12 finish in 2010. The Wildcats concluded Big 12 play third in the standings, their highest conference finish since a second-place showing in the 1990 Big Eight standings. K-State, which tallied a school record 80 overall and 28 Big 12 wins over the 2009 and 2010 seasons, also came close to recording their most conference victories in school history. The Friday-night win at Texas A&M gave the Cats 14 on the season and tied them with the 2009 team for the most in school history. But the Aggies came back to win the final two games of the series.
K-State, which finished 10th in the Big 12 in 2005, has improved its Big 12 placing each of the last five seasons as the Cats finished ninth in 2006, eighth in 2007, tied for sixth in 2008 and fourth in 2009 before finishing third in 2010.
CATS LOOKING TO CONTINUE WINNING BIG 12 STARTS
Kansas State will be looking for its third-straight Big 12 opening win on Friday at Texas. The Wildcats defeated No. 13 Oklahoma, 9-1, to open up conference play in 2009 before a come-from-behind 14-11 win over Oklahoma State, which fueled a series sweep, to begin the 2010 Big 12 season.
This weekend marks the first time since 2007 that Kansas State will start conference play on the road as it dropped a series at then-No. 9 Texas. The Longhorns topped K-State by scores of 10-3 and 14-3 on Friday and Saturday before the Cats rallied to earn an 11-9 victory on Sunday to salvage the series. In that contest, current Wildcat student coach Rob Vaughn collected a career-high four hits, including a fifth-inning grand slam.
TEXAS AT A GLANCE
Texas, the defending Big 12 regular season champion, enters the opening weekend of league play with a 12-5 record after winning three-of-four against Brown before topping Texas State, 3-1, on Tuesday.
Pitching has been the Longhorns' strongest aspect once again as they hold a team ERA of 2.62, which ranks third in the Big 12. But on the flip side, UT is only hitting .265 as a team to rank eighth in the conference.
Freshman infielder Erich Weiss has begun his collegiate career on a high note, going 22-for-54 (.407) with two doubles, four triples, a home run and a team-high 16 RBI through 17 games. Sophomore Cohl Walla, who is hitting .283, is tied for the team lead in doubles with five, while senior Tant Shepherd paces the team in home runs with two despite hitting only .208.
Texas will start Taylor Jungmann on Friday, Hoby Milner on Saturday, while Cole Green gets the nod on Sunday. Jungmann is 4-0 with a 0.78 ERA and two complete games. The junior has surrendered only three earned runs on 18 hits with three walks and 31 strikeouts through 34.2 innings. Last week against Brown, Jungmann worked eight innings, allowing just three hits with two walks and four strikeouts.
Milner, a spot starter in 2010, is 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA this season in five appearances, including two starts. He started last week against Brown, allowing two runs on three hits in five innings of work.
Green, the 2010 Big 12 Pitcher of the Year, has struggled in the beginning of his senior campaign as he is 1-2 with a 3.42 ERA, but has 33 strikeouts compared to just two walks. Last week against Brown, Green threw a seven-inning complete game, surrendering a run on seven hits with and 10 strikeouts.
THE TEXAS SERIES
Texas leads the all-time series against K-State, 39-11-1, including a 20-7-1 mark in Austin, but the teams have split the last seven contests (3-3-1) dating back to 2009. The Cats went into Austin that year to face No. 2 Texas and came up with a 4-2 victory on Friday and a 5-4 win in 12 innings on Saturday, before the teams played to a 6-6 tie through 11 innings on Sunday.
Last year saw the Wildcats knock off the top-ranked Longhorns, 2-1, in the first game, earning their first-ever home win against a No. 1 ranked team. K-State starting pitcher Kyle Hunter gave up just one run on seven hits with six strikeouts before Evan Marshall and James Allen slammed the door on Texas, ending its record-breaking 17-game Big 12 winning streak. After UT came back to win the second game, 17-2, the rubber match saw K-State clinging to a 5-4 lead in the seventh inning before the Longhorns scored twice in the frame to win the series with a 6-5 Sunday victory.
THROW HIM THE CHAIR
The Kansas State pitching staff has seen some of its better strikeout performances in recent memory in just 16 games this season. K-State has registered six games with 10 or more strikeouts, including a season-high 16 against Western Illinois, the most since it had 17 in a 20-inning game vs. Texas in 2004. The Cats, who have averaged 10.7 strikeouts in their last six games, have 127 this year, the second most through the first 16 games of a season under Brad Hill after the 2006 team had 135.
Individually, Kyle Hunter leads the way with 28 strikeouts, including a career-high 12 against Long Island last week. His 28 punch outs are tied for the most through four starts under head coach Brad Hill as Jim Ripley also had 28 in 2004. Among pitchers with four or more outings this season, James Allen leads the way in strikeouts per nine innings at 12.4.
HUNTER, APPLEGATE ARE K-STATE'S 1-2 PUNCH
Kansas State's top two starting pitchers - Kyle Hunter and Matt Applegate - have combined to register four-straight quality outings in each of their last two starts. The duo has combined for a 4-0 record and a 0.63 ERA over the past two weekends, surrendering two earned runs in a combined 28.2 innings of work. They also struck out 30 batters as opposed to seven walks.
Last week against Long Island, Hunter and Applegate were nearly untouchable in a pair of wins. Hunter began the series on Friday by striking out a career-high 12 batters, bettering his eight-strikeout performance from the week prior. His 12 batters fanned were the most since A.J. Morris also had 12 against Oklahoma in 2009.
Applegate followed Hunter's lead as the right-hander came within two outs of throwing K-State's first no-hitter since 1976. Applegate worked a career-high 8.1 innings, allowing the lone hit with three walks and a career-high tying six strikeouts. The junior combined with closer James Allen for the Wildcats' first one-hitter since 2004.