K-State Hosts No. 21 Texas in Big 12 Home Opener
K-State Hosts No. 21 Texas in Big 12 Home Opener
March 22, 2012
Friday, March 23 - Sunday, March 25
Manhattan, Kan. /// Tointon Family Stadium (2,331)
MANHATTAN, Kan. - With four days of rest following its five-game road trip, Kansas State opens its Big 12 home schedule this weekend as the Wildcats host No. 21 Texas, Friday-Sunday, March 23-25, at Tointon Family Stadium. The series has been heavily contested lately as it has featured one-run contests in four of the last six meetings between the two teams. Friday night’s series opener is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m., first pitch, while Saturday’s contest will begin at 2 p.m., before the series finale on Sunday at 1 p.m. All three games can be seen nationally on Fox College Sports (FCS) and world-wide on K-StateHD.TV. Friday’s game serves as the first K-State Sports Network radio broadcast with Wyatt Thompson, Brian Smoller and Matt Walters on the call. The final two games of the series can be heard in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN, while live audio all three games is available online at www.k-statesports.com.
Plenty of promotional items surround this weekend’s series as K-State will host a pregame tailgate beyond the left-field wall of Tointon Family Stadium on both Friday and Saturday beginning 90 minutes prior to first pitch. Additionally, Friday is baseball bingo and team/camper night, while Sunday is a Family Day as fans can purchase a Wildcat 4-Pack for $30 that includes four general admission bench tickets, four hot dogs, four drinks and four bags of chips. All kids in attendance can run the bases after Sunday’s game.
K-STATE AT A GLANCE
Kansas State, which had its Tuesday game against Creighton rained out, went 3-2 during its week-long road trip as the Cats swept two games from Minnesota and earned a Friday-night victory at No. 8 Texas A&M. The Big 12-opening game for both teams featured a combined 27 runs on 33 hits as K-State picked up a 15-12 win. The Wildcats recorded 20 hits on Friday against the Big 12’s top pitching staff, the most by K-State in a conference game since 2002. Of K-State’s 20 hits, 19 were singles as the only extra-base hit was a grand slam by Wade Hinkle, his second of the week, as the Wildcats led 7-0 after the second inning. The Aggies battled back, however, to take an 11-9 lead after the sixth, but K-State answered with two in the seventh and four more in the eighth as the Cats went on for the upset victory. Texas A&M came back with wins on Saturday and Sunday to take the series.
K-State is averaging 11.3 hits per game over the last nine contests and is currently second in the league with a .310 batting average. The Wildcats, who also lead the conference in on-base percentage (.427), field two of the top three hitters in the Big 12 in Hinkle and sophomore Jared King. King leads the Big 12 at .431 - 13 points better than the second-leading hitter - while he is also tops in the conference in hits per game (1.72) and total bases (49). Hinkle is third in the Big 12 at .408 and leads the league in RBI (25) and on-base percentage (.538). The senior first baseman has reached base in 19 of 20 games this season and has also reached safely in 35 of his last 56 plate appearances.
Kansas State is expected to start its usual rotation of Matt Applegate on Friday, Joe Flattery on Saturday and Kayvon Bahramzadeh on Sunday. Applegate is looking to jump-start his season as he is 1-2 with a 6.04 ERA. Last Friday, the right-hander allowed six Aggie runs in 4.2 innings with four walks and five strikeouts. Flattery, a junior-college transfer, had been riding a three-game winning streak until the left-hander took the loss last Saturday after allowing three earned runs in four innings of work to now sit at a season record of 3-2. Bahramzadeh, who has worked as both a starter and reliever in his career, suffered his first loss of the season last Sunday by surrendering five runs in three innings of work to see his season record drop to 3-1.
DID YOU KNOW
• Kansas State’s seven-run second inning Friday was the most runs in an inning against a Big 12 team since scoring eight on Oklahoma State on March 28, 2010.
• Following play last week, the Wildcats ranked fourth nationally in walks (116) and ninth nationally in steals (43).
• The Cats are 223-16 when leading after seven frames during Brad Hill’s eight-plus years in Manhattan, including a perfect 11-0 mark this season.
• First baseman Wade Hinkle hit two grand slams last week, the first Wildcat to do so since Todd Fereday hit two in a single game in 1994.
• Hinkle finished play last week ranked in the top 30 nationally in three categories: on-base percentage (14th), runs scored (15) and RBI (22).
• Hinkle has drawn 16 walks in 2012 after just 11 in 43 games played last season.
• Senior Matt Giller has seen his average raise 109 points after recording nine hits in his last 14 at-bats.
• Jake Brown tied a Big 12 and school record with six hits in the first game of a doubleheader against Hartford en route to Big 12 Co-Player of the Week honors.
RIDING OUT THE STORM
Kansas State held a 7-0 lead at Texas A&M on Friday only to see the Aggies come back to take an 11-9 advantage after eight runs over the fifth and sixth innings. But the Wildcats were able to fight back with six runs over the seventh and eighth frames en route to a 15-12 upset victory over the nation’s eighth-ranked team.
The come-from-behind victory was monumental as it was the first time ever by the Wildcats in Big 12 play (441 games) that K-State held a lead of at least seven runs, saw the opposing team either tie or take the lead, but still battle back for the victory. The last time the Wildcats accomplished the feat was in 2002 against CW Post. In that contest, K-State led 9-0 lead through five innings before CW Post scored 10 unanswered to lead, 10-9, in the eighth inning. The Wildcats scored two in the eighth and held on for an 11-10 win.
TEXAS AT A GLANCE
Riding a six-game winning streak, 21st-ranked Texas holds an 11-8 record, including a perfect 3-0 mark in Big 12 play after sweeping Oklahoma in Norman last weekend. Last Friday, UT trailed the Sooners, 4-0, before taking a 5-4 lead following a three-run seventh. OU tied the game in the bottom of the ninth with a home run to send the game into extra innings. Following two scoreless frames, the Longhorns scored twice in the 12th before limiting OU to just one in the bottom half to win, 7-6. The extra-inning victory jump-started the weekend for the Longhorns as Texas took a 9-5 victory on Saturday before completing the sweep with a 9-4 victory on Sunday. Texas also defeated Stephen F. Austin, 9-1, Tuesday night.
The Longhorns, who have hit .342 over the last five games, holds a .252 team batting average this year and are led at the plate by sophomore Mark Payton at .333. Junior Jonathan Walsh is hitting .300, while sophomore Erich Weiss leads the team in both home runs (2) and RBI (14).
Texas is expected to start a trio of right-handers in Nathan Thornhill on Friday, Ricky Jacquez on Saturday and Parker French on Sunday. In eight games, including five starts, Thornhill is 2-1 with a 3.21 ERA and has struck out 30 batters as opposed to just nine walks. In his start last Friday at OU, the sophomore was able to battle through a four-run first inning to last 6.1 innings with a walk and seven strikeouts.
Jacquez will be making his eighth appearance and fourth start of the year as he holds a 1-1 record and a 4.95 ERA, allowing 11 runs on 19 hits in 20 innings of work. The freshman allowed three runs in three innings of work with four walks and a strikeout last Saturday against the Sooners. French, who leads the team with 13 appearances, will be making his third start of the year and holds a 3-0 record and a 3.45 ERA. He took the win in the series finale last weekend after allowing four runs on five hits with two walks and four strikeouts in 6.2 innings of work.
THE TEXAS SERIES
Texas leads the all-time series against Kansas State, 42-11-1, including a 16-4 mark in games played in Manhattan. However, K-State and Texas have battled over the last few meetings as four of the last six games between the two clubs have been decided by just one run.
The Wildcats will be out to snap a five-game losing streak to the Longhorns and pick up their first series win against UT since 2009. That season, K-State won the first two games in Austin before the two teams played to a 6-6 tie in the series finale. The last time the two teams met in Manhattan was in 2010 as K-State won the series opener, 2-1, the Wildcats’ first ever home win over a No. 1 ranked team. Texas went on the win the series by scores of 17-2 and 6-5 before sweeping the season series last year in Austin. The Longhorns took the Friday-night game, 3-0, last year before winning a pair of extra-inning games by scores of 4-3 in 10 innings and 6-5 in 14 innings.
THE TWO-OUT DAGGER
Kansas State has done a majority of its damage this season late in innings as 40-percent of its RBI (55-of-137) have come with two outs, including 45 in its 12 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. Additionally, K-State collected seven in last Friday’s win at No. 8 Texas A&M, four of which came on Wade Hinkle’s grand slam. Individually, Hinkle leads the way with 13 after 13 all of last season. Jared King, Ross Kivett and Tanner Witt are all tied for second with seven, while Jake Brown and Dan Klein have six apiece.
CREATING BULLPEN DEPTH
Kansas State has gotten the most out of its young pitchers through 20 games this season. Three Wildcat freshmen hurlers - Nate Williams, Matt Wivinis and Robert Youngdahl - have combined to allow just 11 earned runs in 29.1 innings of relief, good for a 3.37 ERA. They have also retired 78-percent of their first batters faced (18-of-23) and have allowed just a .262 batting average. The trio has been even more impressive in non-conference play as they hold a combined 1.69 ERA and are limiting opponents to a .225 average.
Leading the way this season has been Williams. A product of Valley Center, Kan., the right-hander has been outstanding in his eight games as the only blemishes on his line are a solo home run in the ninth inning of a blowout win at San Diego State and a sacrifice fly last Friday at Texas A&M. Williams has only given up four hits this year as he is holding opponents to a .111 batting average. Youngdahl has not allowed an earned run in his eight non-conference outings, which spans 8.1 innings.
HINKLE SHOWING PLATE DISCIPLINE
A season after batting injuries, senior Wade Hinkle is starting to make an impact this season for K-State. The former junior-college transfer leads the Big 12 with 25 RBI and is one of just three players in the Big 12 hitting over .400. However, the first baseman he has made his biggest strides by finding a way to get on base as he leads the conference with a .538 on-base percentage thanks to the fact that he has reached base in 35 of his last 56 plate appearances. Hinkle has turned those times on base into runs as he is second in the conference with 24 runs scored.
Hinkle, who recorded only 11 walks in 43 games a year ago, has become more patient at the plate as he already has 16 this year to tie for third in the Big 12. The first baseman drew three walks and was hit by a pitch at Nebraska, while he also worked three walks in the series finale against Hartford.
ONE SWING, BIG IMPACT
Entering the 2012 season, only three players in Brad Hill’s eight-year tenure at K-State had hit two grand slams in a career, and none of them had two in a season. Senior Wade Hinkle became the first, and he did so in a matter of days. The Albuquerque, N.M., hammered a pair of grand slams last week, hitting one in a victory at Minnesota on Tuesday and the other in a winning effort at No. 8 Texas A&M on Friday. Hinkle became the first Wildcat to hit a pair of grand slams within a week since Todd Fereday hit two in a single game against Iowa State in 1994.
Both of Hinkle’s shots had a major impact on each game. His grand slam into the folded up chairback seats beyond the right-field wall of the Metrodome last Tuesday completed a six-run fourth inning as K-State won the game, 9-5. On Friday, Hinkle’s grand slam came with two outs in the second inning and turned what was a three-run frame into a seven-run inning. The Wildcats went on to win the game, 15-12.
LEADER OF THE PACK
If his first 18 games of the year 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. King leads the Big 12 with a .431 batting average (31-for-72) with seven doubles, one triple, three homers and 14 RBI. He also paces the conference in hits-per-game (1.72), while he is second in slugging percentage (.671) and third in on-base percentage (.506).