Baseball Opens Big 12 Play at No. 9 Texas

Games 22-24

Kansas State (17-4, 0-0) at #9 Texas (20-7, 3-0)

March 23 6:05 p.m.
March 24 2 p.m.
March 25 1 p.m.

UFCU Disch-Falk Field (6,649) Austin, Texas

Radio:
All three games will be broadcast live on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN and online at k-statesports.com with Matt Walters and Kenny Lannou calling the action.

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

Series:
Texas leads the series, 30-6, and is 18-4 all-time against the Wildcats in Austin. K-State picked up one win against then-No. 1 Texas in Austin, a 5-3 triumph back in 2005.

Watch For: KSU Pitching
K-State has gotten solid efforts from both its starting pitchers and relievers of late. Brad Hutt is a perfect 5-0 this season and ranks among the Big 12 leaders in wins and ERA, while Chase Bayuk has allowed just four earned runs in 29.0 innings this season. The bullpen also has sported a 2.24 ERA while opponents are hitting just .216 against it.

Kansas State opens Big 12 Conference play this weekend as it faces the task of heading to Austin, Texas, for a three-game series with the ninth-ranked Longhorns at UFCU Disch-Falk Field. The Wildcats, who are receiving votes in both the USA Today Coaches and NCBWA polls this week, are coming off a three-game sweep of Central Michigan at Tointon Stadium heading into conference play. Kansas State has been a busy ballclub over the last two weeks as it played 13 games in a stretch of 17 days, wrapping up with the Central Michigan series. The Cats finished that span with a 10-3 mark and now set their sights on the Big 12 Conference, beginning with the Longhorns. K-State’s pitching staff enters the weekend with a 2.97 ERA, which ranks second in the Big 12, while its relievers have accumulated a 2.24 ERA so far this season. Brad Hutt ranks among the Big 12 leaders in wins (5), ERA (2.02) and complete games (1), while Chase Bayuk is ranked second in the league in ERA at 1.24 and third in opponent batting average at .178. The Longhorns opened up Big 12 play last weekend with a three-game sweep of Baylor, two coming in Waco, and head into the series with a 20-7 overall mark. Friday’s game is set to start at 6:05 p.m., while Saturday’s game will begin at 2 p.m. The series finale will be Sunday at 1 p.m. All three games will be broadcast live on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN in Manhattan and online at k-statesports.com with Matt Walters and Kenny Lannou calling the action. Live stats will also be available for all three games at k-statesports.com.

Noteworthy
Since 2004, Kansas State is 50-14 in the month of March and is 4-5 in Big 12 season-opening series.
Under Brad Hill, Kansas State is 63-30 when its starting pitcher goes six-plus innings.
The Wildcats also are 78-8 under Hill when out-hitting their opponent.
The Cats are also 69-19-1 under Hill when recording 10 or more hits.
Over the last three-plus seasons, K-State is 88-5 when leading after seven innings and 71-22-2 when scoring first.
47 of the Wildcats’ 111 total RBI this season have come with two outs.
K-State’s bullpen this season is 7-2 with a 2.24 ERA in 68.1 innings of work.
K-State relievers are also 9-for-9 in save opportunities and have retired 34-of-44 first batters.
K-State starting pitchers have struck out 98 batters in 122 combined innings this season.
The K-State pitching staff has compiled a 2.2 strikeout-to-walk ratio this season.
K-State has outscored its opponent, 28-5, in the eighth and ninth innings this season.
K-State is 14-0 this season when out-hitting its opponent.
The Cats are 13-0 when leading after six innings, 13-0 when leading after seven and 15-0 after eight.
K-State is 17-2 when scoring three or more runs this season.
Freshman Justin Bloxom has six RBI in his last three games and has collected seven two-out RBI this season.
Nate Tenbrink is hitting .389 with nine extra-base hits and 11 RBI over his last 11 games.
Rumler also ranks sixth in school history with 13 career sacrifice bunts.
Defensively, Rumler also ranks seventh in school history with 343 career assists.
Pitcher Brad Hutt has won six of his last seven starts, dating back to last season.
Ben Hornbeck has struck out 17 batters in his last two outings over 11.2 innings.
Closer Daniel Edwards has nine career saves, which ranks seventh in school history
Edwards has recorded a save or a win in each of his last nine appearances and has 21 K’s in those 14.1 innings.

Scouting Texas
Ninth-ranked Texas heads into the weekend series on a hot streak, having won seven games in a row and 11 of its last 12. The Longhorns swept Baylor last weekend in their Big 12 season-opening series while following with a 5-3 win over Texas State on Tuesday. Offensively, the Longhorns are among the Big 12 leaders in hitting with a .333 team mark, while Bradley Suttle’s .425 average is among the best in the league. Sophomore Kyle Russell, a high school teammate of K-State’s Byron Wiley and Trevor Hurley, leads the Big 12 with 13 homers through 27 games and has driven in a team-high 33 runs. On the mound, senior Adrian Alaniz is 6-1 with a 2.21 ERA, while James Russell and Joseph Krebs each have four wins and sub-3.00 ERA’s. Randy Boone, who has been a starter in years past, is tied with K-State’s Daniel Edwards for the league-lead in saves with six.

The Series
Texas leads the all-time series with K-State, 30-6, and is 18-4 all-time against the Wildcats in Austin. K-State picked up one win against then-No. 1 Texas in Austin, a 5-3 win back in 2005. The most success Kansas State has had with Texas came back in the 1997 and 1998 series when the Cats won three games in a row and five-of-seven in the series. Texas then went on to win 17 straight between the two schools until K-State’s win in Austin back in 2005. And, don’t forget the 2004 season when the two teams battled in a 20-inning affair in Manhattan that saw Texas come out on top, 10-6, in a six-plus hour game on a Friday night.

Spell Relief
Twenty-one 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 2.97 team ERA, which is second-best in the Big 12 Conference this week. More impressively, K-State’s relievers are 7-2 with a 2.24 ERA in 68.1 innings of work. In those 68.1 innings, pitchers have given up 53 hits and just 17 earned runs while striking out 59 batters. Opponents are hitting just .216 against all Wildcat relievers this season. Seven total relievers have accumulated ERA’s of 3.00 or lower, six of which are 1.54 and under and three that have 0.00 ERA’s 17 total appearances.

Saving The Day
K-State relievers have picked up nine saves so far this season out of 17 total wins and are a perfect 9-of-9 in those save opportunities. Daniel Edwards, who earned All-Tournament honors in Tampa with two saves, leads the team and the Big 12 Conference with six total this season. His nine career saves are also the fifth-most in school history and he needs just two more to move into a tie for second. Sophomore Trevor Hurley has also picked up two saves, while Jason Linn closed out a close win in the season opener.

Let’s Get It Started
K-State continues to get solid pitching performances from its starters as 12 have gone six-plus innings in starts this season, including Brad Hutt who has lasted 6.0 innings in all five starts. Hutt is 5-0 with a 2.02 ERA and has won seven of his last eight starts on the mound, dating back to last season. In fact, K-State’s three projected starters on the weekend are a combined 9-0 with 69 strikeouts this season. On the year, K-State starters are 10-2 with a 3.38 ERA in 122.2 innings pitched. Over the last 10 games, starting pitchers are 5-1 with a 2.04 ERA in 57.1 innings pitched with 52 strikeouts. Individually, the three weekend starters of Hutt (12 K’s), Chase Bayuk (13) and Ben Hornbeck (17) each struck out 10 or more batters over that span.

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 21 games, the Wildcats are fielding at a .973 clip, which ranks second in the Big 12 Conference. The Wildcats are 11-3 this season when committing one or no errors in a game and have committed one or no errors in 9 of their last 12 games.

On the Road Again
Kansas State opens Big 12 play on the road for the fourth straight year under Brad Hill this weekend in Austin. The Wildcats took two-of-three at Missouri in 2004, lost two-of-three at Oklahoma State in 2005 and dropped two-of-three last season at Missouri. So far this season, Kansas State is 9-4 away from Tointon Stadium, which includes an 7-1 mark at neutral sites and a 2-3 record on the road.

Leading the Way
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 (1st), batting (5th) and walks (6th). The Tomball, Texas, native leads the Wildcats in 12 different offensive categories and has had multiple hits in eight games, while recording three or more hits on four different occasions. Wiley also has reached base safely in 18 of 20 games played this season.

Eli’s Coming
Senior Eli Rumler, one of two seniors on this year’s squad, has surpassed the 100 career starts mark this season and has had a great first half of the season both offensively and defensively. Currently, Rumler holds the K-State career hit-by-pitches records with 26, and defensively, Rumler ranks seventh in career assists with 343 and needs 57 more to move into sixth. Rumler also has 13 career sacrifice bunts, which ranks sixth in school history. Rumler also has seen his batting average rise 70 points from last season as the senior hit .258 last season and heads into the weekend with a .328 mark through 21 games.

The Missing Link
Sophomore Tyler Link has picked things up offensively over the last three weeks as the sophomore heads into the Texas series with a team-leading .409 batting average. Link has collected a team-high six bunt base-hits on the season, has added three infield singles on the season and has collected multiple hits in five games.

On the Brink
Sophomore Nate Tenbrink has come up with several key two-out hits over the last three weeks, including a three-run homer in the eighth inning of the Cal-Santa Barbara game. Tenbrink had 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 has since raised his batting average over 200 points to his current .246 mark. Over the last 11 games, Tenbrink leads the team with a .389 batting average, has collected nine extra-base hits and has driven in a team-high 11 runs.

Playing Sega
Redshirt freshman catcher Daniel Dellasega has been a solid performer behind the plate in his first season of action. In his debut, Dellasega went 2-for-4 at the plate in a win over Penn State and followed with a 3-for-4 day in a win over Ohio State. On the season, Dellasega is 8-for-24 (.333) and has hit safely in five of eight games played this season.

Shut the Door Eddie
Junior closer Daniel Edwards has settled in nicely this season as the Wildcats’ new closer. After coming off a big summer as a stopper in the Northwoods League, Edwards has been brilliant so far with six saves in six chances and also has picked up two wins. In eight total appearances this season, Edwards is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA with six saves. The junior has struck out 19 batters in 12.1 innings while opponents are hitting just .073 against the right-hander. Dating back to last season, Edwards has recorded a save or a win in each of his last nine appearances and has 21 K’s in those 14.1 innings.

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 5-0 this season, ranks fourth in the league in ERA at 2.02 and has gone six-plus innings in all five starts. Dating back to last season, Hutt has won seven of his last eight starts and has lasted six-plus innings in those seven wins.

Bayuk Baffles Hitters
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 five starts of the 2007 season, is now 4-0 with a 2.05 ERA over his last 10 starts. Bayuk has now only yielded six earned runs in his last seven starts. In fact, Bayuk’s last loss on the mound came 12 starts ago when the Cats fell to Nebraska on April 2 of last year.

Big Ben
Sophomore pitcher Ben Hornbeck has been a strikeout machine over the last two weeks as he enters the Texas series with 17 strikeouts in his last 11.2 innings and has collected four or more punchouts in all but one start this season. For his young career so far at Kansas State, Hornbeck has 62 strikeouts in 55.2 innings and is 5-1 with one save and a 3.40 ERA.

Bloxom is Clutch
True freshman Justin Bloxom has stepped up nicely for the Cats at first base and/or designated hitter this season. Heading into the Texas series, Bloxom has raised his batting average above the .300 mark to .302 and is chasing Byron Wiley for the team-lead in RBI with 15. Bloxom, who has hit safely in his last three games and in six of his last eight, has driven in six runs over the last three games and has collected seven two-out RBI on the season.

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, the outfield and seen several pinch-hit appearances. On the mound, Ruch has compiled a 2.61 ERA in six 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 five of the six first hitters he has faced in relief have been retired. At the plate, Ruch is currently hitting .300 on the season and leads the team in pinch-hitting with a .667 mark (2-for-3) with one run driven in.

Hill Tops Century Mark
Kansas State head coach Brad Hill picked up his 100th win as head coach of the Wildcat program against North Dakota State on March 10. In three-plus seasons, Hill is 104-79-2 at Kansas State and is 522-170-2 overall as a head coach in 12-plus seasons. Hill needs just 26 more wins to pass Bob Brasher as the fourth-winningest coach in KSU history. In fact, Hill currently needs just 35 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 head 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. 32 this week in the RPI ratings, which is fifth among Big 12 teams behind Texas (10), Texas A&M (19), Oklahoma (22) and Missouri (28).

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.