Cats Open Homestand With No. 10 Shockers

Game 25
Kansas State (18-6) vs. #10 Wichita State (21-5)
March 27 7 p.m.

Tointon Stadium (2,331) Manhattan, Kan.

Radio:
Tuesday’s game will be broadcast live on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN in Manhattan and online at k-statesports.com. Matt Walters and Wyatt Thompson will call the action.

Internet:
Live stats of Tuesday’s game will be available at
k-statesports.com and a live webcast will also be available as part of the Powercat Passport option.

Series:
Wichita State leads the all-time series, 46-24, but Kansas State is 3-1 over the last four games. K-State is also  15-15 all-time in Manhattan against the Shockers.

Watch For: Hot Bats
K-State has seen Drew Biery and Rob Vaughn catch fire at the plate lately as Biery is 6-for-15 (.400) over the last four games with eight RBI, while Vaughn is 7-for-10 (.700) with four RBI over his last four games.

Kansas State begins a nine-game homestand on Tuesday as in-state rival and 10th-ranked Wichita State visits Tointon Stadium for a midweek tilt. The Wildcats, who are still receiving votes in both the Coaches and NCBWA polls, will play their fourth straight game against a Top 10 opponent when the Shockers head to Manhattan. Kansas State is coming off a 1-2 weekend at No. 9 Texas that saw the Wildcats drop the first two games of the series before exploding for 17 hits in an 11-9 comeback win on Sunday in Austin. K-State’s offense was quiet in the first two games of the Texas series before Rob Vaughn and company helped lead the Cats to the Sunday win. Vaughn was 4-for-4 with a grand slam and four RBI and closer Daniel Edwards earned his Big 12-leading seventh save by striking out three in 2.0 innings to preserve the win. The Cats also continued to play solid defense in Austin and hope the trend continues as K-State heads into the nine-game homestand with a .975 fielding percentage, which ranks second in the Big 12 Conference. Wichita State heads to Manhattan with a Top 10 ranking and is riding a seven-game winning streak. The two teams have played close games of late as K-State is 3-1 in the last four meetings and neither team has won by more than four runs in each of the last five meetings. Tuesday night’s game will be broadcast live on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN in Manhattan and online at k-statesports.com. A live webcast of the game will also be available at k-statesports.com as part of the Powercat Passport option. Live stats of the game will also be available at k-statesports.com under the Live Stats button.

 Noteworthy
Since 2004, Kansas State is 51-16 in the month of March and is 68-33 at home.
K-State has 15 wins against ranked opponents under head coach Brad Hill.
Under Brad Hill, Kansas State is 63-30 when its starting pitcher goes six-plus innings.
The Wildcats also are 79-8 under Hill when out-hitting their opponent.
The Cats are also 70-19-1 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.
50 of the Wildcats’ 126 total RBI this season have come with two outs.
K-State’s bullpen this season is 8-2 with a 3.28 ERA in 82.1 innings of work.
K-State relievers are also 10-for-10 in save opportunities and have retired 37-of-50 first batters.
K-State starting pitchers have struck out 102 batters in 133 combined innings this season.
K-State has outscored its opponent, 37-8, in the eighth and ninth innings this season.
K-State is 15-0 this season when out-hitting its opponent.
The Cats are 13-0 when leading after six innings, 13-0 when leading after seven and 16-0 after eight.
K-State is 18-4 when scoring three or more runs this season.
Freshman Justin Bloxom has seven RBI in his last six games and has collected eight two-out RBI this season.
Rob Vaughn is 7-for-10 (.700) with four RBI over his last four games.
Drew Biery is hitting .400 (6-for-15) with eight RBI over his last four games.
Eli Rumler ranks sixth in school history with 13 career sacrifice bunts.
Defensively, Rumler also ranks seventh in school history with 348 career assists.
Pitcher Brad Hutt has won six of his last eight starts, dating back to last season.
Closer Daniel Edwards has 10 career saves, which is tied for fourth-best in school history
Edwards has recorded a save or a win in each of his last 10 appearances and has 24 K’s in those 16.1 innings.

Scouting Wichita State
The 10th-ranked Wichita State Shockers will bring a 21-5 overall record into Tuesday night’s game at Tointon Stadium. The Shockers are currently riding a seven-game win streak and have started Missouri Valley Conference play with a 3-0 mark after sweeping Indiana State. So far through 26 games, the Shox have had solid pitching and good hitting as they head into the week with a .318 team batting average and a 2.28 team ERA. Individually, All-America candidate Damon Sublett leads the offense with a .412 average and 23 RBI, while seven players have homered multiple times, led by Derek Schermerhorn’s five round-trippers. On the mound, Aaron Shafer, Rob Musgrave and Travis Banwart have combined for 14 of the Shockers’ 21 wins and Tuesday’s probable starter Anthony Capra has a 0.46 ERA with 23 strikeouts and six walks in 19.2 innings.

The Series
Wichita State leads the all-time series, 46-24, but Kansas State is 3-1 over the last four games. K-State is also  15-15 all-time in Manhattan against the Shockers and the Cats are 3-3 against Wichita State under Brad Hill. Since 2004, neither team has won by more than five runs and four of the six games have been decided by three runs or less. K-State had won three in a row in the series until last season’s 7-3 Shocker win in Wichita and the Shox have not beaten the Cats in Manhattan since their 12-7 win in 16 innings back in 2004.

Spell Relief
Twenty-four games into the 2007 season, K-State has seen its pitching staff put up solid numbers, especially the bullpen. The staff heads into the weekend with a 3.88 team ERA, which is sixth-best in the Big 12 Conference this week. More impressively, K-State’s relievers are 8-2 with a 3.28 ERA in 82.1 innings of work, a number that went up steadily after the tough series at No. 9 Texas. In those 82.1 innings, pitchers have given up 71 hits and just 30 earned runs while striking out 70 batters. Opponents are hitting just .237 against all Wildcat relievers this season. Six relievers have accumulated ERA’s of 5.00 or lower, four of which are 1.93 or lower in 24 total appearances.

Saving The Day
K-State relievers have picked up 10 saves so far this season out of 18 total wins and are a perfect 10-of-10 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 seven total this season. His 10 career saves are also tied for the fourth-most in school history and he needs just one 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 five of six starts. Hutt is 5-1 with a 2.45 ERA and has won seven of his last nine starts on the mound, dating back to last season. In fact, K-State’s three weekend starters are a combined 9-2 with 73 strikeouts this season. On the year, K-State starters are 10-4 with a 4.24 ERA in 133.2 innings pitched. Over the last 13 games, starting pitchers are 5-3 with a 3.95 ERA in 68.1 innings pitched with 56 strikeouts.

Flashing the Leather
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 24 games, the Wildcats are fielding at a .975 clip, which ranks second in the Big 12 Conference. The Wildcats are 12-5 this season when committing one or no errors in a game and have committed one or no errors in 12 of their last 15 games.

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 seven saves in seven chances and also has picked up two wins. In nine total appearances this season, Edwards is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA with seven saves. The junior has struck out 22 batters in 14.1 innings while opponents are hitting just .083 against the right-hander. Dating back to last season, Edwards has recorded a save or a win in each of his last 10 appearances and has 24 K’s in those 16.1 innings.

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 (2nd), batting (6th) and walks (t6th). 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 20 of 22 games played this season.

Give Me Vaughn
Sophomore Rob Vaughn had a career day Sunday in K-State’s 11-9 win over No. 9 Texas in Austin. The Humble, Texas, native went 4-for-4 with a grand slam and four RBI in Sunday’s game in his hometown state. Over the last four games, Vaughn is 7-for-10 with four RBI and has seen his batting average jump up 60 points during that four-game stretch.

Biery Coming on Strong
Drew Biery had a strong end to the 2006 season offensively for the Cats and the sophomore has picked things up as of late in 2007 after battling the injury bug. In his last four games, Biery is 6-for-15 (.400) with eight RBI and five runs scored and also hit his first homer of the season in Sunday’s win over Texas. Biery is hitting .265 as a starter in 13 games and has raised his overall batting mark to .245 over the last few weeks.

Bunker Solid at Leadoff Spot
Junior Derek Bunker has stepped in nicely this season as a primary leadoff hitter for the Wildcats. Bunker, a switch hitter who is third on the team in hitting at .313, has reached base safely when leading off an inning in 12-of-22 plate appearances and has had success advancing runners in 16-of-37 plate appearances (43-percent).

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 348 and needs 52 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 this week’s action with a .325 mark through 24 games.

The Missing Link
Sophomore Tyler Link has been solid handling the bat this season as the sophomore heads into the Wichita State game with a .375 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 160 points to his current .231 mark. Over the last 14 games, Tenbrink leads the team with a .350 batting average, has collected nine extra-base hits and has driven in 11 runs.

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 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 is 5-1 this season, ranks sixth in the league in ERA at 2.45 and has gone six-plus innings in five of six starts. Dating back to last season, Hutt has won seven of his last nine starts and has lasted six-plus innings in all seven of those 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 six starts of the 2007 season, is now 4-1 with a 3.25 ERA over his last 11 starts. Bayuk has now yielded 13 earned runs in his last eight starts and has help opponents this season to a .224 batting average over 31.1 innings.

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 this week’s action, Bloxom has raised his batting average above the .300 mark to .302 and is chasing Byron Wiley for the team-lead in RBI with 16. Bloxom, who has hit safely in four of his last six games and 12 of 19 games played this season, has driven in seven runs over the last six games and has collected eight 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 4.09 ERA in seven 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 six of the seven first hitters he has faced in relief have been retired. At the plate, Ruch is currently hitting .261 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 105-81-2 at Kansas State and is 523-172-2 overall as a head coach in 12-plus seasons. Hill needs just 25 more wins to pass Bob Brasher as the fourth-winningest coach in KSU history. In fact, Hill currently needs just 34 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 19 games against teams that are ranked in this week’s Top 25. And, speaking of Boyd’s World, Kansas State checks in at No. 34 this week in the RPI ratings, which is fifth among Big 12 teams behind Texas (3), Texas A&M (12), Oklahoma (13) and Missouri (27).

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.