Wildcats Play Host to Nebraska Tuesday Night
Wildcats Play Host to Nebraska Tuesday Night
April 2, 2012
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Manhattan, Kan. /// Tointon Family Stadium (2,331)
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Following a stretch of nine Big 12 games in its last 10 contests, Kansas State will step out of conference play for the next week and a half beginning with a home tilt against Nebraska on Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m., at Tointon Family Stadium. Tuesday marks the first of nine home games in the next 16 days for the Wildcats, while it is the finale of a three-game season series against the Huskers. The game can be seen world-wide on K-StateHD.TV beginning with K-State Gameday, hosted by Brian Smoller and former All-American Craig Wilson, at 6 p.m. The game can also be heard on the K-State Sports Network with Smoller, Wyatt Thompson and Matt Walters on the call.
Tuesday’s game is Dollar Dog Night as hot dogs are just $1 while supplies last, while a pregame tailgate will begin at 5 p.m., directly behind the stadium off College Avenue. Fans can purchase tickets to the Nebraska game through the K-State Athletics Ticket office by phone at 1-800-221-CATS, online at www.k-statesports.com/tickets or at the Tointon Family Stadium box office prior to the contest.
K-STATE AT A GLANCE
The Wildcats will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing series loss at No. 24 Oklahoma last weekend. After OU took the series opener, 5-1, on Friday night, K-State came back with a thrilling 8-7 win on Saturday. The Wildcats trailed, 7-6, entering the seventh inning before scoring a pair of runs with two outs on a Jake Brown squeeze bunt and Tanner Witt’s game-winning RBI single. Nate Williams came in to work a scoreless ninth inning for his third save of the season.
Looking for its first Big 12 series win of the year, Kansas State took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning. With two outs and a runner on first, Oklahoma recorded consecutive pinch-hit base hits in a triple and a game-winning single to steal the series from the Wildcats.
K-State, which fields four of the top nine hitters in the Big 12, has been paced recently by Witt and Matt Giller. Witt has recorded a hit in 11 of his last 12 games, while he holds a .465 (20-of-43) average with three doubles and nine RBI during that stretch. He tallied a pair of two-hit games against the Sooners on Friday and Saturday before doubling and scoring on Sunday. Witt’s average ranks eighth in the Big 12 overall, while he is fifth in conference games. Giller, who is ninth in the league at .347, is currently riding a career-best eight-game hitting streak.
Sophomore Jared King ranks second in the Big 12 with a .394 batting average, while he ranks in the top 10 in five other categories and is riding a career-long streak of 22 games reaching base safely. Wade Hinkle, a senior, is seventh in the Big 12 with a .354 average. Also, Jon Davis went 5-for-8 with three doubles in a pair of starts at Oklahoma after recording just one hit and striking out 11 times in his first 18 at-bats of the season.
K-State is expected to start left-hander Jared Moore on Tuesday, who will be making his third start of the year and 10th overall appearance as he holds a 2-1 record and a 6.75 ERA. He has not pitched since totaling two innings in the Texas series, while it will be his first start since March 14 at Minnesota. Against the Gophers, Moore took the win in a predetermined pitch-count start after allowing a run on three hits with three strikeouts in three innings.
The K-State bullpen is led by a nucleus of young pitchers in sophomore Gerardo Esquivel and freshmen Williams and Robert Youngdahl. Esquivel, who has worked exclusively out of the bullpen in his last eight contests, earned the win on Saturday at OU when he shut down the Sooners over his final three innings, retiring 10 of the final 11 batters he faced. Williams has seen action in 12 games, holding a 0-2 record, but the right-hander has three saves and has limited opponents to a .207 batting average and a 2.35 ERA. Youngdahl has been the most-used reliever with 13 appearances, and he has not allowed a run during non-conference play, which spans 10.1 innings.
DID YOU KNOW
• Kansas State’s starting pitchers combined for 18 innings last weekend, the most in a Big 12 series since 19 against Texas Tech last season, a span of six series.
• Kansas State leads the Big 12 with a .980 fielding percentage, a mark that ranks 10th nationally entering the week.
• K-State also ranks in the top 12 in three other categories, including walks (9th), steals (11th) and on-base percentage (12th).
• K-State has a .400 or better on-base percentage in 14 games this season, holding a 12-2 mark in those games.
• The Wildcats have worked at least five walks in 16 games this year, going 11-5 in those games.
• Outfielders Jared King and Tanner Witt are each riding career-long streaks of consecutive games reaching base at 22 and 20 games, respectively.
• Blair DeBord’s home run on Saturday was his first since April 28, 2010, after redshirting last year due to injury.
GREAT STARTING PITCHING
Kansas State received solid outings last weekend from all three starters, but in particular seniors Matt Applegate and Kayvon Bahramzadeh. Applegate worked a season-long eight innings but suffered the loss as the Wildcats could only muster one run in a 5-1 loss. The right-hander worked his first career complete game and was 0.1 innings shy of his career long outing. Bahramzadeh started Sunday’s game on fire as he retired the first 12 batters he faced and struck out a career-best 11 in six innings. It was the most fanned batters by a pitcher in a Big 12 game since Applegate had 13 against Texas Tech on April 23 last season.
Adding in four innings by Joe Flattery on Saturday, K-State received 18 innings from its starters in the Oklahoma series, the most in a three-game set this year and the most in a three-game Big 12 series since totaling 19 against Texas Tech last year.
NEBRASKA AT A GLANCE
Nebraska, which had won 14 of its previous 19 games entering last weekend, stumbled at Northwestern. The Huskers won the series opener, 7-4, but the Wildcats came back with wins of 8-4 and 6-1 to take the series. The weekend series marked the first road games for NU since March 4.
The Huskers, who are hitting .320 as a team, are led at the plate by a .404 average from Michael Pritchard, who also has seven doubles and 10 RBI. Chad Christensen, who is hitting .358, paces the squad in five offensive categories as he is tops in hits (44), runs scored (31), home runs (6), RBI (34) and at-bats (123). Richard Stock, who registered a two-out, two-run single last Tuesday against K-State, is right behind Christensen with a .357 batting average and a team-best nine RBI.
For the second-straight week, Nebraska will send a new starting pitcher to the mound against Kansas State as Tyler King will make his first start of the season. King, a left-hander, has appeared in 14 games this season and holds a 4.26 ERA, but he has yet to factor into a decision. The sophomore has allowed 11 earned runs in 12.2 innings with nine walks and nine strikeouts. King threw 0.2 innings on Friday at Northwestern, allowing a run on two hits with no walks and a strikeout. He has seen action in both games against K-State this season, allowing three runs (one earned) on one hit in an inning on March 6 before surrendering two runs (one earned) on three hits with two walks in two innings last Tuesday.
The Nebraska bullpen is led by Brandon Pierce with 16 appearances, including a start last Tuesday against K-State. Pierce has a 3-1 record and a 1.93 ERA with one save. Travis Huber, who has saves in both games against the Wildcats, leads the team with five this season in 13 outings. Dylan Vogt has also seen action in 14 games, holding a 1-1 record and 2.19 ERA.
THE NEBRASKA SERIES
Tuesday’s matchup between K-State and Nebraska is the season finale of a three-game set between the two teams. K-State will be looking to salvage the final game as Nebraska won, 9-6, on March 6 in Lincoln before topping the Wildcats again, 6-3, last Tuesday at Hawks Field. Nebraska leads the all-time series, 165-106, but K-State will be looking to continue a current four-game home winning streak against Nebraska. The Huskers have not won in Manhattan since a 5-3 game that went 10 innings on March 16, 2008.
Kansas State is 36-187 all-time against current members of the Big Ten, but holds a 30-22 record against the conference outside of its history with Nebraska. K-State swept a two-game series at Minnesota this season, March 13 and 14, by scores of 9-5 and 8-4.
NO PLACE LIKE HOME
Kansas State will be looking for continued success at Tointon Family Stadium, a venue that the Wildcats have been very difficult to defeat. K-State has won at least 20 home games in five of the last seven seasons, including a 78-24 (.765) mark over the last three-plus years. K-State’s home record is even more impressive in non-conference games as the Cats are 50-6 (.893) since 2009 in that category, including a perfect 18-0 mark three years ago.
AGGRESSIVENESS ON THE BASE PATHS
A staple of the K-State offense over the last three seasons is its ability to steal bases, and that aspect of the game is prevalent again in 2012. The Wildcats, who have led the Big 12 in steals over the last three seasons, rank second in the league with 55 this year and enter play this week ranked 12th nationally in that department.
Three Wildcats rank in the top 10 of the Big 12 in steals, including Tanner Witt. The outfielder is tied for third in the league with 13, including a school-record tying four in a game against Hartford. Ross Kivett, who was 3-for-4 last weekend at Oklahoma, is sixth with 12. Jake Brown, the last Wildcat to steal four bases in a game, is right behind Kivett with 11 to tie for seventh.
Junior-college transfer Jon Davis essentially came out of nowhere last weekend, helping the Wildcats defeat No. 24 Oklahoma on Saturday before another stellar game at the plate on Sunday. The Juneau, Alaska, product went 5-for-8 with three doubles and one RBI after recording just one hit and 11 strikeouts in his previous 18 at-bats to begin 2012.
Davis, who transferred from Palomar College after playing his freshman season at Cal State Fullerton, recorded key hits in both games against the Sooners. The junior doubled and scored as part of a two-run eighth inning on Saturday en route to an 8-7 win. On Sunday, Davis recorded a pair of two-out doubles, the first to drive in a run in the second inning and the latter to eventually score the go-ahead run in the seventh.