K-State Steps Out of Conference to Host Sacred Heart
K-State Steps Out of Conference to Host Sacred Heart
April 4, 2012
Thursday, April 5 - Saturday, April 7
Manhattan, Kan. /// Tointon Family Stadium (2,331)
MANHATTAN, Kan. - After facing ranked Big 12 opponents each of the last three weeks, Kansas State will take a break from league action to host Sacred Heart, Thursday through Saturday, April 5-7, at Tointon Family Stadium. The series marks the first-ever matchups between the Wildcats and Pioneers. The three-game set begins with a pair of 6:30 p.m., contests on Thursday and Friday, while Saturday’s series finale is slated for 1 p.m. All three games can be seen world-wide on K-StateHD.TV, which is available at www.k-stateports.com for $9.95 per month and $79.95 per year. The series can be heard in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN with Brian Smoller and Matt Walters on the call, while free live audio is available at both www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.
There are plenty of promotional activities surrounding this weekend’s series as a pregame tailgate will be held 90 minutes prior to first pitch on Friday and Saturday directly behind the stadium off College Avenue. Thursday’s game serves as Youth Team/Camper Night as youth teams and K-State baseball campers receive one free general admission bench ticket (by reservation only). On Friday, K-State faculty and staff can purchase $3 general admission bench tickets as part of K-State Faculty and Staff Night, while Saturday’s game is Wamego Community Night as fans from Wamego can show a valid ID and receive a $3 general admission bench.
K-STATE AT A GLANCE
Kansas State will be looking snap a losing skid as the Wildcats have dropped eight of their last 10 games following Tuesday-night’s 6-0 loss to Nebraska. It marked the first time K-State was shut out since March 18 last season and the first time at home since May 5, 2010, against Minnesota. The loss to the Huskers came on the heels of a series loss at No. 24 Oklahoma when OU took the series opener, 5-1, on Friday night before K-State came back with a thrilling 8-7 win on Saturday. On Sunday, Kansas State took a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth inning as it looked for its first Big 12 series win of the year, but OU recorded a triple and a single to steal a 4-3 win from the Cats.
K-State fields four of the league’s top 14 hitters, but will be looking to bounce back from a four-hit outing on Tuesday, its fewest since three against the Gophers in 2010. Junior outfielder Tanner Witt has led the Wildcat charge recently as he has reached base safely in a career-long 21-straight games. The Hawthorn Woods, Ill., product is 11th in the Big 12 with a .341 batting average. Junior-college transfer Jon Davis has also been on fire as he has started the last three games, going 6-for-11 with three doubles during that stretch.
Sophomore outfielder Jared King leads the Wildcats and ranks third in the Big 12 with a .350 batting average, while senior first baseman Wade Hinkle is seventh in the league at .350. Matt Giller, who saw a career-long eight-game hitting streak come to an end on Tuesday, is tied for 13th in the Big 12 at .333.
The Wildcats will use its regular starting rotation of Matt Applegate on Thursday, Joe Flattery on Friday and Kayvon Bahramzadeh on Saturday. Each produced for K-State last week, giving the Wildcats a chance to win all three games against the Sooners. Applegate worked his first career complete game last Friday but it came in a losing effort as he went eight innings, allowing five runs (three earned) on seven hits with four walks and five strikeouts in eight innings. The right-hander enters the Sacred Heart series with a 2-3 record and a 5.14 ERA.
Flattery, a junior-college transfer, went four innings, allowing four runs with a walk and three strikeouts last week at OU in a no decision. The left-hander has struck out at least three batters in four of his last five starts after just one in his first two outings combined. Bahramzadeh was a strikeout machine last weekend in Norman as he notched a career-best 11 in six innings, allowing two runs on two hits. The right-hander left with the game tied at two.
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.
• K-State leads the Big 12 with a .980 fielding percentage, a mark that ranked 10th nationally entering the week.
• K-State also ranked in the top 12 of the NCAA 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.
• Catcher Dan Klein has more pickoffs this year (six) than seven of the other eight Big 12 teams.
• With a first inning walk on Tuesday, outfielder Tanner Witt extended his career-long streak of consecutive games reaching base safely to 21.
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.
Senior Dan Klein has been one of the nation’s best catchers in terms of controlling the running game as he was tied for first nationally through games on Tuesday with six pickoffs this season. In fact, the Overland Park, Kan., product has the same amount or more pickoffs than 224 of the 296 other Division I teams, including seven of eight other Big 12 squads. Four of Klein’s pickoffs this year have ended innings, while five have come in the last eight games.
As a team, Kansas State had 11 pickoffs through games on Tuesday, which was tied for the eighth most nationally. Kentucky and Alabama A&M led the nation with 13, while five teams had 12.
SACRED HEART AT A GLANCE
Sacred Heart enters the weekend series with a 10-16 record overall, including a 7-5 mark in Northeast Conference play. Despite being six games below .500, the Pioneers have won seven of their last 10, including a victory on Tuesday at home against Yale. Its series this weekend marks the first and only trip for Sacred Heart west of the Mississippi River.
The Pioneers are hitting .278 as a team and are led by junior infielder John Murphy, who is hitting .347 with a team-best five doubles, two triples, one homer and 13 RBI. Matt Charmello, a freshman, is second with a .320 average and a team-leading 14 RBI. Dan Perez, who also has five doubles to tie Murphy for team-high honors, is hitting .300, while Rob Griffith is tops in home runs with two.
Sacred Heart will start a trio of sophomores against K-State as left-hander Nick Leiningen will start Thursday before right-handers Troy Scribner and Kody Kerski will take the hill on Friday and Saturday, respectively. Leiningen is 2-2 this year with a 6.48 ERA in six starts, including three complete games. One of Leiningen’s complete games came last Saturday in the first game of a double header against Fairleigh Dickinson when he worked six innings, allowing two runs on five hits in a losing effort.
Scribner holds a 2-3 record and a 4.67 ERA in six starts. The righty’s last outing came last Friday at Fairleigh Dickinson when he worked six scoreless innings with a walk and four strikeouts, but he did not pick up the win as FDU came back to take the series opener. Kerski, who is 1-3 with a 6.90 ERA, also threw six innings against FDU last weekend, allowing three runs on six hits with three walks and six strikeouts.
The Sacred Heart bullpen is led by left-hander Jeff Stoddard and right-hander Liam Rafferty. Stoddard is 0-2 with a 5.60 ERA, but he picked up the save on Tuesday against Yale. Rafferty has the other Pioneer save this year and is 1-0 with a 4.91 ERA.
THE SACRED HEART SERIES
This weekend’s series marks the first meetings between Kansas State and Sacred Heart, which is the second of three teams the Wildcats will face for the first time in school history this year. K-State swept Hartford in a four-game series in the first-ever meeting between the two schools, while the Wildcats will face another first-time opponent in Nebraska Omaha, May 4-6.
Although the Wildcats are facing the Pioneers for the first time ever, Kansas State is no stranger to the Northeast Conference as it played four games against Long Island (now LIU-Brooklyn) last season. The Wildcats won the first two games against the Blackbirds by final counts of 14-2 and 3-0, but the Blackbirds came back with wins of 4-2 and 6-5 to split the series. Despite the series split, K-State is 9-2 all-time against current NEC members.
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 78-25 (.757) mark over the last three-plus years. K-State’s home record is even more impressive in non-conference games as the Cats are 50-7 (.877) since 2009 in that category, including a perfect 18-0 mark three years ago.
Junior-college transfer Jon Davis has essentially come out of nowhere over the last three games, helping the Wildcats defeat No. 24 Oklahoma on Saturday before two stellar games at the plate on Sunday and Tuesday. The Juneau, Alaska, product has gone went 6-for-11 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.