K-State Concludes Homestand with No. 7 Oklahoma
K-State Concludes Homestand with No. 7 Oklahoma
April 7, 2011
Friday, April 8 - Sunday, April 10
Manhattan, Kan. /// Tointoin Family Stadium (2,331)
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Coming off its first home conference series of the season, Kansas State remains at Tointon Family Stadium to face its fourth-straight ranked opponent, including its third top-10 foe, as the Wildcats host No. 7 Oklahoma, Friday through Sunday, April 8-10. The series marks the first time under head coach Brad Hill that the Cats will play four-straight teams ranked in the top 25 to open Big 12 play. The three-game set begins Friday at 6:30 p.m., before a 2 p.m. first pitch on Saturday. The series concludes on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Friday's contest can be heard across the K-State Sports Network with Wyatt Thompson, Brian Smoller and Matt Walters on the call, while the final two games of the series will be broadcast in Manhattan on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN. All three games can be heard online for free at www.k-statesports.com, while a live webcast of the entire series is available through K-State's multimedia channel, K-State All-Access at www.k-statesports.com.
Kansas State enters the weekend series after dropping a pair of games last week to No. 5 Texas A&M. K-State held a 2-0 lead through three innings on Friday, but the Aggies scored twice in the fourth and four times in the fifth, thanks in part to three-straight infield singles and a bases-clearing triple, for a 6-3 victory. The Wildcats looked poised to even the series at one game apiece on Saturday when they spotted Texas A&M a 3-0 lead before tying the game on a RBI double in the seventh inning. But the Aggies drew a leadoff walk and recorded a run-scoring double in the ninth to win 4-3.
Trying to salvage the final game of the series, the two teams were tied at four until a four-run K-State fifth inning slammed the door on the Aggies en route to a 9-4 victory. The Wildcats were able to scratch across two runs in the frame on a pair of wild pitches before freshman Jared King hit his first career home run, a two-run shot over the wall in right-center field. King came back to drive in the final run of the contest when he doubled in the seventh inning.
Nick Martini continues to lead the K-State offense with a .354 batting average. He also broke the NCAA record for consecutive games reaching base at 87 on Sunday as he went 3-for-5 with two RBI in the contest. Martini, who ranks eighth in the Big 12 in batting average, is also third in walks (21), fourth in on-base percentage (.486) and sixth in stolen bases (10). Jason King and Wade Hinkle have been a force in the middle of the batting order as they have combined to go 20-for-50 with 10 extra base hits - including four King home runs - and 16 RBI over the past eight games.
For the fourth-straight weekend, the Cats are slated to start a trio of junior pitchers in Kyle Hunter on Friday, Matt Applegate on Saturday and Kayvon Bahramzadeh on Sunday. Hunter is 2-2 with a 3.10 ERA and has recorded at least six strikeouts in each of his last six starts. However, the left-hander has not picked up a win since March 11 as he has a pair of losses and a no decision since the beginning of conference play. Applegate, who holds a 3-1 record and a 3.00 ERA, has been a solid Saturday starter for K-State as he has lasted at least seven innings in three of his last five starts, including a 7.2-inning outing last weekend against Texas A&M. He too has not picked up a win since the middle of March as he has three no-decisions to begin Big 12 action. Bahramzadeh, who is 1-0 with a 3.91 ERA, earned his first start of the season at the beginning of league play after seeing middle relief duty in his first five appearances of 2011.
DID YOU KNOW
• Propelled 7.61 strikeouts per nine innings, which ranks fourth in the Big 12, the Wildcats have 209 this year and are on pace for 450, which would be three shy of the school record set in 2009.
• Kansas State is second in the Big 12 in strikeout differential (209 pitching strikeouts minus 144 hitting strikeouts) at +65.
• K-State has the third-most drafted players on its roster in the Big 12 with eight, behind only Texas (16) and Oklahoma St. (12).
• After starting the season 4-1 in one-run games, Kansas State has dropped its last five games decided by one run.
• Jason and Jared King is the only set of brothers nationally to homer in the same game this season as they hit a solo- and two-run home run, respectively, in last Sunday's win over No. 5 Texas A&M.
• After starting conference play 0-for-15, Jason King is 10 for his last 22 during Big 12 play with two home runs and five RBI.
• Nick Martini's 87-game streak of reaching base safely is a new NCAA record. The streak has continued on a hit 72 times, while the junior has a .501 on-base percentage and a .399 batting average during that span.
• Junior Jake Brown is the midst of a career-best eight-game hitting streak. The second baseman is 10-for-24 (.417) with two doubles and is 2-for-2 in stolen base attempts during that span.
• James Allen has eight saves this season after nine a year ago. With 22 career saves, the junior is just the second K-State closer to reach the 20-save plateau in a career after Daniel Edwards had 26 from 2005 to 2008.
The 2011 Wildcats have taken on their most difficult conference-opening schedule since the formation of the conference as Kansas State faces the top four teams in the 2011 Big 12 Preseason Coaches' Poll in the first four weekends of play. The schedule featured trips to Texas (second) and Baylor (fourth) in each of the first two weekends, followed by home series against Texas A&M (third) and Oklahoma (first). Nationally speaking, Texas was ranked fifth when K-State played the Longhorns, while Baylor was 21st and Texas A&M was also fifth. Oklahoma is ranked as high as seventh entering the weekend series.
K-State has faced two of the top four teams during the first month of conference action three other years since 1999, the last being in 2006 when it played host Nebraska (second) and then played Texas (first) the following week.
Kansas State has put together an impressive resume in home games since the beginning of the 2009 season. K-State, which has won at least 20 home games in four of the last six seasons, holds a 54-17 (.760) record over the past two-plus years. K-State's home conference record is also impressive since the beginning of the 2009 season as the Cats are 17-13, including a 10-4 mark in 2010.
OKLAHOMA AT A GLANCE
Ranked as high as seventh in this week's NCBWA poll, Oklahoma enters this weekend with a 23-6 overall record, including a 5-3 mark in Big 12 play. The Sooners as coming off a three-game home sweep of Texas Tech, winning by scores of 10-1, 11-1 and 8-5. OU then took a non-conference game over Oklahoma State, 8-3, in Norman on Tuesday.
Oklahoma, which is hitting .337 as a team, leads the Big 12 and is fifth nationally in batting average, while the Sooners are seventh in the NCAA in both hits and runs scored. Junior infielder Garrett Buechele paces OU at the plate as he is hitting .430 with seven homers and 41 RBI, which leads the conference in all three categories. Behind Buechele at .382 is outfielder Casey Johnson, who also has three doubles, a home run and 11 RBI. Junior infielder Cameron Seitzer, who is hitting .349, paces the team in doubles with 11, while catcher Tyler Ogle is second on the team in home runs with four.
The Sooners are expected to start a trio of right-handers this weekend in Michael Rocha on Friday, Bobby Shore on Saturday and Burch Smith on Sunday. Rocha is 7-0 with a 0.97 ERA and two complete games in seven starts this year. The senior has allowed just six earned runs in 55.2 innings of work, while walking six and striking out 47. One of his complete games came last week against Texas Tech when he allowed one run on three hits with a walk and five fanned batters.
Shore, who is 2-1 with a 4.75 ERA, has seen time in nine games, including seven starts. Another senior, Shore threw just 3.2 scoreless innings last Saturday against Tech with two walks and six strikeouts. Burch, a transfer from Howard College, is 4-2 with a 4.06 ERA after taking the win last Sunday. He allowed three Red Raider runs on four hits with 12 strikeouts in five innings.
THE OKLAHOMA SERIES
Oklahoma leads the all-time series against Kansas State, 181-67-1, including a 79-43 mark in Manhattan. K-State has won just one contest against the Sooners in each of the last six seasons, and the Cats have not won consecutive games over or taken a series from OU since 2001. Last season in Norman, No. 15 Oklahoma took the Friday-night contest, 14-3, after scoring six runs over the first two innings. But the 20th-ranked Wildcats were able to tie the series at a game apiece on Saturday, winning 14-9 behind eight two-out RBI in the contest. OU came back to win the series, 15-11, on Sunday before taking a 13-2 decision during pool play at the Big 12 Championship.
Two years ago in Manhattan, the Wildcats won a convincing 9-1 game on Friday night as they received a 12-strikeout performance from All-American A.J. Morris and scored five times in the sixth inning. K-State looked poised to win the series on Saturday as it had the tying and winning runs in scoring position in the ninth inning, but OU snuck out a 12-11 victory before taking the series with a win on Sunday.
RECENT POWER SURGE
Jason King, who is coming off an injury that forced him to miss the entire 2010 season, has caught his stride over the past six games. After suffering through an 0-for-15 stretch in three games at No. 5 Texas and his first four at-bats at No. 21 Baylor, King is 13 for his last 28 (.464) with two doubles, four home runs and 13 RBI, while he also holds a .964 slugging percentage during that stretch.
King's hot hitting began with a fourth-inning single during the second game of the Baylor series, a game in which he hit a go-ahead two-run homer in the eighth inning to fuel a win. He exploded for two home runs - a grand slam and a two-run shot - and a sacrifice fly last Wednesday against Northern Colorado to total seven RBI, the most by a Wildcat since 2006. He then went 2-for-5 and 1-for-4 in the first two games of last weekend's Texas A&M series before a single and a solo-home run in the Wildcats' 9-4 win last Sunday over the Aggies.
MARTINI FINDS A WAY TO GET ON BASE
Junior outfielder Nick Martini broke an amazing streak last Sunday against Texas A&M as he has now reached base safely (by virtue of a hit, walk or hit-by-pitch) in 87 consecutive games. He broke the known Division I record held by Elon's Cory Harrilchak, who reached in 86-straight games from April 4, 2008-May 21, 2009.
The Prairie Ridge, Ill., product reached base in the final game of 2009, in all 59 games last season and the first 27 contests of 2011. Martini led three other players - including Florida International's Garrett Wittels - who had streaks at least 45 games earlier this season, but all three lost their streak last month.
During Martini's run, the junior holds an on-base percentage of .501 and has continued the streak with a hit 72 times. Even more impressive is the fact that Martini has reached base safely in 137 of his 147 career starts, while he has recorded at least one hit in 115 of those games.
HUNTER, APPLEGATE ARE K-STATE'S 1-2 PUNCH
Kansas State's top two starting pitchers - Kyle Hunter and Matt Applegate - have combined to register seven quality outings in their last 10 total starts. The duo has combined for a 4-2 record and a 2.67 ERA over the past five weekends, surrendering 19 earned runs in a combined 64.0 innings of work. They also struck out 59 batters as opposed to 16 walks.
Applegate, who came within two outs of throwing K-State's first no-hitter since 1976 against Long Island, has been stellar over his last four starts against the Blackbirds, at No. 5 Texas, at No. 21 Baylor and vs. No. 5 Texas A&M as he has allowed just seven earned runs on 19 hits with six walks and 17 fanned batters over 26.2 innings.
Against Long Island, Hunter struck out a career-high 12 batters, bettering his eight-strikeout performance from the week prior. His 12 strikeouts were the most since A.J. Morris had 12 against Oklahoma in 2009. Hunter also tallied six fanned batters at No. 5 Texas, at No. 21 Baylor and vs. No. 5 Texas A&M, extending his streak of at least six strikeouts to five games. Prior to his 12-strikeout performance against Long Island, he had eight against Western Illinois and seven at Coastal Carolina.