K-State Travels to Missouri State for Midweek Contest
K-State Travels to Missouri State for Midweek Contest
April 10, 2012
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
Springifield, Mo. /// Hammons Field (8,000)
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Coming off a three-game sweep last weekend, Kansas State will look to continue its winning ways with a midweek contest at Missouri State on Wednesday night beginning at 6 p.m., at Hammons Field in Springfield, Mo. The game, which will be played in a venue that also serves as the home to the Double A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals, can be seen world-wide on K-StateHD.TV via Springfield’s Mediacom broadcast. The contest can also be heard in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN with Brian Smoller and Matt Walters on the call. Free live audio is also available at www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.
The Wildcats enter the contest having won three straight and four of their last six. The game against the Bears is the only one on the road in a 10-game stretch as K-State will return home to host No. 5 Baylor this weekend before playing two next week against Northern Colorado at Tointon Family Stadium.
K-STATE AT A GLANCE
Kansas State will be in search of its second winning streak of at least four games this season on Wednesday as, after falling to Nebraska last Tuesday, the Wildcats came back with a three-game sweep of Sacred Heart last weekend. K-State won the Thursday-night contest, 9-7, thanks to a two-run homer by Wade Hinkle in the seventh inning that broke a 7-7 tie. On Friday, Joe Flattery and Matt Wivinis combined to strike out 13 Pioneer hitters as K-State went on to a 6-1 win. In the series finale, the Wildcats earned their first shutout win of the season when Kayvon Bahramzadeh, Robert Youngdahl and Jake Doller teamed to allow just three hits in a 7-0 victory.
The Wildcats are hitting a shade under .300 as a team at .295 and are led by a group of four players that rank highly in the Big 12 in Jared King, Tanner Witt, Hinkle and Matt Giller. King leads K-State and ranks third in the conference with a .388 average thanks to a 4-for-5 contest on Saturday. Witt is right behind King at .360 to sit fifth, while the junior has reached base in 24-straight games dating back to March 2 against Pacific. The streak is the second-longest in the league, while Witt is hitting .405 and holds a .505 on-base percentage during that span. Hinkle is 10th in the Big 12 with a .349 batting average, and he also leads the squad and is tied for third in the league with six home runs this season. Giller, a fifth-year senior, is hitting a career-best .329 and has started 10 of the last 12 at third base.
K-State is expected to start left-hander Jared Moore on Wednesday. The sophomore will be making his 11th appearance of the year - including his fourth start - as he holds a 2-2 record and a 6.33 ERA. It will mark his first outing since starting the Nebraska game last Tuesday when he allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits with a walk and two strikeouts. His best start of the year came in a predetermined pitch-count start on March 14 at Minnesota when he took the win after allowing a run on three hits with no walks and three strikeouts in three innings.
The Wildcat bullpen is paced by three pitchers who have appeared in at least 12 games in freshmen Youngdahl and Nate Williams, as well as junior Jake Doller. Youngdahl has seen time in a team-high 16 games, including a pair of outings last weekend against Sacred Heart when he took the win on Thursday before Saturday’s shutout. Williams leads the team with four saves in 13 appearances, while Doller has seen time in 12 games and is riding a 6.1-inning scoreless streak over his last three outings.
DID YOU KNOW
• Kansas State head coach Brad Hill notched his 700th career head coaching victory last Friday.
• K-State leads the Big 12 with a .982 fielding percentage, a mark that ranked fourth nationally entering the week.
• The Wildcats also ranked in the top 15 of the NCAA in three other categories, including steals (6th), on-base percentage (8th) and walks (14th).
• K-State has a .400 or better on-base percentage in 16 games this season, holding a 14-2 record in those games.
• The Wildcats have worked at least five walks in 17 games this year, going 12-5 in those games.
• Catcher Dan Klein has more pickoffs this year (six) than seven of the other eight Big 12 teams.
• Outfielder Tanner Witt has reached base safely in a career-best 24-straight games, the second-longest streak in the Big 12 this season.
• Sophomore Jared King needs one hit to become the 75th player in school history with 100 in a career.
• King has a team-leading 15 multi-hit games this season, which is tied for the second-most in the Big 12.
HITTING THE CENTURY MARK
Sophomore Jared King enters the Missouri State game with 99 career hits in 79 games, needing just one more to become the 75th player in K-State history to reach the century mark. However, the Dublin, Ohio, product will get to 100 hits quicker than most in program history. Comparing King to players in the school’s career top 10 in hits, he needs a hit in his first at-bat against the Bears to tie for the fastest to 100 in terms of at-bats (293). Also, if he records a hit against MSU on Wednesday, he would be the second-fastest in terms of games.
MISSOURI STATE AT A GLANCE
Missouri State, which is receiving votes in this week’s USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ and NCBWA polls, enters the midweek contest with a 24-10 record, including an 11-2 mark at Hammons Field. The Bears will be looking to bounce back from a series loss at Bradley last weekend, winning the middle game by a count of 12-2, but dropping the Friday and Sunday contests by scores of 2-1 and 4-3, respectively.
MSU is hitting .275 as a team and are led by senior Spiker Helms’ .311 average. The infielder also leads the team with 16 doubles. Kevin Medrano and Luke Voit are second on the squad at .307. Brent Seifert, who is hitting .290, leads the team in both home runs (5) and RBI (29), while Trey Massenberg has a team-best five triples.
Missouri State will start right-hander Jake Powers on Wednesday. In five outings this year, including a pair of starts, the sophomore holds a 1-0 record and an 8.49 ERA as he has allowed 11 earned runs on 15 hits with four walks and 13 strikeouts in 11.2 innings.
Powers’ last appearance was a start last Wednesday against Arkansas State. He allowed four runs on eight hits in six innings, but the former Illinois-Chicago transfer struck out nine batters and allowed just two walks to pick up the win.
The Bear bullpen is led by a pair of freshmen in Tyler Burgess and Zach Merciez. Burgess, who has come out of the pen on 11 occasions, is 3-0 with a 1.59 ERA and a team-best six saves. The Wildcats will most likely face Burgess as he has not thrown since last Tuesday against the Wolves, picking up the save after pitching a scoreless ninth inning with a strikeout. Merciez is 0-2 with a 3.76 ERA and two saves in a team-best 12 outings this year.
THE MISSOURI STATE SERIES
Wednesday’s matchup marks the 21st in the series between Kansas State and Missouri State as the Wildcats hold a slim 11-9 lead. Last season, K-State won a 10-4 decision in Manhattan, the first game between the two clubs since 2006. K-State scored six times in the third inning and then-freshman Ross Kivett notched a career high with four hits and also drove in three runs. Tanner Witt also recorded two hits in the contest and drove in a run.
The trip to Springfield, Mo., by the Wildcats will be the first since 1992 when Kansas State swept a doubleheader by scores of 7-5 and 14-5. Outside of the twin bill, wins by Kansas State in Springfield are slim as the Bears hold a 5-3 advantage.
Kansas State is 99-100-1 all-time against current members of the Missouri Valley Conference. MSU is K-State’s third-most played opponent in the MVC as it is 31-49 against Wichita State and 46-37-1 against Creighton. The Wildcats and Bluejays were scheduled to play on March 20 this season, but that game was rained out. K-State will host Wichita State on April 24 before making the return trip to Wichita on May 1.
THROW ‘EM THE CHAIR
The Kansas State pitching staff has been dominant lately in terms of strikeouts as it has averaged 10.4 strikeouts per game over its last five contests. K-State has nine 10-plus strikeout games this year, including three in the last five games. Through games on Sunday, the Cats ranked second in the Big 12 in strikeouts per nine innings at 7.7, while they’ve seen their national ranking in that department jump from 215th on March 4 to 57th this week.
Leading the way has been senior starter Kayvon Bahramzadeh. In the series finale at Oklahoma, the right-hander notched a career-best 11 strikeouts, and he came back with a seven-strikeout performance last Saturday against Sacred Heart. The Tucson, Ariz., product now has 42 strikeouts this season, bettering his career best of 40 in 2010. Another senior starter, Matt Applegate, also has 42 strikeouts this season and 165 in his career to rank 10th in school history and fourth among active Big 12 pitchers.
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 the last three seasons, ranked second in the Big 12 through play last week with 74, just five back of first-place Texas A&M. The Wildcats enter play this week ranked sixth nationally in that department and they are nine steals shy of entering the school’s top 10. K-State has hit the four-steal mark in 12 games, going 10-2 in those contests.
Four Wildcats rank in the top eight of the Big 12 in steals, including sophomore Ross Kivett, who is second with 16. Right behind Kivett with 15 to tie for third is Tanner Witt, while Jared King and Jake Brown are tied for eighth with 12 apiece.
Junior-college transfer Jon Davis has essentially come out of nowhere over the last six games, helping K-State go 4-2 in his six-straight starts. The Juneau, Alaska, product has gone 9-for-19 with three doubles, two RBI, four hit-by-pitches and three steals after recording just one hit and 11 strikeouts in his first 18 at-bats of 2012.
Davis, who transferred from Palomar College after playing his freshman season at Cal State Fullerton, has reached base at a .565 clip during his recent run after just a .250 on-base percentage in his first 10 games of 2012. The junior recorded a key hit to help the Wildcats top No. 24 Oklahoma on April 30 as he doubled and scored as part of a two-run eighth inning en route to an 8-7 win.