Cats Set to Face Pair of Missouri Valley Foes
Cats Set to Face Pair of Missouri Valley Foes
April 11, 2011
Tuesday, April 12 - Wednesday, April 13
Omaha, Neb. /// CU Sports Complex (1,000) /// Manhattan, Kan. /// Tointon Family Stadium (2,331)
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Fresh off a series win over No. 7 Oklahoma, Kansas State beings a busy week with two games against Missouri Valley teams this Tuesday and Wednesday, April 12 and 13. The Cats start their week on Tuesday in Omaha, Neb., with a 3 p.m. contest against Creighton at the CU Sports Complex. K-State then returns home on Wednesday to face in-state rival Wichita State beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Tointon Family Stadium. Both contests can be heard in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN and online at www.k-statesports.com. The game against the Shockers will be televised throughout the state of Kansas on Cox’s Kansas 22 and in the Kansas City area on Metro Sports as part of the WSU television package.
Kansas State enters the week on a high note after taking two-of-three from the seventh-ranked Sooners last weekend in Manhattan, its first series win over OU since 2001. Pitching propelled the Cats past to a series-opening win on Friday night as Kyle Hunter and James Allen combined to shut out Oklahoma, while K-State scored single runs in the second and fifth innings en route to a 2-0 win. Hunter and Allen allowed just five hits with three walks and four strikeouts to send the Wildcats to their first shutout of Oklahoma since March 31, 1990. Hunter’s efforts led him to being named Big 12 Pitcher of the Week.
Oklahoma came back to even the series on Saturday with a 14-3 victory, setting up a crucial rubber match for the Wildcats Sunday afternoon. The Cats trailed early in the series finale after OU scored single runs in the second and third innings. Following a scoreless fourth, K-State plated five run in the fifth, thanks to a few Sooner miscues. A walk and two bunts allowed the first three batters to reach, but a Sooner throwing error on the second bunt brought home a run. Tanner Witt then recorded a squeeze bunt for another run before a balk scored the third run of the inning. With the bases loaded and two outs, freshman Jared King punched a two-run single up the middle and into center field to put K-State up 5-2 on its way to a 6-2 series-clinching victory.
The win would not have been possible if it weren’t for the efforts of relief pitcher Evan Marshall, who entered in the game in the third inning and went on to retire 10 of the next 12 batters he faced with three strikeouts.
The 2010 Big 12 Player of the Year, Nick Martini, paces the Wildcat offense again this season as he is hitting .337 with 10 extra base hits and 19 RBI. He also has a team-high 24 walks and has been hit by six pitches to hold a .478 on-base percentage, which ranks third in the Big 12. He also extended his NCAA record of consecutive games reaching base to 90 last weekend against OU as he had one hit, walked three times and was also hit by two pitches. Jared King is second on the squad with a .301 average, while his brother Jason King leads the team in both home runs (6) and RBI (27).
Kansas State is scheduled to start right-hander Justin Lindsey at Creighton on Tuesday and left-hander Blake Freeman against Wichita State on Wednesday. Lindsey is 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA in six appearances, which includes five starts. His last start was against Northern Colorado two weeks ago when he pitched four scoreless innings, allowing three hits with a walk and three strikeouts in a predetermined pitch-count start. Freeman is 1-1 with a 2.53 ERA in six outings, including a pair of starts. The freshman’s last start was also against Northern Colorado in a predetermined three-inning start when he earned the win after allowing an unearned run on three hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
DID YOU KNOW
• Head coach Brad Hill is two wins shy of 250 at Kansas State. He would become the second coach in school history to hit the 250-win plateau after Mike Clark tallied 435 victories from 1987-2003.
• Propelled 7.46 strikeouts per nine innings, which ranks fourth in the Big 12, the Wildcats have 227 this year and are on pace for 424, which would rank third in school history.
• Kansas State is second in the Big 12 in strikeout differential (227 pitching strikeouts minus 163 hitting strikeouts) at +64.
• 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).
• 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 a win over No. 5 Texas A&M.
• Nick Martini’s 90-game streak of reaching base safely is a new NCAA record. He has recorded a hit 73 times during the streak, while the junior has a .500 on-base percentage and a .392 batting average during that span.
• Freshman outfielder Jared King is currently riding a five-game hitting streak in which he is 9-for-18 with a pair of doubles, a home run and six RBI. He is also 2-for-3 in stolen base attempts during that stretch.
• James Allen has tied his career high with nine saves this season. With 23 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 2005-08.
Kansas State has excelled against non-conference opponents over the past two-plus seasons, a big reason the Wildcats reached back-to-back regionals in 2009 and 2010. After going 14-4 in the first 18 non-con games of 2011, Kansas State is 174-58 (.750) in non-conference games under head coach Brad Hill, including a 66-21 (.759) mark since 2009.
In regular season non-conference games, the Cats have been even tougher as they are 166-47 (.779) over the past seven-plus years and a combined 60-14 (.811) over the past two-plus seasons.
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 56-18 (.757) record over the past two-plus years. K-State’s home non-conference record is also impressive since the beginning of the 2009 season as the Cats are 38-4, including a perfect 18-0 mark in 2010. The only losses since the 2009 season are one to both Creighton and Minnesota in 2010 and a pair to Long Island earlier this season.
CREIGHTON AT A GLANCE
Creighton, which is receiving votes in this week’s USA Today/ESPN Coaches’ and NCBWA polls, enters the week with a 22-7 overall record and a 2-1 mark in Missouri Valley play after winning a series at Illinois State last weekend. The Bluejays dropped the Friday-night contest, 5-4, but came back to take the series with wins of 8-2 and 6-5 the next two days.
CU is paced offensively by senior outfielder Trevor Adams, who is hitting .385 with 21 extra-base hits, including a team-high eight homers, while he also leads the team in RBI (39) and stolen bases (11). Behind Adams at .345 is sophomore Alex Staehely, who has a team-high 16 doubles, while junior Michael Mutcheson is also hitting above .300 at .308.
The Bluejays are scheduled to start right-hander Brandon Koenigstein on Tuesday. The junior is 0-1 with a 10.43 ERA in seven appearances, including four starts, but he will be making his first start since March 22. In that outing against BYU, Koenigstein allowed seven runs on seven hits in just one inning of work.
WICHITA STATE AT A GLANCE
Prior to its Tuesday night contest against Nebraska, Wichita State entered the week at 21-13 after dropping a series at Missouri State last weekend. The Bears won on Friday, 8-6, before WSU evened the series with a 3-1 win on Saturday. MSU took the rubber match with a 8-7 Sunday victory.
Junior Chris O’Brien, who is hitting .406, leads the Shockers offensively with team highs in doubles (15), home runs (5) and RBI (43). However, O’Brien is the only Shocker over .300 as Tyler Grimes is second at .292. Grimes does lead three players with 10 or mores steals as he has swiped 19 bags this year. Wichita State has not declared a starter for Wednesday.
THE CREIGHTON SERIES
Kansas State owns a 46-36-1 record all-time against Creighton, but the Wildcats will be looking to pick up their first win over the Bluejays since March 2009. The Cats won their 2009 home opener over Creighton, 12-1, but then dropped a 5-1 decision at Rosenblatt Stadium a month later. The two teams only met once last year - the first time since 2007 they did not play twice in a season - as Creighton took a 7-4 win in Manhattan. After playing at Rosenblatt Stadium in each of their last two visits to Omaha, K-State will face the Bluejays at the CU Sports Complex for the first time since 2006 when the Cats earned a 5-4 come-from-behind victory. Tuesday’s game marks the final contest for Creighton at the CU Sports Complex as they will play the rest of their home slate at TD Ameritrade Park.
THE WICHITA STATE SERIES
Wichita State holds a 47-29 edge over Kansas State in the all-time series, but the Wildcats have held their own recently as they have won nine of the last 12 contests against the Shockers, including five-straight wins. K-State dropped the first game of the 2008 series, 4-3, at home before winning a 3-2 contest in Wichita later that year. The Cats then swept the 2009 series by scores of 13-5 and 4-3, before taking both games in 2010 by counts of 8-3 and 7-4. The back-to-back season sweeps over WSU was the first since the 1952 and 1953 seasons. The series in Manhattan is tied at 17 games apiece.
CATCH US IF YOU CAN
After leading the Big 12 in stolen bases each of the past two seasons, Kansas State is at it again as the Cats have 63 steals to tie for second in the league. Of its 63 swipes, 49 have come in its 17 home games (2.9 per game), including 12 in one game against Long Island. The Cats’ performance vs. the Blackbirds bettered their 10-steal outings against Creighton in 1979 and Chicago State last year. Junior infielder Jake Brown led the charge against LIU with four swipes, tying the school record held by eight different players. The last Wildcat to have four steals was Nate Tenbrink against Le Moyne on March 9, 2008.
Nick Martini leads the team with 12 stolen bases after a pair last weekend against Oklahoma to tie for sixth in the Big 12. Jake Brown and Tanner Witt are each tied for eighth in the league with 10 apiece, while Jared King, Jason King and Mike Kindel have at least five this season.