Kansas State Set for Matchup with Nebraska
Kansas State Set for Matchup with Nebraska
April 15, 2011
Saturday, April 16 - Monday, April 18
Lincoln, Neb. /// Hawks Field (8,486)
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Entering the midway point of its Big 12 schedule, Kansas State travels north to take on Nebraska, Saturday through Monday, April 16-18, at Hawks Field at Haymarket Park. The weekend schedule was adjusted due to the high chance of rain on Friday, while the series marks the final time K-State will face Nebraska as a conference opponent in the regular season as the Huskers will move to the Big Ten next year. Saturday's contest is scheduled for 3:05 p.m., while the final two games of the series are slated for a 1:05 p.m., first pitch. All three games can be heard in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN with Wyatt Thompson and Matt Walters on the call. Free live audio of the series is also available online at both www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.
The Cats are coming off a midweek split between Creighton and Wichita State. K-State dropped a game at Creighton 7-6, on Tuesday in the final game ever played at the CU Sports Complex. The Wildcats held a 4-3 in the seventh, but committed two crucial errors in the bottom half that led to three Bluejay runs. Wade Hinkle tied the game at six with a two-run homer in the top of the ninth, but the Cats walked in the game-winning run the next half inning to fall, 7-6.
In search of a quick rebound the next evening in Manhattan, Kansas State spotted Wichita State two first-inning runs. After a scoreless second, K-State scored twice in the third inning to tie the game before Mike Kindel's two-out, two-run homer gave K-State the lead at 4-2. Kindel also singled and scored in the eighth en route to a 5-2 victory. The Wildcat pitching staff was also stellar as four pitchers combined to limit the Shockers to just one hit and three walks after the first frame.
Nick Martini leads the K-State offense this season with a .330 average, nine doubles and 20 RBI, while he is also 12-for-15 in stolen base attempts. The outfielder, who holds a career on-base percentage of .466, has drawn a team-high 24 walks and has been hit by six pitches this season. He also extended his streak of consecutive games reaching base to 92 this week with a single hit in each contest. Jake Brown, who is ninth in the Big 12 with a .359 conference batting average, is hitting .279 overall. Junior third baseman Jason King leads the team in both home runs (6) and RBI (28), while Kindel is hitting .455 with two home runs over his last four contests. Freshman infielder Ross Kivett had eight starts as the team's designated hitter before earning the nod at second base on Wednesday. Kivett holds a five-game hitting streak as he is 5-for-8 over that span.
Kansas State is expected to start Kyle Hunter on Saturday and Matt Applegate on Sunday, while the Wildcats have not determined a starter for Monday's series finale. Hunter is coming off an impressive performance against No. 7 Oklahoma last Friday in which he threw 7.2 scoreless innings, surrendering just four hits and three walks with two strikeouts en route to Big 12 Pitcher of the Week honors. The left-hander was able to silence a team that was riding a five-game winning streak in which it scored 11.6 runs on 15 hits per game over that stretch. On the flip side, Applegate will be looking to bounce back after taking the loss last Saturday as the right-hander allowed seven runs on eight hits with two walks and four strikeouts in 4.2 innings. Applegate is still in search of his first conference victory this season as he is 0-1 with three no decisions.
DID YOU KNOW
The next Kansas State victory represents the 250th for head coach Brad Hill during his tenure in Manhattan. He would become the second coach in school history to hit the 250-win plateau after Mike Clark tallied 435 victories from 1987-2003.
Last weekend's series victory over Oklahoma was the first over OU since 2001, while Friday night's shutout of the Sooners was the first since 1990.
Propelled 7.48 strikeouts per nine innings, which ranks fourth in the Big 12, the Wildcats have 242 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 (242 pitching strikeouts minus 175 hitting strikeouts) at +67.
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 92-game streak of reaching base safely is believed to be a new NCAA record. He has recorded a hit in 75 games during the streak, while the junior has a .495 on-base percentage and a .389 batting average during that span.
James Allen set a new career high with 10 saves this season. With 24 career saves, the junior is just two away from tying both the school's single-season (12; 2008) and career (26; 2005-08) marks held by Daniel Edwards.
Freshman infielder Ross Kivett is currently riding a team-high five-game hitting streak. During that span, Kivett is 6-for-12 with a walk and three runs scored.
SOLID STARTING PITCHING
Kansas State's top two starting pitchers - Kyle Hunter and Matt Applegate - have combined to register eight quality outings in their last 12 total starts. The duo has combined for a 5-3 record and a 3.07 ERA over the past six weeks, surrendering 26 earned runs in a combined 76.1 innings of work. They also struck out 65 batters as opposed to 21 walks.
Hunter notched his first Big 12 win of the season last week against No. 7 Oklahoma, helping the Cats shutout the Sooners for the first time since March 31, 1990, while he earned Big 12 Pitcher of the Week honors. Hunter registered a new season high in innings pitched and tied his career high with 119 pitches thrown. He allowed just four hits in 23 at-bats (.174) against a team that led the league with a .337 batting average entering the weekend, while he limited OU to fewer than five hits for just the fourth time this season. He also stifled an opponent that had a five-game winning streak entering the series in which it scored 11.6 runs and tallied 15 hits per game.
Applegate was two outs away from recording K-State's first no-hitter since 1976 against Long Island, while he has gone at least five innings and limited opponents to three earned runs or less in three of his four Big 12 starts. Applegate's best performance was against No. 5 Texas A&M when he threw 7.2 innings, allowing three runs on seven hits with six strikeouts.
NEBRASKA AT A GLANCE
Just like Kansas State, Nebraska enters the midweek series after defeating Wichita State as the Huskers took a Tuesday-night game in Wichita, 5-4. But NU will be looking to rebound in conference action as it dropped a series at Kansas last weekend. The Jayhawks edged Nebraska, 5-4, in the first game before NU came back to even the series with a 4-2 victory. KU used three multi-run innings in the rubber match to win, 11-5.
Nebraska, which is hitting .285 as a team, is led by junior infielder Cody Asche, who is hitting .346 with conference highs in both doubles (18) and home runs (9), while he is second in the conference with 41 RBI. Right behind Asche with a .345 average is sophomore Kash Kalkowski, who also has 13 extra-base hits with 29 RBI and leads the squad in both stolen bases (8) and hit-by-pitches (15). Kurt Farmer (.339) and Chad Christensen (.301) round out the Huskers regulars that are hitting above .300.
The Huskers are scheduled to start Matt Freeman on Saturday and Jon Keller on Sunday, while NU is undecided on a Monday starter. Freeman, a senior right-hander, is 4-3 with a 4.14 ERA in nine appearances, including seven starts. He took the loss in the series opener at Kansas last weekend in which he surrendered five runs on six hits with three strikeouts in 4.1 innings of work. Freeman is riding a two-game losing streak as his last victory came on March 25 against Texas Tech in a seven-inning outing, allowing five runs on eight hits with six fanned batters.
Keller is 2-3 on the year with a 2.43 ERA in eight starts. Last weekend in Lawrence, he allowed one run on four hits with two walks and a strikeout, but was lifted after just 2.2 innings. Logan Ehlers, who started the Sunday game last weekend at Kansas, is a candidate to earn the nod on Monday. The freshman left-hander, who made his first appearances of the year, gave up eight runs, only three of which were earned, on five hits with a walk and two strikeouts in 4.1 innings of work.
THE NEBRASKA SERIES
Nebraska leads the all-time series between the two schools, 161-105, including an 83-37 mark in Lincoln, but the Cats have been tough as of late. Kansas State has won six of its last seven against the Huskers, the most wins by the Cats in the series since also winning six of seven over the 1992 and 1993 seasons. After being swept at home by NU and also dropping a game to the Huskers in the Big 12 Championship in 2008, K-State swept Nebraska in Lincoln in 2009 before winning two of three at home last year and a non-conference game earlier this season.
The two teams did battle on March 16 in Manhattan as the Cats spotted the Huskers a 5-0 lead through two and a half innings. K-State responded in the bottom of the third with a three-run homer by Mike Kindel before the Wildcats took the lead two innings later on another three-run shot by Kent Urban. The bullpen also came through for K-State as Jared Moore, Tyler Sturges, Shawn Lewick and James Allen combined to throw four innings of no-hit ball.
A CALL TO THE PEN
Not to be outdone by the starters, the Wildcat bullpen has been extremely effective over Kansas State's last four wins. In those victories, the relievers have combined to allow just one earned run on eight hits in 20.1 innings with three walks and 19 strikeouts. Evan Marshall picked up the win in relief last Sunday against No. 7 Oklahoma when he worked 3.2 scoreless inning, allowing just one hit with a walk and three strikeouts. Jared Moore also picked up a Sunday relief victory over No. 5 Texas A&M when he threw 1.1 scoreless frames.
James Allen, who has three saves over the last four Wildcat victories, combined with Marshall and Kayvon Bahramzadeh for perhaps the best bullpen effort of the season on Wednesday against Wichita State. The trio allowed just one hit over the final 5.1 innings with eight strikeouts as they retired 15 of the final 17 Shocker batters in the ballgame.
AGGRESSIVE ON THE BASE PATHS
A staple of the K-State offense over the past two seasons, the Wildcats are third in the Big 12 with 65 steals and were ninth nationally entering the week with 2.1 steals per game. K-State has averaged two steals per game over its last 13 contests, while the Cats are also using their legs to get on base with 16 infield singles during that stretch.
Of the Wildcats' 65 swipes, 50 have come in their 18 home games (2.8 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.
Nick Martini leads the team with 12 stolen bases after a pair last weekend against Oklahoma and is seventh 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.