K-State Begins Second Half of Big 12 Play at Missouri
K-State Begins Second Half of Big 12 Play at Missouri
April 19, 2012
Friday, April 20 - Sunday, April 22
Columbia, Mo. /// Taylor Stadium (3,031)
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Fresh off a two-game midweek sweep, Kansas State will look to turn the corner in Big 12 play this weekend with a three-game series at Missouri, Friday through Sunday, at Taylor Stadium in Columbia, Mo. K-State will be in search of its first Big 12 series win of the year and its first series win over the Tigers since 2004. The three-game set gets underway with a 6 p.m., first pitch on Friday, and the final two contests are slated for 1 p.m., on Saturday and Sunday. The Friday and Sunday games will be streamed on K-StateHD.TV, while Saturday’s game will be shown on Fox Sports Kansas City with Brian Smoller and Mike Clark on the call. All three games will be aired in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN with Matt Walters and Ryan Lackey, while free live audio is available online at www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.
K-STATE AT A GLANCE
The Wildcats are coming off a two-game series sweep of Northern Colorado on Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday night saw the Wildcats take a 3-1 lead into the ninth inning until the Bears scored twice in the frame to tie the game at 3-3. In the bottom of the ninth, Tanner Witt got into scoring position on a two-base error with one out. Ross Kivett was next and pulled the first pitch he saw down the left-field line for a walk-off double and a 4-3 Wildcat victory. On Wednesday, K-State scored three times in the first and four more in the fourth en route to a 7-5 win. The Cats were led by Jon Davis’ career-high tying three hits, while Jared King tied his season high with three RBI.
The Kansas State offense, which recorded 19 earned runs last weekend against a Baylor pitching staff that held a 3.22 ERA entering the series, ranks fourth or higher in the conference in nine offensive categories. The Wildcats are led at the plate by King’s .384 average, which is second in the Big 12. Wade Hinkle is second on the club with a .355 average and paces the squad with seven home runs, a mark that is tied for second in the league. Witt has reached base in 33 of his 36 games played this season, including the last four since being put in the leadoff spot. Davis, who hit just .056 in his first 10 games, is hitting .447 over the last 12, which includes 11 starts.
The Wildcats are expected to use their usual weekend rotation of right-hander Matt Applegate on Friday, left-hander Joe Flattery on Saturday, and righty Kayvon Bahramzadeh on Sunday. Applegate is 2-4 this year with a 5.37 ERA in nine starts and will be looking to rebound from a loss last week against No. 5 Baylor when he allowed four runs on 10 hits through 6.1 innings. Flattery, who will be making his 10th start, is 4-2 with a 4.57 ERA after taking a no decision last week against the Bears when he allowed four earned runs on seven hits in five innings. Bahramzadeh is 4-1 this year with a 5.19 ERA and is tied for 10th in the Big 12 with a career-best 48 strikeouts.
DID YOU KNOW
• Head coach Brad Hill will coach his 500th game at Kansas State on Friday at Missouri.
• The Wildcat pitching staff has reached double digits in strikeouts 11 times this year, which is the fifth-most under head coach Brad Hill.
• K-State leads the Big 12 with a .982 fielding percentage and entered the week ranked fourth nationally.
• The Wildcats also ranked in the top 20 of the NCAA in three other categories this week: steals (5th), on-base percentage (18th) and walks (20th).
• K-State has been hit by 23 pitches over the last 12 games and ranks second in the Big 12 with 57 total this season.
• Tanner Witt has reached base safely in 33 of his 36 games played this season.
TAKING ONE FOR THE TEAM
Kansas State, which has shown over the last several years that it will do all it can to get on base, has drastically increased its hit-by-pitch total over the last few weeks. After being hit by 34 pitches in the first 25 games (1.36 per game), K-State has recorded 23 hit batters over the last 12 games (1.92 per game) and has been hit by at least one pitch in each game during the stretch. With the boosted total, the Wildcats now rank ninth in school history with 57 this season and entered the week ranked 32nd nationally.
K-State, which is second in the league in hit batters, is led by Wade Hinkle, Jon Davis, Ross Kivett and Mike Kindel with eight apiece. Kindel and Blair DeBord each have 21 in their careers to tie for 10th in school history.
THROW ‘EM A CHAIR
The K-State pitching staff has had one of its better seasons in terms of strikeouts as the Cats have average 7.5 per nine innings, the highest mark since 7.7 in 1998. The high strikeout total is propelled by 11 games with 10 or more fanned batters, which ranks as the fifth most in head coach Brad Hill’s nine seasons. The Cats also have four 10-plus strikeout games in conference play, which is tied for the fourth most under Hill.
K-State, which has averaged nearly nine strikeouts in its last four Big 12 games, is led by senior starter Kayvon Bahramzadeh with 48 to tie for 10th in the Big 12. Half of the right-hander’s strikeouts have come in the last three games, including 17 in his last two Big 12 starts. Another senior starter, Matt Applegate, sits just outside the top 10 with 45 strikeouts, and he has 168 in his career to rank ninth in school history.
MISSOURI AT A GLANCE
Missouri, a team that is 18-17 overall and 3-9 in Big 12 play, should be well rested after not playing a midweek game. The Tigers are coming off a three-game sweep at the hands of Oklahoma in Norman as OU won a 6-5 contest in 10 innings before victories of 8-4 and 5-4.
The Tigers, who are hitting .277 as a team, are led at the plate by senior catcher Ben Turner, who is hitting .330 with four doubles, one home run and 15 RBI. Right behind Turner at .322 is junior outfielder Dane Opel, who leads the team in doubles (7) and is second in home runs (6), while he is third on the squad in RBI. Junior outfielder Blake Brown paces Missouri with seven home runs and 26 RBI, while Eric Garcia is second in RBI with 23.
Missouri is expected to start a pair of left-handers on Friday and Saturday in Rob Zastryzny and Blake Holovach, respectively. Zastryzny is 2-2 with a 4.56 ERA this season in nine starts. The sophomore has allowed 27 earned runs on 56 hits with 18 walks and 46 strikeouts in 53.1 innings. He took a no decision last week against OU after allowing four runs on seven hits in 5.1 innings.
Holovach, a junior-college transfer, holds a 5-2 record and 3.81 ERA in 11 games, which includes seven starts. The lefty has surrendered just 21 earned runs in 49.2 innings of work, while he has tossed one complete game. He suffered just his second loss of the year last week in Norman when he was touched for seven runs on 11 hits in 5.2 innings.
Missouri has not announced a starter for Sunday’s game, but the Tigers could use one of two right-handers in Jeff Emens or Brett Graves. Emens is 2-1 with a 2.91 ERA in 17 contests, but the senior has started just two games this year. Graves, a freshman, holds a 2-4 record and a 7.18 ERA in 11 games, including six starts. Left-hander Jake Walsh has seen times in 20 games, holding a 2-2 record and 3.98 ERA, while he leads the team with eight saves.
THE MISSOURI SERIES
Missouri leads the all-time series against Kansas State, 165-101-1, including a 77-44-1 mark in Columbia and a 31-17 record in Big 12 play. This weekend’s series marks the final in Big 12 play between the two teams as the Tigers will move to the Southeastern Conference next season. The Wildcats will be looking to end some tough times against MU as the Tigers have won each of the last seven series dating back to 2004, head coach Brad Hill’s first Big 12 series at K-State.
Last season in Manhattan, Missouri won the series opener, 5-4, thanks to a three-run sixth inning to erase a one-run deficit. The Wildcats came back to even the series in the middle game with an 8-5 win. In that game, K-State scored three runs in the third and another three in the sixth, while Kayvon Bahramzadeh came out of the bullpen to pitch 2.1 solid innings. In the rubber match, Kansas State spotted Missouri five runs in the second and could never climb out of the hole as the Tigers won the series with a 12-8 victory.
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, are second in the league with 84, just three back of first-place Texas A&M. Entering the week, the Wildcats ranked fifth nationally in that department and they are now tied for ninth in school history after five swipes against Northern Colorado. K-State has hit the four-steal mark in 12 games this year, going 10-2 in those contests.
Four Wildcats rank in the top 10 of the Big 12 in steals, including sophomore Ross Kivett, who is second with 19. Right behind Kivett with 17 to rank fourth is Tanner Witt, while Jake Brown is tied for eighth with 14 and Jared King is tied for 10th with 13.
After hitting just .056 through the Wildcats’ first 25 games, junior-college transfer Jon Davis has essentially come out of nowhere over the last three weeks as he is now fourth on the team with a .321 batting average. Over the last 12 games, which includes 11 starts, the Palomar College transfer is 17-of-38 (.447) and has reached base at a .532 clip. During that span, Davis leads the team in average, has reached base safely in all 12 games and is second on the team with four multi-hit games. The run by Davis is impressive considering he had just one hit, 11 strikeouts and a .250 on-base percentage in his first 18 at-bats of 2012.
WITT GETS ON BASE
Junior outfielder Tanner Witt saw a career-best reached-base streak of 25 games come to an end last Friday. During the streak, which was the second-longest in the Big 12, Witt hit .402 (35-for-87) with a .505 on-base percentage. Although the streak came to an end, the Hawthorn Woods, Ill., product still reached base safely on both Saturday and Sunday and in both games against Northern Colorado as he has been kept off base just three times this year.
This season, the junior holds a .333 overall batting average to rank 12th in the Big 12, while his .375 average against conference teams is fifth. Witt is in the midst of his best production year as he has worked 25 walks, reached base at a .455 clip and has stolen 17 bases. Witt’s best season in terms of average was .254 in 2010, a year that he reached base at a .376 clip. He has already bettered his career high in stolen bases (14 in 2011), while he needs two more walks to tie his career high (27 in 2011). Witt has also added to his arsenal this season as he has pitched six times, throwing six scoreless innings with four hits, two walks and one strikeout.