Wildcats Take on Tigers in Important Three-Game Series
Wildcats Take on Tigers in Important Three-Game Series
May 5, 2011
Friday, May 6 - Sunday, May 8
Manhattan, Kan. /// Tointoin Family Stadium (2,331)
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Coming off a two-game midweek split against Cal State Bakersfield, Kansas State will look to make a move in the Big 12 standings as the Wildcats host Missouri, Friday through Sunday, May 6-8, at Tointon Family Stadium. K-State will be in search of its first series win over the Tigers since 2004 and the first at home since 2001. The series gets underway with a 6:30 p.m., tilt on Friday in a game that will be broadcast throughout the state of Kansas and in the Kansas City area on Cox’s Kansas 22 and MetroSports. Following a 2 p.m., contest on Saturday, Sunday’s series finale at 1 p.m., will be televised regionally on Fox Sports Kansas City and nationally on Fox College Sports. Brian Smoller and Mike Clark will call the action for both TV games.
Friday’s contest can be heard across the K-State Sports Network with Wyatt Thompson and Matt Walters on the call. The final two games of the three-game set can be heard in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN as well as online at www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.
Looking to bounce back from a pair of losses last week at No. 19 Oklahoma State, Kansas State hosted CSUB for the third and fourth games of the season series after the Wildcats traveled to Bakersfield, Calif., the previous week. Tuesday’s game saw K-State lead 5-1 after two innings before the Roadrunners came back to tie the game at five. Jason King hit a go-ahead RBI triple, while Evan Marshall and James Allen combined to allow just one CSUB run over the final 3.1 innings to send the Cats to an 8-6 win.
The two teams played a wild game on Wednesday as they combined to score 23 runs, 19 of which were scored in the first three-and-a-half innings. After holding a five-run lead, Kansas State was outscored by Cal State Bakersfield 10-2 the rest of the way as the Roadrunners salvaged the final game of the season series with a 13-10 win.
Junior outfielder Nick Martini, who is hitting .455 over the last six games, leads the team with a .331 batting average and 15 stolen bases. King has a team-high eight home runs this season, leading a team that has produced 15 homers in the last 15 games. he also paces the squad in RBI with 40.
The Wildcats are scheduled to start their usual rotation of left-hander Kyle Hunter on Friday, right-hander Matt Applegate on Saturday and lefty Shane Conlon on Sunday. Hunter, who is 4-4 with a 3.90 ERA this season, will be looking to rebound from a disappointing performance last weekend against the Cowboys in which he allowed eight runs on 11 hits in just 4.0 innings. Applegate will also look for the bounce-back outing as he too was touched for multiple runs early in the game last week. The junior gave up five through the first three innings and did not record an out in the fourth before being lifted. Conlon was solid in a start two weeks ago against Texas Tech. He allowed two runs on six hits in a predetermined pitch-count start Tuesday against Cal State Bakersfield as his scheduled start last Sunday at OSU was rained out.
DID YOU KNOW
• The Wildcats have 330 strikeouts this year and are on pace for 403, which would tie for fourth in school history.
• Kansas State currently has six pitchers that have pitched 15.0 innings or more with an ERA less than 4.00. The last time the Cats finished the season with more than six pitchers holding an ERA less than 4.00 was 1974 (8).
• James Allen has set new Kansas State records for single-season saves (15) and career saves (29). He broke the records of Daniel Edwards, who had 12 in 2008 and 26 in his career. Allen is tied for first in the Big 12 in saves this season.
• With three saves against Texas Tech, James Allen became the first Kansas State pitcher with three saves in a conference series in the Big 12 era (1997), while he was the first in the conference since Kansas’ Paul Smyth in 2009 against Texas.
• Jason King’s seven RBI against Northern Colorado are the most in a single game in the Big 12 this season.
• 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 on April 3. They are also the only set with multi-homer games this year as Jason hit two against Northern Colorado on March 30 before two solo shots by Jared on April 26 at CSUB.
• Nick Martini’s streak of consecutive games reaching base came to an end at 93. He recorded a hit in 76 of the games during the streak, while the junior held a .493 on-base percentage and a .387 batting average during that span.
THE SUDDEN APPEARANCE OF THE LONG BALL
After hitting just 11 home runs in its first 30 games, Kansas State has seen its home-run total jump over the past month. The Wildcats have tallied 15 homers in its last 15 games, including nine in the last six contests. Over the last six games, freshman Jared King has led the way with four of his season’s six home runs.
The Wildcat home run total was given a boost on Wednesday night as they tallied a season-high four round-trippers against Cal State Bakersfield. It was the ninth four-home run game for Kansas State under head coach Brad Hill and the first since hitting four against Chicago State on April 28, 2010. All four home runs against the Roadrunners came in the first three innings, the most in the first three innings of a game since also hitting four against Western Illinois on February 22, 2004.
MISSOURI AT A GLANCE
Missouri enters play this weekend as one of the hottest teams in the Big 12 after winning consecutive conference series at Baylor and at home against No. 6 Texas A&M. The Tigers, along with No. 5 Texas, are the only two teams in the conference to enter the weekend with two-straight Big 12 series wins. The Tigers are 6-11 in Big 12 play and 19-26 overall after dropping a midweek game at Missouri State, 5-0, on Tuesday.
The Tigers are hitting .260 as a team, which is last in the Big 12, but have seen their team average jump 11 points over the past two weeks. The Mizzou offense is led by senior outfielder Jonah Schmidt, who is hitting .313 with a team-high 11 doubles, four home runs and 24 RBI. Behind Schmidt is Blake Brown, who holds a .286 average. The sophomore outfielder is the team leader in home runs (5), RBI (27) and stolen bases (17). Junior infielder Conner Mach is second on the team in doubles with nine, while he has driven in 23 runs.
Missouri is expected to start a pair of right-handers on Friday and Saturday in Eric Anderson and Matt Stites, while left-hander Rob Zastryzny earns the nod on Sunday. Anderson has not factored into a decision this season in six appearances, including four starts, while he holds an ERA of 7.13. The sophomore has started each of the last two conference series, including last week against Texas A&M when he allowed five runs on six hits with a walk and five strikeouts in six innings.
Stites has started every weekend for the Tigers as he holds a 3-3 record and a 3.36 ERA with one complete game. The junior is coming off an impressive performance last weekend against the Aggies when he surrendered just one run on six hits in eight innings with eight strikeouts. Zastryzny, who is 2-4 with a 3.90 ERA, has also started every weekend, but the freshman will be looking for his first win since March 18 as he is 0-3 with three no decisions during conference action.
THE MISSOURI SERIES
Missouri leads the all-time series against Kansas State, 163-100-1, including a 13-4 mark since the start of the 2005 season. The Wildcats will be in search of their first series win over the Tigers since 2004 and the first in Manhattan since their last three-game series sweep in the series in 2001. MU has taken the last six series, including sweeps in 2005 and 2010, while the Tigers hold an 83-53 mark in Manhattan.
Last season saw rain wash away play on both Friday and Saturday and turn the series into a one-day doubleheader on Sunday. Tiger starter Nick Tepesch tossed 7.2 innings in the first game, allowing just one run as he worked around seven hits and six walks and forced the Wildcats to strand 13 runners on base. In the meantime, MU got a pair of runs in the first and fourth, including two RBI from Andreas Plackis en route to a 4-2 win. Game two saw K-State hold a 7-6 lead until the Tigers tied the game in the bottom of the ninth. Nick Martini doubled home a run in the top of the 10th, but Dane Opel recorded a two-RBI single in the bottom half to sweep the doubleheader with a 9-8 victory.
SOLID PITCHING WITHIN THE CONFERENCE
Kansas State’s overall ERA of 3.91 currently ranks as the lowest in school history since the introduction of the aluminum bat in 1977. However, the Wildcat pitching staff has been ever tougher on Big 12 opponents this season as they rank fourth in the league with a 3.86 ERA in conference games. If the season ended today, the mark would be Kansas State’s lowest in conference play since at least 1978 (K-State’s listed conference statistics begin in 1979), while it would be the second time since the inception of the Big 12 K-State’s conference ERA is less than 5.00 (4.92 in 2006).
The relievers have led the way for K-State in conference play as they have combined for a 2.23 ERA, allowing 19 earned runs in 76.2 innings of work. Evan Marshall, K-State’s setup man, is second in the Big 12 with a 1.19 ERA within the conference, and he has limited opponents to a .176 batting average to rank third. Closer James Allen has tallied six of his school-record 15 saves against Big 12 teams to lead the league.
SOLID PLAY ON ITS HOME TURF
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 62-19 (.765) 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 22-14, including a 10-4 mark in 2010 and a 3-3 record against two ranked teams to begin the 2011 Big 12 schedule. Kansas State’s last home series was a three-game sweep over Texas Tech, April 21-23.
Kansas State has been involved in many close games this season as 22 of its 45 games have been decided by one or two runs, including 17 one-run contests in which the Wildcats are 8-9. K-State had been on the losing end of many one-run games earlier in the season, dropping nine of its first 14. Since that point, the Cats have won three-straight one-run games, including a pair against Texas Tech and one at Cal State Bakersfield. The amount of one-run games this year is remarkable considering the Wildcats were only involved in 11 one-run games all of last year, going 8-3. Kansas State was involved in 22 one-run games in 2008 and 18 in 2009, going 12-10 and 12-6, respectively.