Wildcats Host KU in Key Big 12 Series
Wildcats Host KU in Key Big 12 Series
May 10, 2012
Friday, May 11 - Sunday, May 13
Manhattan, Kan. /// Tointon Family Stadium (2,331)
|2012 PROMOTIONAL SCHEDULE|
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Coming off four days of rest due to finals week, Kansas State hits an important stretch run of the season and closes out its home schedule this weekend as the Wildcats host Kansas in the Dillon's Sunflower Showdown, Friday through Sunday, at Tointon Family Stadium. This weekend marks the first time since 2000 that all three conference games will be played at one venue after the programs split the series each of the last 11 seasons. First pitch for all three contests is slated for 6:30 p.m.
Friday's game can be seen throughout the state on Cox Communications' Kansas 22 and in the Kansas City area on MetroSports with Brian Smoller and Mike Clark on the call. The final two games will be shown world-wide on K-StateHD.TV, while Sunday's series finale will also be shown nationally on Fox College Sports. The five-station K-State Sports Network will carry Friday-night's game with Wyatt Thompson and Matt Walters on the call. The final two games of the series will be aired in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN as well as online at both www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.
In a busy weekend around the K-State Athletics facilities with graduation at Bramlage Coliseum and the 2012 Big 12 Track & Field Championship at the adjacent R.V. Christian Track Complex, plenty of promotions surround the final home series, including a pregame tailgate beginning at 5 p.m., on both Friday and Saturday. Men's basketball coach Bruce Weber will throw out the first pitch on Friday. On Saturday, which serves as Senior Night, fans can present their Big 12 Track & Field Championship ticket to receive a $3 general admission bench ticket, while Saturday is also Valley Center Community Night. On Sunday, moms can purchase a $3 general admission bench ticket with a full-price youth ticket to celebrate Mother's Day. The series finale is also a Family Day as fans can purchase a Wildcat 4-Pack for $30 that includes four general admission bench tickets, four hot dogs, four bags of chips and four drinks. Also, all kids in attendance can run the bases after the game.
Fans can order tickets through the K-State Athletics Ticket office online at www.k-statesports.com/tickets, by phone at 1-800-221-CATS or at the Tointon Family Stadium box office prior to any of the games.
K-STATE AT A GLANCE
K-State enters the series on a high note after a three-game sweep last weekend of Nebraska Omaha. The Wildcats played their best baseball in over a month as they tallied double-digit hits and scored at least nine runs in all three games while recording a team on-base percentage of .500 over the three-game set. On the mound, Kansas State tallied a 3.67 ERA and struck out 17 batters as opposed to just four walks.
The Wildcats, who rank fourth in the Big 12 with a .283 batting average, are led by sophomore Jared King. The outfielder is now hitting .376 to rank second in the Big 12 after a 10-for-16 performance over four games last week, which propelled him to Big 12 Player of the Week honors. Tanner Witt is second on the team and 11th in the league with a .325 average, while he has reached base safely in 44 of the 48 games he has played this season. Wade Hinkle, who is also hitting .325, is tied for second in the conference with nine home runs and leads the Cats with 45 RBI. Jon Davis is fourth on the team at .310, including a .366 mark since becoming an everyday player on March 31.
Kansas State is expected to start right-hander Kayvon Bahramzadeh on Friday and left-hander Joe Flattery on Saturday, while the Wildcats are undecided on a Sunday starter. Bahramzadeh and Flattery carry similar credentials as both are 5-3 on the season, while Flattery holds a 4.80 ERA and Bahramzadeh a 4.99 mark. Both earned the win last week against the Mavericks as Bahramzadeh worked at least six innings for the eighth time this year, allowing two runs on three hits with no walks and four strikeouts. The next day, Flattery lasted a career-long seven innings, surrendering three runs on seven hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
DID YOU KNOW
The Wildcat pitching staff has reached double digits in strikeouts 13 times this year, which is tied for the fourth-most since 2004. Six of those have come against Big 12 teams, the most under head coach Brad Hill.
K-State has turned 50 double plays this season and entered the week ranked 10th nationally in that department.
The Wildcats also ranked in the top 20 of the NCAA in walks (5th), steals (7th) and fielding percentage (19th).
Kansas State has a 1.18 strikeout-to-walk ratio against its offense, the lowest mark since 1996.
The Wildcats struck out 31 batters in the Oklahoma State series, the second-most in a Big 12 series under head coach Brad Hill.
Tanner Witt has reached base safely in 44 of his 48 games played this season. One of the games he did not reach base was April 25 at KU when he came off the bench for one at-bat.
Witt walked 10 times last weekend against Nebraska Omaha, including six on Saturday to tie a Big 12 record. His 10 walks were the most by a Wildcat in a three-game series since at least 2002.
MANAGING WALKS AND STRIKEOUTS
Kansas State has recorded one of its better seasons in terms of walks and strikeouts both at the plate and on the mound. On offense, the Wildcats have worked 241 walks and have struck out just 289 times to hold a 1.18 strikeout-to-walk ratio, the lowest against the Wildcats since 1996. In head coach Brad Hill's eight other years at K-State, the Wildcats' lowest strikeout-to-walk ratio on offense was 1.31 in 2009. Additionally, K-State is approaching the school's tops 10 in walks as it leads the Big 12 by an astonishing 32 and entered the week ranked fifth nationally.
On the flip side, the Wildcat pitching staff holds a 2.08 strikeout-to-walk ratio, continuing a streak of four-straight years prior to 2012 with a ratio higher than 2.0. K-State, which is six strikeouts away from entering the program's top 10, ranks fourth in the Big 12 in strikeouts.
KANSAS AT A GLANCE
Just like K-State, Kansas played a non-conference schedule last weekend as it split two games with Air Force, winning 5-2 on Friday and losing 3-0 on Saturday, before dropping a game on Sunday to Missouri State, 6-3. The Jayhawks' last Big 12 series was two weeks ago as KU lost the first two games of the series to Oklahoma, 4-1 and 8-2, while the series finale was rained out.
Kansas, which is hitting .250 as a team, is led by junior infielder Jordan Dreiling's .310 batting average. Catcher James Stanfield is behind him at .291. Zac Elgie and Connor McKay are tied for the team lead with five home runs apiece, while Elgie is the team leader with 26 RBI. Alex DeLeon, who is hitting .285, has 10 extra-base hits and is second on the squad with 21 RBI.
The Jayhawks are expected to start right-hander Frank Duncan on Friday, left-hander Wes Benjamin on Saturday and righty Thomas Taylor on Sunday. In 15 games this season, which includes 12 starts, Duncan is 5-6 with a 3.14 ERA. He ranks third in the Big 12 in innings pitched at 91.2, while his 85 strikeouts are fifth. Last week against Air Force, Duncan earned the win after allowing just two runs (one earned) on six hits with three walks and nine strikeouts in eight innings. In his last Big 12 start against OU, the sophomore suffered the loss after surrendering four runs on six hits in seven innings.
Benjamin is 2-7 with a 4.27 ERA in the first 12 starts of his career. The left-hander suffered the loss last Saturday against Air Force despite giving up just two runs in 5.2 innings of work. He also took the loss against the Sooners two weeks ago after allowing three runs in five innings. Taylor, a junior with a 4-5 record and a 4.62 ERA, did not factor into the decision against Missouri State as he allowed three runs on seven hits in six innings. He will be making his first Big 12 start since April 22 at Texas when he took the loss after allowing four runs in 4.2 innings.
THE KANSAS SERIES
In the most-played series in K-State baseball history, the Wildcats hold a 167-162-1 advantage over Kansas, including a 96-76-1 mark in Manhattan. K-State has had the upper hand as of late as the Wildcats have won 15 of the last 19 games, including a current five-game winning streak in conference games. KU won an 11-inning non-conference tilt on April 25 in Lawrence, 8-7.
Last season, K-State swept a three-game series from the Jayhawks. On Friday night in Manhattan, Ross Kivett singled on a full-count pitch with two outs in the bottom of the 10th to give K-State an 11-10 walk-off victory. KU held an 8-4 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh, but K-State scored six runs over the final three innings while the Jayhawks added a single run in both the eighth and ninth as the teams were tied at 10 before Kivett's single. The series then shifted to Lawrence as the Wildcats won a 13-9 contest that was split over two days due to weather before a 10-6 win to finish off the sweep.
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 each of the last three seasons, are second in the league with 93. K-State ranks seventh nationally in that department and is ninth in school history. The Wildcats have 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 Ross Kivett, who is second with 22. Right behind Kivett with 20 to rank third is Tanner Witt, while Jake Brown and Jared King are tied for 10th with 14.
FINDING A WAY TO GET ON BASE
K-State has been one of the best teams in the Big 12 in terms of getting on base. The Cats are second in the conference and were 27th nationally in on-base percentage entering the week, thanks to a .500 mark over three games against Nebraska Omaha last weekend. The Cats, who lead the conference and rank fifth nationally in walks, have recorded a team on-base percentage of at least .400 in 24 games this season, going 18-6 in those contests. Also, K-State has recorded five or more walks in 24 games this year and is 4-1 when collecting 10 or more free passes.
K-State has three players in the top 10 of the Big 12 in on-base percentage, led by Wade Hinkle at .476 to rank second, while Tanner Witt is fifth at .464 and Jared King is sixth at .449.
KING'S BIG WEEK
Backed by a 10-for-16 performance in four games last week, outfielder Jared King was named the Big 12 Player of the Week, the second designation by a Wildcat this season (Jake Brown, March 12) and the third in King's career after being named newcomer of the week on two occasions last year. King, who also earned National Player of the Week honors from CollegeBaseballInsider.com, saw half of his hits last week go for extra bases to tally a 1.125 slugging percentage, while he drove in 12 total runs. The sophomore also reached base at a .650 clip, drew three walks and scored seven runs.
Thanks to his performance, King jumped from sixth to second in the Big 12 in batting average (.376), unranked to sixth in slugging percentage (.554), fourth to second in hits (70) and unranked to ninth in RBI (40). He also ranks in the top 10 of the Big 12 in runs scored, home runs, doubles, triples, steals, total bases and on-base percentage.
WALK IT OUT
Junior outfielder Tanner Witt tied a Big 12 record last Saturday against Nebraska Omaha by working six walks, which also set a school record. He eclipsed Adam Muenster (2010 vs. St. Bonaventure) and Adam Green (1996 vs. Creighton), while he was the first Big 12 player to record six walks in a game since 1999. Oklahoma State's Josh Holliday was the last player to registered six free passes as he did so against Oral Roberts. Missouri's Brian Seymour originally set the conference record against Arkansas State in 1997.
This season, K-State has worked 241 walks as a team, which leads the Big 12. The Wildcats entered the week fifth nationally in walks, just three back of fourth-place Eastern Michigan and five behind third-place Texas Southern.
Thanks to his patience at the plate this season, Tanner Witt is in the midst of his best season in Manhattan after switching from shortstop to the outfield prior to the year. Witt, who held a career-best reached-base streak of 25 games earlier this year, has been kept off base just four times this season and just twice over his last 42 games.
This season, Witt is second on the team with a .325 batting average, the best mark of his career. He has also notched a career-best in walks with 38, due in large part to 10 last weekend which was the highest in a three-game series in Brad Hill's tenure at K-State. The Hawthorn Woods, Ill., product also sports a career-best on-base percentage of .464, while he has stolen a career-high 20 bases. In addition, Witt has added to his arsenal this year as he has pitched eight times, throwing nine scoreless innings with five strikeouts.