Cats Host No. 11 Aggies in Weekend Baseball

Games 49-51

Kansas State (31-17, 9-11)
vs. #11 Texas A&M (38-11, 11-9)

May 11 6:30 p.m.
May 12 6:30 p.m.
May 13 1 p.m.

Tointon Stadium Manhattan

Radio:
Friday’s game will be a K-State Sports Network broadcast with Wyatt Thompson, Brian Smoller and Matt Walters calling the action. The final two games will be broadcast live on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN in Manhattan and online at k-statesports.com. Brian Smoller and Matt Walters will call the action.

Internet:
Live stats of all three games will be available at k-statesports.com.

Series:
Texas A&M leads the all-time series, 27-7-1, while the Cats are 6-23-1 all-time in Big 12 play. K-State is 2-3-1 in the last six meetings, which included a series win in Manhattan back in 2005.

Watch For: The March to OKC
K-State currently sits in sixth place in the league standings heading into the weekend and are only two games out of fourth and 2.5 games out of ninth with six conference games remaining. The top eight teams by winning percentage advance to the Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Kansas State, winners of five in a row, gets back into action this weekend as No. 11 Texas A&M visits Tointon Stadium for a big three-game conference series beginning Friday. The Wildcats enter the contest with a 31-17 overall record and a 9-11 mark in Big 12 play, while the Aggies are 38-11 and 11-9. Kansas State sits all alone in sixth place in the Big 12 standings heading into the weekend and Texas A&M in fourth, but only two games separate the two teams and only four games separate fourth and ninth place in the league with two weekends left in the regular season. Friday and Saturday’s contests will begin at 6:30 p.m., while Sunday’s series finale will begin at 1 p.m. The Wildcats are coming off two conference wins against rival Kansas, one in Manhattan and one in Lawrence, while the Cats did not play during the week due to final exams. K-State’s Sunday matchup with Kansas was cancelled due to rain. Heading down the final stretch of the regular season, Kansas State has seen its pitching staff perform well and the defense has maintained its .974 fielding percentage, which ranks 12th nationally in this week’s NCAA statistics. Those two ingredients have got the Wildcats in a great position to make not only its second trip to the Big 12 Tournament but also the opportunity to advance to the school’s first-ever NCAA regional tournament. K-State enters the weekend at No. 32 in the latest NCAA RPI ratings, while Texas A&M checks in at No. 6. The Cats have already reached the 30-win mark for the third straight season under head coach Brad Hill and it also marked the fastest a K-State team has reached 30 wins since the 1991 season.

Noteworthy
Under Brad Hill, Kansas State is 68-32 when its starting pitcher goes six-plus innings.
The Wildcats also are 89-12 under Hill when out-hitting their opponent.
The Cats are also 78-22-1 under Hill when recording 10 or more hits.
Over the last three-plus seasons, K-State is 97-5 when leading after seven innings and 78-25-2 when scoring first.
K-State currently hitting .285 as a team in Big 12 play, which ranks sixth in the league.
K-State pitchers are 6-2 with a 2.15 ERA in their last eight games.
K-State is 19-4 this season when giving up three or less walks in a game.
K-State relievers are 15-for-16 in save opportunities and have retired 75-of-110 first batters.
K-State has outscored its opponent, 79-26, in the eighth, ninth and extra innings this season.
K-State is 25-4 this season when out-hitting its opponent.
The Cats are 21-0 when leading after six innings, 20-0 when leading after seven and 25-1 after eight.
K-State is 29-13 when scoring three or more runs this season.
Adam Muenster is 19-for-46 (.413) with 11 runs scored in his last 12 games.
Byron Wiley has hit safely in 33 of 45 games played this season and in 17 of his last 23 games.
Wiley is also hitting .370 with a .589 slugging and nine extra-base hits in his last 19 games.
Tyler Link is 4-for-7 in his last three games and has reached base in eight of his last 10 plate appearances.
Closer Daniel Edwards has 14 career saves, which are the second-most in school history.
Edwards has yielded just three runs in his last 32.1 innings of work and has 45 K’s in that span.
Edwards has recorded a win or a save in 15 of his last 19 appearances.
Edwards is ranked seventh nationally and tied for the Big 12 lead this week in saves with 11.
Brad Hutt (8-3) is one win away from tying the single-season record for wins.

Scouting Texas A&M
Texas A&M enters this weekend’s series with a 38-11 overall record, an 11-9 mark in Big 12 play and his ranked sixth in the latest NCAA RPI ratings. The Aggies have shown a steady balance of solid pitching, speed and power this season as Kyle Nicholson enters the weekend as one of the top arms in the league with a 10-1 record and a 1.71 ERA in 20 appearances. Texas A&M has hit 49 homers this season, including 30 in Big 12 play, and have stolen 116 bases. Individually, Blake Stouffer (.417), Luke Anders (.392) and Parker Dalton (.387) have led the offense, while six different players have homered at least five times. On the base paths, five Aggies have double digit marks in steals, led by Ben Feltner’s 27 and Brandon Hicks’ 24 stolen bases.

The Series
Texas A&M leads the all-time series, 27-7-1, while the Cats are 6-23-1 all-time in Big 12 play. K-State is 2-3-1 in the last six meetings, which included a series win in Manhattan back in 2005. Overall, the Cats are 4-8 at home against the Aggies and are 3-5-1 over the last three seasons against the Aggies.

Postseason Watch
Kansas State sits all alone in sixth place in the Big 12 standings heading into the weekend and Texas A&M in fourth, but only two games separate the two teams and only four games separate fourth and ninth place in the league with two weekends left in the regular season. K-State also checked in at No. 32 in the latest NCAA Men’s Baseball RPI ratings (5/8), and have seven games left against the Aggies, who are ranked sixth, Illinois State (131) and Baylor (39).

The 30-Win Club
With its win over Kansas on Friday, K-State hit the 30-win mark for the third straight season and also marked the fastest a Wildcat team has reached 30 wins since the 1991 season. Also, the last time a Wildcat team won 30 games in three straight seasons was back in 1989, 1990 and 1991. The school record for wins in a season is 35, which was set back in the 1976 season.

A Call to the Pen
With seven games left in the 2007 regular season, K-State has seen its pitching staff put up solid numbers, especially the bullpen. K-State’s relievers are 15-4 with a 3.75 ERA in 182.1 innings of work, a number that is slightly skewed after the series at No. 9 Texas and at home against Oklahoma. In those 182.1 innings, pitchers have given up 177 hits and 76 earned runs while striking out 153 batters. Opponents are hitting just .257 against all Wildcat relievers this season. If you take out six games against the Longhorns and Sooners, the Wildcat bullpen is 14-4 with a 2.93 ERA and a .232 opponent batting average in 150.1 innings.

Saving the Day
K-State relievers have picked up 15 saves so far this season out of 31 total wins and are 15-of-16 in those save opportunities. Daniel Edwards, who is a Stopper of the Year and Dick Howser Trophy candidate, leads the team and the Big 12 Conference with 11 total this season. His 14 career saves are also the second-most in school history and he needs four more to move into a tie for first.

Flashing the Leather
Kansas State has set new school records in fielding percentage in each of the last two seasons and this year’s squad is on track to make a run at a third. So far through 48 games, the Wildcats are fielding at a .974 clip, which ranks third in the Big 12 Conference and 12th nationally. In Big 12-only games, Kansas State leads the league with a .979 fielding percentage. The Wildcats are 23-12 this season when committing one or no errors in a game and have committed one or no errors in 29 of their last 37 games.

Edwards Among the Nation’s Top Closers
Junior closer Daniel Edwards has settled in nicely this season as the Wildcats’ new closer and has recently been added to the watch list for the 2007 Stopper of the Year Award and the Dick Howser Trophy. Edwards has been brilliant so far with 11 saves in 12 chances and also has picked up three wins. In 19 appearances this season, Edwards is 3-0 with a 0.92 ERA with 11 saves. The junior has struck out 43 batters in 29.1 innings while opponents are hitting just .127 against him. Dating back to last season, Edwards has recorded a save or a win in 15 of his last 19 appearances and has yielded three runs in his last 32.1 innings.

Daniel Climbing the Save Charts
Daniel Edwards’ 11 saves this season tie the single-season school record and for his career, Edwards now has 14 saves, which are the second-most in school history. He needs four more to tie the school record of 18, set by David Johnson. Edwards also ranks second in school history in career relief appearances with 53.

Trevor Deals
Sophomore Trevor Hurley enters this weekend’s action with a 1-2 overall record with a 3.76 ERA and two saves on the season and has been a steady arm out of the pen and as a starter lately. So far this season, Hurley has recorded multiple strikeouts in 12 of 14 outings, has yielded no runs in seven appearances and earned his first win of the season with 3.2 solid innings of relief against Texas Tech. Hurley also has inherited nine runners with just two of them scoring and has retired 10 of the 11 first-batters he has faced in relief. Hurley earned his first career start against Central Christian and yielded just one hit with three K’s in 2.0 innings, while notching his first career Big 12 start at Nebraska on April 28 when he went 4.2 solid innings.

Friday Night Lights
Junior right-hander Brad Hutt has been solid as the Friday starter for the Wildcats and has proven to be one of the more consistent Friday night guys in the entire Big 12 Conference. Hutt is 8-3 this season, ranks seventh in the league in ERA at 3.01 and has gone six-plus innings in nine of 12 starts. Dating back to last season, Hutt has won 10 of his last 15 starts and has gotten to the sixth inning in all 10 of the  wins.

Hutt is on a Roll
Hutt is 8-3 this season and is nearing the top of the Kansas State record book in single-season and career wins. Heading into the A&M series, Hutt needs just one win to tie the single-season mark of nine and his current career win total of 17 is tied for the third-most in school history.

The Big Bopper
Sophomore outfielder Byron Wiley has provided some power to the middle of the order and has been the most consistent Wildcat at the plate this season. Wiley enters the week among the Big 12’s best in several offensive categories, including on-base percentage (2nd), batting (6th) and walks (3rd). The Tomball, Texas, native leads the Wildcats in 14 different offensive categories and has had multiple hits in 19 games, while recording three or more hits on seven different occasions and reaching base safely in 43 of 47 games played. Wiley also has hit safely in 28 of his last 36 games.

Give Me Vaughn
Sophomore Rob Vaughn has picked up things considerably at the plate, which began with a career day in K-State’s 11-9 win over No. 9 Texas in Austin. The Humble, Texas, native went 4-for-4 with a grand slam and four RBI in Sunday’s game in his hometown state. Over the last 24 games, Vaughn is 28-for-81 (.346) with two homers, seven doubles and 19 RBI and has hit safely in 18 of his last 24 games.

Muenster is on Fire
Redshirt freshman Adam Muenster has caught fire at the plate as of late and has seen his current batting average rise to .286. In his last 12 games, Muenster is hitting .413 (19-for-46) with nine runs scored and five RBI. Muenster has recorded multiple hits in four of his last 11 games, including career-best four-hit games at Oklahoma State on April 15 and against Chicago State on May 2.

Eli’s Coming
Senior Eli Rumler, one of two seniors on this year’s squad, has surpassed the 100 career starts mark this season and has had a great season both offensively and defensively. Currently, Rumler holds the K-State career hit-by-pitches records with 34, and defensively, Rumler ranks sixth in career assists with 400 and needs 11 more to move into fifth. Rumler also has 14 career sacrifice bunts, which ties for fifth in school history. Rumler also has seen his batting average rise 30 points from last season as the senior hit .258 last season and heads into this week’s action with a .289 mark through 48 games.

Nate Has Been Solid of Late
Sophomore Nate Tenbrink has come up with several key two-out hits this season, including a three-run homer in the eighth inning of the Cal-Santa Barbara game. Tenbrink had entered the at-bat in a 1-for-27 drought but came through with a clutch hit to send the game into extra innings. Tenbrink also had a two-out, two-run single in a win over BYU and has since raised his batting average over 180 points to his current .291 mark. Over his last 36 games, Tenbrink leads the team with a .345 batting average, has collected 16 extra-base hits and has driven in 27 runs, 15 of which have come with two outs.

The Missing Link
With several key hitters in the middle of the Wildcat lineup out with injuries, Brad Hill and company needed someone to step up and fill those vacant slots. Tyler Link just might be that guy as the sophomore stepped in for the Kansas series and has gone 4-for-7 in his last three games and has reached base safely in eight of his last 10 plate appearances.

Two-Way Tyler
Freshman Tyler Ruch has made an instant impact for the Wildcats as a true freshman, and not in just one capacity. Ruch has been very effective out of the bullpen as a situational reliever, but also has started games at first base, the outfield and seen several pinch-hit appearances. On the mound, Ruch has compiled a 4.08 ERA in 12 appearances and earned his first win on February 24 against Ohio State after 1.1 solid innings. Ruch has also been effective with first batters as 11 of the 12 first hitters he has faced in relief have been retired. At the plate, Ruch is currently hitting .264 on the season and has hit safely in nine of his last 15 games.

Hill Tops Century Mark
Kansas State head coach Brad Hill picked up his 100th win as head coach of the Wildcat program against North Dakota State on March 10. In three-plus seasons, Hill is 118-92-2 at Kansas State and is 536-183-2 overall as a head coach in 12-plus seasons. Hill needs just 12 more wins to pass Bob Brasher as the fourth-winningest coach in KSU history. In fact, Hill currently needs just 21 more wins to move all the way up to second place on the chart and pass Phil Wilson for second place.

Young Faces, Key Roles
Kansas State, with 24 total underclassmen on its squad this season, has seen many of those newcomers make an immediate impact on the field. Six freshmen position players have seen action so far this season, while four freshmen pitchers have seen time on the mound. At the sophomore level, six position players have played key roles this season while four second-year pitchers have logged innings.

Youth is Served
Kansas State fields one of the youngest teams in the Big 12 Conference this season, and with 34 players on the roster, 24 of those are underclassmen (13 freshmen and 11 sophomores). Nebraska and Baylor are the only two teams in the league that are comparable with 26 and 25, respectively. In terms of experience, the Wildcats boast two seniors, which are the fewest of any Big 12 team, and eight juniors to total 10 upperclassmen, which are the fewest in the Big 12 Conference.

Bulking Up RPI
Kansas State has bulked up its non-conference schedule in 2007 as it prepares for tough three-game stretches in league play down the road. In fact, the Wildcats currently have the 32nd-toughest schedule in the country according to Boyd’s World and head into this weekend’s action with 19 games against teams that are ranked in this week’s Top 25. And, speaking of Boyd’s World, Kansas State checks in at No. 32 this week in the RPI ratings, which is fifth among Big 12 teams behind Texas (3), Texas A&M (8), Missouri (18) and Nebraska (25).