Wildcats Travel to Wichita for Final Non-Con Game

May 16, 2011

Tuesday, May 17

Wichita, Kan.  ///  Eck Stadium (7,851)

Team Logo
Kansas State

31-20 (9-14 Big 12)

atTeam Logo
Wichita State

32-24 (11-7 Big 12)

MAY 17 /// 6:30PM

 Live Audio
Gametracker Live Stats
TV: None
K-State - LHP Blake Freeman
3-2, 4.74 ERA, 24.2 IP, 9 BB, 19 K
WSU - RHP Zach Beringer
2-3, 5.12 ERA, 31.2 IP, 18 BB, 28 K

Wichita State leads, 47-30
In Wichita:  Wichita State leads, 29-12
Last Meeting:  Kansas State won, 5-2, on April 13, in Manhattan, Kan.

K-STATE:  Brad Hill
Alma Mater: Emporia State, 1984
  Career Record: 679-279-3 (17th season)
  Record at K-State: 261-188-3 (8th season)

WICHITA STATE: Gene Stephenson
   Alma Mater: Missouri, 1968
   Career Record: 1,756-620-3 (34th season)
   Record at Wichita State: Same

Matt Walters and Brian Smoller

www.k-statesports.com, www.1350kman.com and SportsRadio 1350 KMAN

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MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State will play its final non-conference game of the regular season on Tuesday as the Wildcats travel to Wichita, Kan., to take on Wichita State in a 6:30 p.m., contest at Eck Stadium. It is the first of four-straight games against teams from The Sunflower State as the Wildcats finish up the regular season with a three-game series against Kansas this weekend. The game against the Shockers can be heard in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN as well as online at both www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.

K-State is coming off a three-game sweep over New Orleans, defeating the Privateers by at least eight runs in each game after a 9-1 victory on Friday, a 12-2 triumph on Saturday and a 13-2 win Sunday afternoon. The Wildcat offense exploded in the series, hitting .385 (40-for-104) with 13 extra-base hits, a .596 slugging percentage and 17 steals. Junior third baseman Jason King led the way with six hits - three of which went for extra bases - while he also had five RBI. Wade Hinkle and Nick Martini added five hits apiece with five RBI, while Martini was a perfect 5-for-5 on the base paths. Freshman outfielder Jared King hit his eighth home run of the season on Sunday, a mark that leads all Big 12 freshmen.

On the other side, the K-State pitching staff was also dominant behind its starters Kyle Hunter, Matt Applegate and Shane Conlon. Hunter worked eight scoreless innings on Friday, spraying three hits with no walks and five strikeouts. Applegate fanned 12 batters on Saturday, just one shy of his career high of 13 against Texas Tech, while Conlon earned Sunday's win after throwing five solid innings. Kansas State's bullpen was also effective as it combined to allow just one earned run on six hits in seven innings of work.

Offensively, K-State is led by five players that are hitting .300 or better this year in Nick Martini (.337), Ross Kivett (.319), Jared King (.311), Wade Hinkle (.307) and Jason King (.300). The elder King paces the squad in eight offensive categories, including home runs (9) and RBI (50), while he is tied for second and fourth, respectively, in the Big 12 in those areas. Martini is in the top 10 of the Big 12 in seven categories and Jared King is tied for fourth in the Big 12 in home runs.

Kansas State will start freshman left-hander Blake Freeman Tuesday night against Wichita State. Freeman is 3-2 with a 4.74 ERA in 12 appearances this year, including four starts. One of his starts came against Wichita State on April 13 as he took the win in a predetermined pitch-count start, allowing two runs on four hits in 3.2 innings of work. His last start was at Cal State Bakersfield on April 26 when he threw five scoreless innings with four strikeouts. 

• With 17 steals against New Orleans last weekend, the 2011 Wildcats became the seventh team in school history with 100 steals in a season. The 2011 squad is currently fourth in school history with 111 and is nine away from tying for third.
• The Wildcats have hit .312 (176-of-565) over the last 17 games to raise their average 17 points to .278. Kansas State ranked seventh in the conference before the stretch, but is now fourth in the league in hitting.
• Kansas State currently has six pitchers that have thrown 15.0 innings or more with an ERA less than 4.00. The last time the Cats finished the season with more than five pitchers holding an ERA less than 4.00 was 1974 (8).
• Freshman outfielder Jared King is tied for second in K-State history in home runs by a freshman. He is two shy of Brett Reid's record of 10 in 1999.
• Jason King's seven RBI against Northern Colorado are the most in a single game in the Big 12 this season.
• Nick Martini had five steals last weekend against New Orleans to improve his career total to 59, which is third in school history. He is now two steals away from tying for second.
• 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.
• 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.

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 19 homers in its last 21 games, including 13 in the last 12 contests. Over the last 12 games, freshman Jared King has led the way with six of his season's eight home runs. Jared has teamed with older brother Jason King to collect 17 of the Wildcats' 30 round-trippers this year. Jared leads all Big 12 freshmen with his eight homers, five more than Texas' Erich Weiss. He is also two away from tying the Kansas State freshman record of 10 by Brett Reid in 1999.

The Wildcat home-run total was given a boost when they tallied a season-high four round-trippers against Cal State Bakersfield on May 4. 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. 

Kansas State has excelled against non-conference opponents over the past two-plus seasons. After going 22-6 in the first 27 non-con games of 2011, Kansas State is 182-60 (.752) in non-conference games under head coach Brad Hill, including a 74-23 (.763) mark since 2009.

In regular season non-conference games, the Cats have been even tougher as they are 174-49 (.780) over the past seven-plus years and a combined 68-16 (.810) over the past two-plus seasons.

Coming off a series victory at home over Indiana State, Wichita State enters its final non-conference game of the season with a 32-24 overall record and an 11-7 mark in Missouri Valley Conference play. Tuesday's game serves as the final Shocker home game of the season and the end of a nine-game homestand.

WSU holds a 21-17 mark in non-conference games this season, including a 14-5 record at home. The Shockers will be playing their seventh game against a Big 12 team, going 1-5 in their first six contests. WSU split two games against Oklahoma State, was swept in two games by Kansas and has lost a game apiece to Kansas State and Nebraska.

The Shockers enter the game hitting .288 as a team, led by junior catcher/third baseman Chris O'Brien at .411. O'Brien also paces the team with 23 doubles and 59 RBI. Junior infielder Tyler Grimes, who is second at .310, has 25 of WSU's 94 stolen bases this season. Preston Springer, a senior first baseman, is third in average at .309 and first in home runs with eight.

Wichita State is scheduled to start freshman right-hander Zach Beringer on Tuesday night. Beringer holds a 2-3 record and a 5.12 ERA, allowing 18 earned runs on 37 hits with 18 walks and 28 strikeouts in 31.2 innings of work. The freshman's last start came last Tuesday against Oral Roberts when he allowed four runs on seven hits with two walks and no strikeouts in 2.2 innings. Beringer took a no decision in the contest as he left with WSU ahead, but the Shockers allowed four ninth-inning runs to drop an 8-7 decision.

Wichita State holds a 47-30 edge over Kansas State in the all-time series, but the Wildcats have held their own recently as they have won 10 of the last 13 contests against the Shockers, including six-straight wins. K-State dropped the first game of the 2008 series, 4-3, at home before winning a 3-2 contest in Wichita later that year. The Cats then swept the 2009 series by scores of 13-5 and 4-3, before taking both games in 2010 by counts of 8-3 and 7-4. The back-to-back season sweeps over WSU was the first since the 1952 and 1953 seasons. If Kansas State were to win on Tuesday, it would mark the first time in series history the Wildcats have swept three-straight two-game season series against Wichita State. WSU holds a 29-12 mark against the Cats in Wichita, but the Cats have taken the last four at Eck Stadium.

The Wildcats won the first game of the 2011 season on April 13. WSU took a 2-0 lead after one inning before the Cats scored four times in the third, capped by a Mike Kindel two-run homer. The Cats also received solid relief pitching from Kayvon Bahramzadeh, Evan Marshall and James Allen as the trio combined to toss 5.1 one-hit innings with a walk and eight strikeouts as the Cats went on to win, 5-2.

A staple of the K-State offense over the past two seasons, the Wildcats lead the Big 12 with 111 steals and were 11th nationally entering play last week. The Cats are also using their legs to get on base with 68 infield singles on the season, including a team-leading 15 by Jake Brown.

Of the Wildcats' 111 swipes, 78 have come in their 28 non-conference games (2.8 per game), including a school-record 12 in one game against Long Island. K-State's performance against the Blackbirds bettered their 10-steal outings against Creighton in 1979 and Chicago State last year, while they are the most in a single game in the Big 12 this season. Brown led the charge against LIU with four, tying the school record held by eight players. Kansas State also bolstered its total last weekend against New Orleans with 17 in the series.

Nick Martini leads the team and is fourth in the Big 12 with 21 steals on the year. Brown has 16 to tie for ninth in the conference, while Tanner Witt, Jason King and Mike Kindel each have 14.

Not only does junior third baseman Jason King find success on the field, but the Dublin, Ohio, product is also stellar in the classroom. King leads the team in eight offensive categories, while he ranks in the top 10 of the Big 12 in six areas, including top-five marks in home runs, RBI and total bases. To go along with his success on the field, King was named to the Capital One Academic AllÂÂÂ?]District VII first team, the second academic all-district honor of his career. He holds a 3.96 cumulative GPA in marketing, while he has also earned First Team Academic All-Big 12 accolades in 2009 and three Big 12 Commissioner's Spring Honor Roll designations.

King's honor marks the fifth-straight season Kansas State has had a first team Academic All-District honoree. Brett Scott earned the nod in 2007 and 2008, while he went on to claim Academic All-America honors in 2008. King and Thomas Rooke were honored in 2009 before Carter Jurica was selected in 2010. King is now a candidate for the Academic All-America team.