Cats Eye Postseason with Trip to Baylor

Games 53-55

Kansas State (33-19, 10-13)
at Baylor (28-24, 9-15)

May 18 6:30 p.m.
May 19 6:30 p.m.
May 20 1 p.m.

Baylor Ballpark Waco, Texas

Radio:
All three games will be broadcast live on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN in Manhattan and online at k-statesports.com. Brian Smoller and Kenny Lannou will call the action.

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

Series:
Baylor leads the series, 24-9, while the Wildcats are 1-16 all-time in Waco. K-State has won three straight in the series after sweeping the Bears last season in Manhattan.

Watch For: 33 Wins and Counting
K-State currently has 33 wins this season, which are the most in Brad Hill’s four seasons as head coach and are the most since the 1988 squad picked up 34 wins. The school record for wins in a season is 35, which was set back in 1976.

Kansas State closes out the regular season this weekend with a trip to Waco, Texas, and Baylor Ballpark for a three-game Big 12 Conference series that will have Big 12 Tournament and NCAA Regional implications. Friday and Saturday’s games will be begin at 6:30 p.m., while Sunday’s finale is set for 1 p.m. All three games will be broadcast live on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN in Manhattan and online at k-statesports.com. Heading down the final stretch of the regular season, Kansas State has seen its pitching staff perform well and the defense has maintained its .973 fielding percentage, which ranks 15th 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 week at No. 28 in the latest NCAA Baseball RPI ratings and is currently sixth in the Big 12 standings at 10-13 heading into this weekend’s regular season finale at Baylor.  The Cats have already reached the 30-win mark for the third straight season under head coach Brad Hill and are just two wins shy of tying the school record for wins in a season at 35. All-Big 12 candidates Daniel Edwards, Byron Wiley and Brad Hutt have paced the Cats as of late as Edwards ranks among the best closers in the nation, Wiley leads the team in 14 offensive categories and Hutt is one win on the mound shy of tying the K-State single-season record of nine.

Noteworthy
Under Brad Hill, Kansas State is 70-33 when its starting pitcher goes six-plus innings.
The Wildcats also are 95-12 under Hill when out-hitting their opponent.
The Cats are also 80-22-1 under Hill when recording 10 or more hits.
Over the last three-plus seasons, K-State is 99-5 when leading after seven innings and 79-26-2 when scoring first.
K-State pitchers are 8-4 with a 2.53 ERA in their last 12 games.
K-State is 19-5 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 80-of-117 first batters.
K-State has outscored its opponent, 83-29, in the eighth, ninth and extra innings this season.
K-State is 27-4 this season when out-hitting its opponent.
The Cats are 23-0 when leading after six innings, 22-0 when leading after seven and 27-1 after eight.
K-State is 31-13 when scoring three or more runs this season.
Adam Muenster is 24-for-60 (.400) with 15 runs scored in his last 16 games.
Byron Wiley has hit safely in 37 of 49 games played this season and in 21 of his last 27 games.
Wiley is also 7-for-17 with nine RBI in his last five games.
Nate Tenbrink is hitting .362 with seven extra-base hits and 12 RBI in his last 17 games.
Closer Daniel Edwards has 14 career saves, which are the second-most in school history
Edwards has yielded just three runs in his last 34.2 innings of work and has 49 K’s in that span.
Edwards has recorded a win or a save in 15 of his last 20 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.
Hutt has thrown two complete games this season and has gone six-plus innings in 10 starts.

Scouting Baylor
Baylor enters this weekend’s series with a 28-24 overall record and a 9-15 mark in Big 12 play. The Bears are hitting .286 as a team heading into the weekend and have been led by freshman Raynor Campbell, who is hitting .342, and sophomore slick-fielding shortstop Beamer Weems, who is hitting .313 with eight homers and 48 RBI. On the mound, Friday night starter Jeff Mandel leads the Bears with six wins and 69 strikeouts in 82.2 innings, while a pair of freshmen in Kendal Volz (5-2, 5.27) and Wade Mackey (3-2, 2.16) will start on Saturday and Sunday. Nick Cassavechia leads the team in saves with eight.

The Series
Baylor leads the series, 24-9, while the Wildcats are 1-16 all-time in Waco. K-State has won three straight in the series after sweeping the Bears last season in Manhattan. K-State is 8-23 against Baylor in Big 12 play, while the Wildcats are 4-3 against the Bears over the last seven meetings.

Postseason Watch
Kansas State sits all alone in sixth place in the Big 12 standings heading into this week’s action. K-State finds itself in sixth place in the Big 12 standings heading into the final series of the regular season. The Wildcats are 10-13 in league play while Baylor and Oklahoma remain tied for seventh at 9-15 each. Kansas is in ninth at 8-15 and Texas Tech is in 10th place at 7-16. Nebraska is currently ahead of the Wildcats in fifth at 12-12. With three games remaining, Kansas State needs just one more conference victory or a Kansas loss to secure a spot in its second-ever Big 12 Conference tournament. K-State also checked in at No. 28 in the latest official NCAA Baseball RPI ratings at ncaasports.com.

The 30-Win Club
The Cats’ 33 wins so far this season are the most under fourth-year head coach Brad Hill and are the most since the 1988 squad won 34 total games. Also, K-State’s 10 conference wins are the most under Hill and the second-most Big 12 wins in school history, behind only the 2002 squad that went 13-13. The school record for wins in a season is 35, which was set back in the 1976 season.

A Call to the Pen
With three 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 3.66 ERA in 191.2 innings of work, a number that is slightly skewed after the series at No. 9 Texas and at home against Oklahoma. In those 191.2 innings, pitchers have given up 184 hits and 78 earned runs while striking out 167 batters. Opponents are hitting just .254 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 2.87 ERA and a .231 opponent batting average in 159.2 innings.

Saving the Day
K-State relievers have picked up 15 saves so far this season out of 33 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 52 games, the Wildcats are fielding at a .973 clip, which ranks third in the Big 12 Conference and 15th nationally. In Big 12-only games, Kansas State leads the league with a .977 fielding percentage. The Wildcats are 24-13 this season when committing one or no errors in a game and have committed one or no errors in 31 of their last 40 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 20 appearances this season, Edwards is 3-0 with a 0.84 ERA with 11 saves. The junior has struck out 47 batters in 32.0 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 20 appearances and has yielded three runs in his last 34.2 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 week’s action with a 1-3 overall record with a 3.65 ERA and two saves on the season and has been a steady arm as a starter lately. So far this season, Hurley has recorded multiple strikeouts in 13 of 15 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 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. Last week against No. 11 Texas A&M, Hurley struck out a career-high seven batters in 6.0 innings in a tough 2-1 loss to the Aggies.

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 8-4 this season, ranks seventh in the league in ERA at 3.01 and has gone six-plus innings in 10 of 13 starts. Dating back to last season, Hutt has won 10 of his last 16 starts and has gotten to the sixth inning in 11 of those starts.

Hutt is on a Roll
Hutt is 8-4 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, the All-Big 12 candidate 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 20 games, while recording three or more hits on seven different occasions and reaching base safely in 45 of 49 games played. Wiley also has hit safely in 29 of his last 37 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 .293. In his last 16 games, Muenster is 24-for-60 (.400) with 15 runs scored and eight RBI. Muenster has recorded multiple hits in five of his last 14 games, including career-best four-hit games at Oklahoma State on April 15 and against Chicago State on May 2, and is currently riding a team-best six-game hitting streak.

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 28 games, Vaughn is 30-for-96 (.313) with two homers, seven doubles and 20 RBI and has hit safely in 20 of his last 28 games.

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 36, and defensively, Rumler ranks sixth in career assists with 410 and needs one 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 .284 mark through 52 games.

Nate Has Been Solid of Late
Sophomore Nate Tenbrink has really come on strong after a slow start to the season at the plate. Tenbrink started the season in a 1-for-27 drought but came through with a clutch home run against UCSB that got things going. Tenbrink has seen his batting average rise over 180 points to his current .297 mark. Over his last 40 games, Tenbrink leads the team with a .348 batting average, has collected 17 extra-base hits and has driven in 30 runs, 17 of which have come with two outs. Tenbrink is also hitting .362 with seven extra-base hits and 12 RBI in his last 17 games

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 .282 on the season and has hit safely in 12 of his last 18 games, including going 5-for-9 in his last three games with two multi-hit 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 120-94-2 at Kansas State and is 538-185-2 overall as a head coach in 12-plus seasons. Hill needs just 10 more wins to pass Bob Brasher as the fourth-winningest coach in KSU history. In fact, Hill currently needs just 19 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 33rd-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 ratings, Kansas State checks in at No. 28 this week in the official NCAA Baseball RPI ratings, which is fifth among Big 12 teams behind Texas (4), Texas A&M (5), Missouri (18) and Nebraska (23).