K-State Set for Sunflower Showdown
K-State Set for Sunflower Showdown
May 19, 2011
Friday, May 20 - Sunday, May 22
Manhattan, Kan. /// Tointoin Family Stadium (2,331) /// Lawrence, Kan. /// Hoglund Ballpark (2,500)
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Entering the final weekend of the regular season, Kansas State takes on in-state rival Kansas in an important three-game Big 12 series for both clubs as the Dillion's Sunflower Showdown will decide state bragging rights and the opportunity to advance to the 2011 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship next week. The first game of the weekend is scheduled for a 6:30 p.m., first pitch Friday night at Tointon Family Stadium as the Wildcats will honor senior Kent Urban in the home finale. The series then shifts to Lawrence and Hoglund Ballpark for a pair of 6 p.m., contests both Saturday and Sunday.
Friday's series-opener will be televised throughout the state of Kansas on Cox Communication's Kansas 22 and in the Kansas City area on MetroSports with Brian Smoller and former Wildcat head coach Mike Clark on the call. The contest will also be aired on the K-State Sports Network with Wyatt Thompson and Matt Walters calling the action. The final two games of the series can be heard in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN, as well as online at www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.
This year's Sunflower Showdown holds serious postseason implications as the winner of the series will claim one of the final spots in next week's double-elimination conference championship. However, if K-State wins one game, the Cats would qualify for postseason play if Oklahoma State sweeps Texas Tech and Missouri avoids being swept at Nebraska. Seeding for the championship will not be decided until Sunday evening, but the Cats can finish as high as No. 5 in the conference standings.
K-State is coming off a hard-fought loss at Wichita State Tuesday night. The Wildcats trailed 5-1 after five innings, but rallied to score once in the sixth and three in the eighth to tie the game at 5-5. After scoreless ninth and 10th innings, K-State received a sacrifice fly by Ross Kivett in the 11th to go ahead 6-5. But a bases-loaded single in the bottom of the inning gave WSU their first win over K-State since 2008 as the Shockers won, 7-6.
After hitting just .261 through 34 games, the K-State offense has exploded to hit .306 of the last 18 contests as the Wildcats now have six starters hitting .300 or better. Nick Martini leads the charge at .330, while Kivett (.316), Wade Hinkle (.310), Jared King (.3309), Jason King (.304) and Dan Klein (.300) round out the top K-State hitters. The elder King paces the squad in 10 offensive categories, including home runs (9) and RBI (50).
Kansas State will use the same rotation for the fourth-straight week as Kyle Hunter will start Friday night in Manhattan before Matt Applegate and Shane Conlon will earn the nod in Lawrence on Saturday and Sunday. Hunter is 5-4 with a 3.57 ERA this year after the left-hander tossed eight shutout innings last weekend against New Orleans. Applegate holds a 5-3 mark and a 4.23 ERA. He also earned the win last weekend after fanning 12 Privateer batters in seven innings. The right-hander will be looking for a bounce-back performance in conference play after not getting out of the fifth in each of his last two Big 12 starts. Conlon, who is 3-1 with a 3.77 ERA, will be making his fifth start of the year after allowing two runs in five innings with four strikeouts last weekend.
DID YOU KNOW
• 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 .306 (184-of-602) over the last 18 games to raise their average 16 points to .277. 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 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.
• Jason King enters the weekend with a nation-leading 11 sacrifice flies. He now holds the school's career (21) and single- season (11) records.
• 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.
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 19 homers in its last 22 games, including 13 in the last 13 contests. Over the last 13 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 AT A GLANCE
Coming off four day's rest due to finals, Kansas enters the final series of the regular season with a 26-27 record, including a 9-15 mark in the Big 12. The Jayhawks swept a four-game series from Alabama A&M last week, but they will be looking for their first conference victory since April 17 at Missouri as they were swept at Texas Tech and at Oklahoma.
Kansas is hitting .271 this year and is led by senior outfielder Casey Lytle, who is at .307 with 10 doubles and 14 RBI. First baseman Zac Elgie, who is hitting .277, has 19 doubles to lead the team and tie for second in the conference. Senior outfielder Jimmy Waters paces the team in both home runs (7) and RBI (35).
The Jayhawks are one of six Big 12 clubs with a team ERA less than 4.00 as they enter the weekend with a 3.84 ERA. All three starters also hold a sub-4.00 ERA as T.J. Walz gets the start on Friday, while Tanner Poppe and Colton Murray will start on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Walz holds a 6-5 record and a 3.83 ERA in 14 games, including 13 starts. He threw a seven-inning complete game last week against Alabama A&M, allowing four hits. That came on the heels of a loss at Oklahoma when he surrendered nine runs (four earned) on eight hits in five innings.
Poppe is 3-5 this season with a 3.44 ERA. He earned the win in a seven-inning game last week against Alabama A&M after throwing four scoreless innings. He also struggled at OU, allowing five runs on six hits in just two innings. Murray, who is 3-3 with a 2.48 ERA, will be making just his second start this year. The right-hander has seven saves, but started last week against Alabama A&M as he allowed an unearned run on two hits in four innings.
THE KANSAS SERIES
After going 12-3 over the last 15 meetings, Kansas State holds a slim 164-161-1 advantage in the all-time series against Kansas. The Jayhawks had won eight of 10 from 2003 to 2006, but the Wildcats won the final game of the 2006 series to begin a series-long eight game winning streak. KU holds an 83-62 mark all-time in Lawrence, but Kansas State has won three of the last five match-ups at Hoglund Ballpark. Nick Martini leads all K-State players with a .419 (13-for-31) average against the Jayhawks in eight career games.
Last season saw Kansas State hold on for a 5-4 series-opening victory in Lawrence. The Wildcats score four sixth-inning runs to erase a two-run deficit before Thomas Rooke, Evan Marshall and James Allen preserved the lead for the win. The middle game of the series went to KU as it scored six runs over the middle innings to take a 7-3 victory in Manhattan. In Sunday's rubber match, Martini hit a two-run single in the sixth inning to give the Cats their first lead of the game before K-State scored two more in the eighth and held in the ninth for an 8-5 series-clinching win.
A CALL TO THE PEN
The Wildcat bullpen has been extremely effective over Kansas State's last 16 wins. In those victories, the relievers have combined to allow just 10 earned runs on 39 hits in 61.1 innings, good for a 1.47 ERA. Evan Marshall picked up the win in relief against No. 7 Oklahoma when he worked 3.2 scoreless innings, allowing just one hit with three strikeouts. Jared Moore also earned a relief victory over No. 5 Texas A&M when he threw 1.1 scoreless frames.
The main three relievers out of K-State's bullpen - Marshall, James Allen and Kayvon Bahramzadeh - have led the way as they have combined for a 9-6 record and a 2.02 ERA and 16 saves. They have also struck out 98 batters as opposed to 24 walks, while the trio is yielding a .186 batting average. Of the six losses, two came at Baylor with unearned runs being the difference.
Outside of the three top relievers, K-State found success in the back of the bullpen last week against New Orleans as Moore, Gerardo Esquivel, Blake Freeman, Johnny Fasola and Levi Schlick combined to allow just one earned run in seven innings in the three games.
Freshman Ross Kivett has taken a hold of a starting spot in the lineup over the last 21 games. Kivett has played in 24 straight contests since the middle game of the Oklahoma series, and, over that span, the Broadview Heights, Ohio, product has hit .345 (30-for-87) with three doubles, a triple, nine RBI, 21 runs scored, six walks and six stolen bases. Kivett has also served as the leadoff hitter over the last 20 games, holding an on-base percentage of .368 and scoring 19 runs during that stretch.
Kivett recorded a career high four hits and tied his career best with three RBI in a 10-4 win over Missouri State. He came back to tie his career high in hits last Saturday against New Orleans, while he scored a career best with four runs against the Privateers. Kivett has 20 starts as the team's designated hitter this season and one start in left field, but he has earned the nod at second base in the last four contests and has eight starts at second this season.
KING EXCELS ON FIELD AND IN THE CLASSROOM
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 nation with 11 sacrifice flies and tops the team in 10 offensive categories. He also ranks in the top 10 of the Big 12 in seven areas, including top-five marks in home runs, RBI, total bases and slugging percentage. To go along with his success on the field, King has been named to the Capital One Academic AllÂÂ?]District VII first team and the Academic All-Big 12 first team. Both honors were the second of his career. King, who holds a 3.96 cumulative GPA in marketing, will be looking for the first Academic All-America honor of his career when it is released next Tuesday.
King's all-district honor marked the fifth-straight season Kansas State had a first team Academic All-District honoree. Brett Scott earned the nod in 2007 and 2008, while he went on to claim second team Academic All-America honors in 2008. King and Thomas Rooke were honored in 2009 before Carter Jurica was selected in 2010.