K-State Holds Rematch Against Texas A&M Saturday
K-State Holds Rematch Against Texas A&M Saturday
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Oklahoma City, Okla. /// RedHawks Field at Bricktown (13,066)
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Fresh off a series sweep that punched its ticket into the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, Kansas State will take part in the double-elimination championship, held Wednesday-Sunday, May 25-29, at RedHawks Field at Bricktown in Oklahoma City, Okla. This season marks the fifth-straight year the Wildcats have qualified for the conference championship. K-State will take on No. 3 seed Oklahoma at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday evening in Division Two play. Joining the Wildcats and Sooners in Division Two is second-seeded Texas A&M and No. 7 seed Texas Tech. A double-elimination format will determine the two division winners, which will square off in a one-game championship on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Every K-State game in the 2011 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship can be heard across the K-State Sports Network with Wyatt Thompson, Brian Smoller and Matt Walters on the call. Additionally, the entire championship can be heard on XM/Sirius (XM 202, Sirius 214), while live action will be video streamed free on the Big 12 Conference's official website, www.Big12Sports.com, for the fifth year in a row.
The Wildcats are coming off their third series sweep of Kansas in the last five years and have now won 15 of the last 18 meetings against the Jayhawks. Friday night's game in Manhattan was full of dramatics as the Wildcats won an 11-10 thriller in 10 innings on Ross Kivett's walk-off single. The series shifted to Lawrence on Saturday only to see the game get suspended until Sunday in the seventh inning with K-State leading 5-3. Both teams went on a scoring spree as 10 total runs came across in the eighth, but the Wildcats held on for a 13-9 win to clinch the final spot in the championship. Playing for seeding in the series finale, the Cats trailed 2-0 early but scored multiple runs in four different innings to win, 10-6.
Kansas State's offense exploded against the Jayhawk pitching staff as the Wildcats hit .368 (43-for-117) with 13 doubles, a triple, three homers and 34 RBI in the series. The Wildcats combined for 15 multi-hit games, 10 multi-RBI games and 13 two-out RBI in the series, while they scored 34 runs over the three games, the most since putting up 43 in 1997.
The Wildcats, who are fourth in the Big 12 with a .283 team average, have six starters hitting .300 or better. Nick Martini leads the charge at .343, while Wade Hinkle (.331), Kivett (.321), Jared King (.314), Jason King (.311) and Dan Klein (.303) round out the top K-State hitters. The elder King paces the squad in 10 offensive categories, including home runs (10) and RBI (56).
Kansas State will use its top two starting pitchers in the first two games of the championship as Kyle Hunter earns the nod against Oklahoma on Wednesday, while Matt Applegate will start on Thursday. Hunter is 5-4 with a 4.18 ERA and tossed 7.2 scoreless innings to earn the win the last time K-State and OU met. However, the left-hander has struggled lately as he has not made it out of the sixth inning in his five Big 12 games since that start. Applegate holds a 5-3 mark and a 4.10 ERA after allowing one earned run on four hits in 4.2 innings last weekend at Kansas.
DID YOU KNOW
• 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 117 and is two away from tying for third.
• The Wildcats have hit .316 (227-of-719) over the last 21 games to raise their average 21 points to .283. Kansas State ranked seventh in the conference before the stretch, but is now fourth in the league in hitting.
• Kansas State currently has four 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 four 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 entered last weekend with the national lead in sacrifice flies. He now holds the school's career (22) and single-season (12) records.
• Nick Martini has seven steals in the last seven games to improve his career total to 61, which is tied for second in school history.
• 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 22 homers in its last 25 games, including 16 in the last 16 contests. Over the last 16 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 18 of the Wildcats' 33 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.
OKLAHOMA AT A GLANCE
The No. 3 seed for this week's championship after finishing with a conference record of 14-11, Oklahoma enters the week with a 40-15 overall mark despite going 1-2 at Baylor last weekend. The Sooners, who are hitting a league-leading .316 as a team, are led by Ricky Eisenberg, who is at .366. Garrett Buechele has a team-high 61 RBI, while Tyler Ogle paces the squad with nine homers.
Oklahoma will start right-hander Michael Rocha against Kansas State. The senior is 10-3 with a 1.82 ERA in 14 starts, including five complete games. Last weekend at Baylor, Rocha suffered the loss, allowing four runs on eight hits in 4.2 innings.
THE OKLAHOMA SERIES
Oklahoma leads Kansas State, 182-69-1, in the all-time series after the Wildcats won the regular-season series in Manhattan. The Cats won on Friday, 2-0, before dropping a 14-3 decision on Saturday. The rubber match went the way of K-State as it won 6-2 en route to its first series win over Oklahoma since 2001. The Friday-night shutout was the first by K-State against OU since 1990. Wednesday will mark just the third meeting between the two schools in a conference championship, but the second in the past two years.
Kansas State has been involved in many close games this season as 25 of its 55 games have been decided by one or two runs, including 20 one-run contests in which the Wildcats are 9-11. K-State had been on the losing end of many one-run games earlier in the season, dropping nine of its first 14, before winning three in a row. Last week, K-State was 1-1 in one-run games, losing 7-6 at Wichita State in 11 innings on Tuesday before picking up an 11-10 victory in 10 innings over KU on Friday. The amount of one-run games this year is remarkable considering the Wildcats were only involved in 11 one-run games all of last year, going 8-3. Kansas State was involved in 22 one-run games in 2008 and 18 in 2009, going 12-10 and 12-6, respectively.