MANHATTAN, Kan. - Following a 2-1 record last weekend at The Citadel Memorial Challenge in Charleston, S.C., Kansas State returns to The Palmetto State to take on tough competition in the Caravelle Resort Tournament at TicketReturn.com Field in Myrtle Beach, S.C. The Wildcats, who were orignally slated to play three games in three days, had their schedule changed this week due to a strong threat of rain in the Myrtle Beach area. K-State will now play a pair of games Thursday, taking on Coastal Carolina at 12 p.m. (CT), before facing No. 8 Kentucky at 3:30 p.m. (CT). Following an off day on Friday, K-State will play Elon on either Saturday or Sunday at a time to be determined.
All three games will be available online for free at either www.k-statesports.com or www.1350kman.com. Thursday’s game against Coastal Carolina will be exclusively online, while the contest against Kentucky can be heard in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN. KMAN’s coverage of the game against Elon will depend on which day the game is played due to K-State men’s and women’s basketball on Saturday.
Last weekend, Kansas State was forced to come back from early deficits each day and was able to rally for a pair of victories. Friday against High Point, K-State trailed 1-0 through six innings before the bats came alive for two runs in the seventh and three in the ninth for a 5-1 win. The Cats trailed early again on Saturday at The Citadel by spotting the Bulldogs nine runs over the first five innings. K-State’s offense rallied again with three multi-run frames, including the ninth when K-State had the tying run on base, but a strikeout ended the game as the Cats fell, 10-8.
Sunday’s script was much like Saturday as George Mason tallied four runs in the fourth inning to take a 6-3 lead. The big difference was K-State’s bullpen shut down the Patriots the rest of the way as the Wildcats scored a run in the fifth and three in the seventh to earn a 7-6 comeback win to tally a winning weekend.
The Wildcats were led offensively during the opening weekend by junior third baseman RJ Santigate, who went 7-for-12 (.583) with a double and two RBI. Shane Conlon, who was used solely as a pitcher in 2012 before a season-ending injury, is second on the team at .462 (6-for-13) with a double and a triple. Golden Spikes Award candidate and Preseason All-American Jared King tied for team-high honors with four RBI, while senior Jon Davis also drove in four runs, including two on a game-tying home run Sunday.
Kansas State is expected to start sophomore right-hander Nate Williams against Coastal Carolina and senior left-hander Joe Flattery against Kentucky, while the Wildcats will send sophomore righty Matt Wivinis to the mound against Elon. Williams was outstanding in his first career start last Friday as he lasted six innings, allowing a first-inning run and five hits with one walk and six strikeouts. The Valley Center, Kan., product seemed to get stronger as the game went on as he retired the final seven batters he faced, including four via a strikeout.
Both Flattery and Wivinis will look to redeem themselves this week as Flattery lasted just two innings, giving up seven runs to The Citadel, while Wivinis surrendered six runs in over four innings against George Mason.
DID YOU KNOW • The Wildcats’ 13.3 hits-per-game average and .474 slugging percentage over the opening weekend were tops in the Big 12. • K-State’s pitchers averaged a strikeout per inning last weekend, the second-highest average in the Big 12, while the Wildcats’ 2.42 walks-per-nine-innings average was the third-lowest in the conference during the opening weekend of play. • Kansas State’s 40 hits, including RJ Santigate’s seven base hits, were the most in the first three games of a season in four years. • Brad Hill entered the 2013 season seventh in the nation among active coaches with a .692 career winning percentage. • K-State tallied 15 strikeouts against George Mason on Sunday, the most by the Wildcats in nearly two years. • Friday’s quality start by Nate Williams was the first by a Wildcat in their first-career start since Shane Conlon against Texas Tech in 2011. • Jake Matthys was the first K-State freshman pitcher to pick up the win in his first career outing since A.J. Morris in 2007.
BACK TO THE PALMETTO STATE Following a two-day stint back in Manhattan, the Wildcats are returning to South Carolina after playing in The Citadel Memorial Challenge last weekend in Charleston. This weekend’s games in Myrtle Beach marks the fourth trip to The Palmetto State over the last four seasons. The Cats, who went 2-1 last weekend, now hold a 6-4 mark in their recent South Carolina history as they also went 2-1 at The Citadel Memorial Challenge in 2010 and 2-2 at Coastal Carolina’s Baseball at the Beach tournament in 2011. Prior to the Wildcats’ trip to The Citadel in 2010, K-State had played just three games in the state of South Carolina, a three-game sweep at the hands of Clemson in 1999.
YOUNG GUNS With 10 freshmen pitchers on the staff, it is imperative that younger arms must step up for K-State during the 2013 season. If the first weekend of play was any indication, the Wildcats should be well off as right-handers Jake Matthys and Blake McFadden, along with lefties Hayden Nixon and Landon Busch, were outstanding in their collegiate debuts. The quartet of hurlers combined to toss 6.2 scoreless innings with just one walk and seven strikeouts, while opponents hit just .269 off the freshmen.
The work of Nixon and Matthys was a big reason why the Wildcats defeated George Mason on Sunday. With K-State trailing 6-3 through four innings, the duo tossed four shutout innings as the offense rallied for a one-run victory. Matthys was especially impressive as he retired the first six batters he faced and seven of nine overall in a winning effort.
THE HITS KEEP ON COMING Kansas State recorded one of its better offensive weekends to open a season in recent history as the Wildcats went 40-for-116 (.394) at the plate. K-State’s 40 hits and .394 batting average both ranked second in the Big 12 during the opening weekend, while its 13.3 hits per game topped the league. In addition, the Wildcats recorded their second-highest hit output during the first three games of a season in the Brad Hill era. The 2009 squad, which set the school record with 675 hits, had 41 hits during a three-game series at Houston to open the season. K-State’s hit production last weekend was a great sign as the Cats nearly doubled their hit production from last year’s first three games. In a series at CSU Bakersfield to open the 2012 slate, Kansas State could only muster 22 hits.
COASTAL CAROLINA AT A GLANCE Coastal Carolina, which is receiving votes in this week’s NCBWA poll, is 2-1 on the year after winning a pair of one-run games against James Madison by scores of 4-3 and 8-7 in a weather-shortened series. In attempt to make up a cancelled contest against the Dukes, CCU traveled to take on top-ranked North Carolina on Monday, a contest that Coastal lost 7-1.
The Chanticleers, who are hitting .187 as a team, are led offensively by sophomore outfielder Colin Hering, who is 4-for-10. Sophomore catcher Will Remillard leads the squad with five RBI, while Remillard and sophomore shortstop Brian Pruett are the only CCU hitters with extra-base hits as each has doubled during the first three games.
Coastal Carolina is expected to start junior right-hander Tyler Herb against Kansas State on Thursday. The Lykens, Pa., native picked up the win last week against James Madison after surrendering three runs on seven hits and working around three walks with a strikeout in five innings of work. Sophomore left-hander Austin Kerr and freshman right-hander Seth Lamando lead the Chants’ bullpen with two scoreless appearances. Lamando has been directly involved in both of CCU’s victories as he pitched a scoreless ninth in the season opener last Friday against James Madison to earn a save and came back with a win as Coastal Carolina earned a walk-off victory Sunday.
KENTUCKY AT A GLANCE Eighth-ranked Kentucky brings its 3-0 record to Myrtle Beach after wins against UNC Asheville, Niagara and USC Upstate last weekend in Spartanburg, S.C. The Wildcats are hitting .366 (45-for-123) on the young season and are led by junior infielder J.T. Riddle, who has nearly a quarter of the Kentucky hits as he is 11-for-14 (.786) with three doubles, one triple, one home run and a team-best six RBI. Following the first two games of the year, the Frankfort, Ky., native earned SEC Player of the Week honors. Behind Riddle at .385 is preseason All-American Austin Cousino, who homered and had four RBI. Riddle and Cousino are the only two Wildcats to homer.
Kentucky is expected to start sophomore left-hander A.J. Reed against K-State on Thursday. Another preseason All-American, Reed earned the win in Kentucky’s season-opener over UNC Asheville by surrendering two runs on six hits over five innings of work with no walks and four strikeouts. Reed will likely also hit for himself as he went 4-for-5 with a triple and four RBI against UNCA. No Kentucky reliever has been used more than once, but right-handers Chandler Shepherd and Trevor Gott were each used at least two innings.
ELON AT A GLANCE Elon, who plays Wednesday night against North Carolina A&T, went 1-2 last weekend. The Phoenix defeated Marist, 11-3, Friday to open the season but dropped 7-6 and 6-2 decisions to Boston College and VCU, respectively. Through three games, Elon is hitting .307 (31-for-101) and is led by junior infielder Sebastian Gomez at .545 (6-for-11). Senior catcher Alex Swim paced the squad with five RBI last weekend and tallied Elon’s only triple, while juniors Antonio Alvarez and Ryan Kinsella each registered a pair of doubles.
If K-State and Elon are to play on Saturday, the Phoenix will start senior right-hander Kyle Webb. Webb pitched last Saturday’s game against Boston College and was in line for the win after allowing just two runs on six hits with no walks and six strikeouts in six innings. However, the Elon bullpen could not hold a 4-2 lead as BC scored five runs in the eighth for the win. Entering Wednesday’s game against North Carolina A&T, the Phoenix have used junior left-hander Ryan Pennell out of the bullpen twice. Pennell has tossed two scoreless innings, giving up one run and striking out two.
THE COASTAL CAROLINA SERIES Thursday’s game against Coastal Carolina will be the second in the series between the two schools following a 5-4 K-State victory in 2011. In that contest, the Wildcats erased a three-run deficit with a four-run eighth inning to top the 17th-ranked Chanticleers. Kansas State was led offensively in that game by a 2-for-4 effort from Jake Brown, while James Allen earned his third save of the year on his way to a school-record 17 saves that season. Three current Wildcats played two years ago against Coastal Carolina as then-sophomore Tanner Witt went 1-for-4, while Shane Conlon was 0-for-2 and Ross Kivett served as a pinch runner.
THE KENTUCKY SERIES Kansas State and Kentucky will face each other on the diamond for the first time on Thursday. The Wildcats are 145-265-3 all-time against current members of the Southeastern Conference, but are 31-55-2 against the conference without K-State’s Big Eight/12 history against Missouri and Texas A&M. Kansas State’s last meeting against a member of the SEC outside of the Tigers and Aggies was 2004 when the Wildcats registered a 2-1 victory over Alabama in Shreveport, La.
THE ELON SERIES This weekend also marks the first meeting between Kansas State and Elon. The Wildcats are 1-1 all-time against current members of the Southern Conference with both contests coming against The Citadel. K-State defeated the Bulldogs, 2-1, in the 2010 Citadel Memorial Challenge before falling last week, 10-8.
QUICK STARTS With 18 newcomers and 19-straight home games in the month of March, it is important for the Wildcats to get off to a quick start this season as 16 of their final 22 games are on the road. Fortunately for K-State, history will be on its side as the Cats are currently 207-80 (.742) in non-conference games under head coach Brad Hill, including a 98-43 (.695) mark over the past four-plus seasons. In regular season non-conference games, the Cats have been even tougher as they are 196-64 (.754) over the past nine-plus years and 90-31 (.744) from 2009-13.
FOR STARTERS Sophomore pitcher Nate Williams, who tallied a K-State freshman record six saves in 23 outings last year, was outstanding in his first career start last Friday against High Point. The Valley Center, Kan., product tossed six solid innings by allowing just one run on five hits with a walk and a career-best six strikeouts. Williams seemed to get better as the game went along as, after a first-inning run, he forced the Panthers to strand the bases loaded in the second inning and leave two more in the fourth before retiring the final seven batters he faced.
Williams registered the first quality start (six or more innings pitched, three or fewer earned runs allowed) by a Wildcat in their first career start since Shane Conlon against Texas Tech in 2011. In that contest, Conlon dominated the Red Raiders as he tossed 6.2 shutout innings, allowing four hits with five strikeouts.
SANTIGATE’S SIZZLING START A season after collecting just three hits in his first 12 at-bats and hitting .204 overall in 50 games, junior third baseman RJ Santigate began 2013 on fire as he went 7-for-12 with a double and two RBI during the opening weekend. The Las Vegas, Nev., product was tied for second in the Big 12 following the weekend with a .583 average, while his seven hits were tied for first and his team-leading .615 on-base percentage ranked third in the league.
Santigate’s great start offensively coincides with the Wildcats’ first-weekend production. The Wildcats had 40 hits, the most in the first three games since 2009, while Santigate’s seven hits individually were the most in the first three games by a K-State hitter since Justin Bloxom also had seven to open the 2009 campaign.
SOLID DEBUT Freshman right-hander Jake Matthys did not have an opportunity to ease into collegiate baseball as the Spring Lake Park, Minn., product was thrown into the fire last Sunday against George Mason. In his first career outing, Matthys entered the game in the sixth inning with K-State trailing, 6-3, and the Patriots threatening to extend their lead. The right-hander coaxed a ground out to get out of the inning and went on to retire six of the next eight batters, including successfully working out of a first and third situation. K-State rewarded the freshman by scoring three in the seventh to give Matthys the win.
Matthys, who allowed just two hits and struck out three in his 2.1 innings, picked up the first win by a K-State freshman in their debut since A.J. Morris in 2007. Morris tossed three innings of relief against Centenary that season, also giving up two hits with a walk and two strikeouts.
WELCOME BACK Kansas State returned a pair of hitters to the lineup last weekend as Shane Conlon and Mitch Meyer took their first swings in a game since 2011. Last season, Conlon was exclusively a pitcher before an injury cut his season short, while Meyer was sidelined for the entirety of the 2012 campaign due to injury. Last weekend, Conlon and Meyer combined to go 9-for-22 (.409), including Conlon’s 6-for-13 effort. Conlon, who had just nine hits in 31 games as a freshman in 2011, also doubled and tripled last week in The Citadel Memorial Challenge.
KING PULLS IN HONORS A season after leading the Big 12 during the regular season with a .378 batting average, junior Jared King gained national attention entering the 2013 season. The outfielder was named a preseason All-American by both Baseball America and Perfect Game, and the accolade from Baseball America was especially impressive considering the fact that the teams were voted on by Major League Baseball scouting directors. Baseball America also slotted King as the 39th best prospect nationally among juniors.
Other honors for King prior to the 2013 season included being named the Big 12’s best player by College Baseball Today and Perfect Game as well as the conference player of the year, best pure hitter, best athlete and best defensive outfielder by Baseball America. Additionally, Perfect Game lists King as the fifth-best prospect, but tops among position players, in the Big 12 among players eligible for this year’s draft.