SERIES PROMOTION Tuesday: $3 GA bench ticket when showing men’s basketball ticket vs. TCU
SERIES INFORMATION NIAGARA at K-STATE Overall: K-State leads, 6-0 In Manhattan: K-State leads, 6-0 Last Meeting: K-State swept a four-game series, 12-1, 9-8, 12-2 and 15-1, March 6-8, 2009, in Manhattan, Kan.
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Fresh off a three-game sweep of Oakland, Kansas State continues its stretch of 18 games over a 23-day period with a two-game set against Niagara, Tuesday and Wednesday, at Tointon Family Stadium. The Wildcats are looking to give head coach Brad Hill his 300th victory at Kansas State and keep an unblemished 6-0 record all-time against the Purple Eagles. Both games begin at 3 p.m., and can be seen world-wide on K-StateHD.TV, K-State’s exclusive online digital network. The contests can also be heard in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN with Brian Smoller and Matt Walters on the call, while live audio is available for free online at both www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.
Fans can purchase a $3 general admission bench ticket to Tuesday’s contest when showing their men’s basketball ticket for the TCU game later that evening. Season and single-game tickets remain on sale through the K-State Athletics Ticket office online at www.k-statesports.com/tickets, by phone at 1-800-221-CATS or in person at the ticket office inside Bramlage Coliseum.
K-STATE AT A GLANCE K-State, which is 6-3 on the young season, is looking to continue its solid play from the weekend when the Wildcats swept a three-game series from Oakland. K-State won a 4-2 contest on Saturday to open the series before a tremendous offensive display during a Sunday doubleheader with victories of 9-2 and 13-3. The Wildcats totaled 26 runs in the series on 35 hits, including 10 that went for extra bases. K-State also received dominant pitching performances all weekend long as the Cats limited the Grizzlies to just six earned runs on 16 hits and a .168 team batting average.
The Wildcats were paced offensively over the three games by junior third baseman RJ Santigate, who went 6-for-13. The Las Vegas, Nev., product saved his best stuff for the final game as he went 3-for-4 with his first career triple and a career-best four RBI. Shane Conlon, K-State’s leading hitter at .486 (17-for-35), continued his hot start to the season by collecting four hits in the series, while he has hit in each of the first nine games, the third-best mark to start a season under head coach Brad Hill. Both players rank highly in the Big 12 as Conlon is second in the league in batting average and on-base percentage (.525), third in slugging percentage (.657) and sixth in hits (17). Santigate’s .389 average, which ranks second on the team, is good for 10th in the Big 12 following play last weekend.
Kansas State is expected to start a pair of right-handers in Jake Doller on Tuesday and Blake McFadden on Wednesday. A senior, Doller is scheduled to make his first career start after 52 relief appearances during his three-plus years in Manhattan. He has seen time in two games this year, giving up a run on two hits with a walk and a strikeout. McFadden, a freshman, came to K-State as a highly-regarded recruit out of the state of Missouri. The Savannah, Mo., product picked up First Team High School All-America honors from Collegiate Baseball and was named the Prep Baseball Report Missouri Pitcher of the Year and the Gatorade Missouri Baseball Player of the Year after going 10-0 with a 0.13 ERA. In two relief appearances to begin his collegiate career, McFadden has tossed two scoreless innings, allowing one hit against seven batters faced. DID YOU KNOW • Head coach Brad Hill is one victory away from becoming the second coach in school history with 300 wins. • Hill entered the 2013 season seventh in the nation among active coaches with a .692 career winning percentage. • Kansas State is 61-8 in non-conference home games since 2009. • Kansas State’s five quality starts by its pitchers in 2013 are the most since the 2009 club also had five in its first nine games. • K-State tallied 15 strikeouts against George Mason on February 17, the most by the Wildcats since March 11, 2011. • Shane Conlon has opened up 2013 with a nine-game hitting streak, a mark that is the third-longest in Hill’s 10 years in Manhattan. • Conlon registered five hits against No. 8 Kentucky on February 21, the most by a Wildcat against a top-10 team since at least 1999. • Nate Williams has three-straight quality starts in his first three career starts, the best mark since Evan Marshall also had three to open 2010. • By allowing three earned runs in his 20 innings pitched, Williams is off to the third-best start by a starting pitcher at K-State under Hill.
HOME COOKIN’ Kansas State opened its 31-game home schedule and a 19-game homestand last weekend against Oakland looking to turn Tointon Family Stadium into a home field advantage yet again. The Wildcats have been difficult to defeat at home over the last few years as they have won at least 20 home games in five of the last eight seasons, while they are 88-33 (.727) over the last four-plus years. K-State’s home record is even more impressive in non-conference games as the Cats are 61-8 (.884) since 2009, including a perfect 18-0 mark four years ago.
QUICK STARTS With 17 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 is on its side as the Cats are currently 211-82 (.720) in non-conference games under head coach Brad Hill, including a 102-45 (.694) mark over the last four-plus seasons. In regular season non-conference games, the Cats have been even tougher as they are 200-66 (.752) over the last nine-plus years and 94-33 (.740) from 2009-13. HILL APPROACHING MILESTONE VICTORY In his 10th year as the Kansas State head coach, Brad Hill needs one more win to become the second coach in program history with 300 victories. Hill’s 299 wins at K-State rank second to the program’s all-time winningest coach Mike Clark, who registered 435 wins from 1987-2003. Additionally, Hill’s .568 winning percentage at Kansas State ranks fourth in program history among coaches that have been at the helm for at least 100 games. Mike Ahearn holds the top mark at .734 (93-33-2) from 1904-10.
The second win of Sunday’s doubleheader against Oakland gave Hill his 800th career win as a collegiate head coach when taking into account his 83 wins as the skipper at Hutchinson Community College from 1988-90 (Hill’s official career win total stands at 717 as the NCAA only takes into account records at four-year institutions). NIAGARA AT A GLANCE Niagara (3-7) begins a six-game road trip to play teams from the state of Kansas as the Purple Eagles follow their two games against K-State with a four-game series at KU beginning on Thursday. Niagara enters the trip on a high note as it won a three-game series at Delaware State. After dropping the first game, 8-1, last Friday, the Eagles battled back with wins of 16-11 and 13-10 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The other Niagara win this season came at Tennessee Tech on February 22, a 4-2 victory in 10 innings. Like K-State, the Eagles played a neutral-site game against Kentucky in South Carolina, a 20-3 loss in Spartanburg.
Niagara is hitting .242 as a team thanks to a total of 31 hits in the Delaware State series. The squad is paced by freshman infielder Michael Fuhrman, who is hitting .324 (12-for-37) with two doubles and five RBI. Three players - senior Ryan McCauley and freshmen Greg Rodgers and Pavel Chavez-Rusova - have all of Niagara’s six home runs with two apiece. McCauley, who had three hits against Delaware State last Saturday, is the only other Purple Eagle hitting .300 (9-for-30), while Chavez-Rusova paces the squad with seven RBI. McCauley, Rodgers and freshman Christian Vangeison are second in RBI with six apiece. Freshman outfielder Logan Linder is coming off a pair of two-RBI contests against Delaware State, including Sunday in which he went 3-for-3.
Niagara is expected to start freshman right-hander Kyle Olver on Tuesday and junior left-hander Joel Klock on Wednesday. Olver won his first-career start at Tennessee Tech when he tossed nine innings, allowing two runs on four hits with three walks and six strikeouts. Olver went to Niagara from Vancouver, B.C., as one of the top players in the British Columbia Premier Baseball League.
Klock will be making his first appearance on the mound this season. A two-way player, Klock started eight games in 2012 as he earned a 1-2 record and a 5.84 ERA with 20 walks and 28 strikeouts in 44.2 innings.
Junior right-hander Sean Quinlan leads the team in relief appearances this season with six as he is 1-0 with a 5.59 ERA. Jason Schwartz, a sophomore right-hander, has both of the Eagles’ saves this year and is 0-1 with a 3.00 ERA in five outings.
THE NIAGARA SERIES Kansas State holds a 6-0 lead in the all-time series against Niagara after sweeping a two-game series in 2000 and a four-game stint in 2009, while the Wildcats are looking to protect an unblemished mark against current Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference foes as K-State is 9-0 in those contests.
Four years ago against the Purple Eagles, K-State took both games of a Friday doubleheader, 12-1 and 9-8, before victories of 12-2 and 15-1 on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. The Wildcats registered a .413 batting average (57-for-138) with 18 doubles, one triple, one homer and 42 RBI while limiting Niagara to just 12 runs (eight earned) on 29 hits over the four games. Carter Jurica was on fire during the series, hitting .786 (11-for-14) with four doubles and four RBI, while current K-State graduate manager Drew Biery was 8-for-15 with four doubles. Then-freshman Kayvon Bahramzadeh tossed a complete game, allowing just one earned run on five hits with no walks and five strikeouts.
THE FRIENDLY CONFINES After consecutive trips to South Carolina to open the season, K-State is in the middle of a 19-game homestand to begin the month of March. The 19-consecutive home games are tied for the second most in school history and are the most since 1982. During the long homestand, the Wildcats will face eight different opponents including 21st-ranked Cal Poly this weekend and a pair of Big Ten foes in Minnesota and Nebraska. Additionally, the homestand serves as the beginning of conference play as Kansas State hosts West Virginia in the Mountaineers’ first ever Big 12 series, March 15-17.
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. So far, five freshmen hurlers in right-handers Jake Matthys, Levi MaVorhis and Blake McFadden, and lefties Landon Busch and Hayden Nixon have found early success. The group has combined to go 2-0 with a 1.39 ERA while walking seven and striking out 12.
Matthys has been especially impressive in his first four collegiate appearances. The Spring Lake Park, Minn., product, who has not surrendered a run in five innings, earned the win against George Mason as he entered the game runners on the corners and two outs in the sixth inning and got out of the frame with a ground out before retiring six of the next eight batters he faced. MaVorhis also picked up the win against No. 8 Kentucky by allowing just an unearned run on two hits with a strikeout in two innings.
CONLON’S HOT START Sophomore Shane Conlon is off to one of the better starts offensively in the Brad Hill era at K-State as he has hit in each of the first nine games, a mark that is tied for third. The start by Conlon, who leads the team and ranks second with a .486 (17-for-35) average, is impressive considering he is hitting for the first time since 2011 as he was exclusively a pitcher last year before an injury cut his season short.
Conlon was a big reason why K-State was able to knock off No. 8 Kentucky on February 21 as he went 5-for-5 with a two-run homer while also scoring a pair of runs. His five hits and eight total bases against a talented Kentucky pitching staff are the most in the Big 12 this year and the most by a Wildcat against a top-10 team since at least 1999.
KNOCKING OFF THE TOP 10 Kansas State’s 7-5 victory over No. 8 Kentucky on February 21 was an encouraging sign for the beginning of the season, especially considering the Wildcats had just dropped a heart-breaking 2-1 contest to Coastal Carolina earlier in the day. The victory marked the second neutral-site win over a non-league top-10 team under head coach Brad Hill. The Wildcats are now 2-2 in those games, falling to No. 1 Rice, 13-0, at Minute Maid Park in Houston during the 2004 season before splitting a pair of games against No. 4 Arizona State in Surprise, Ariz., in 2009.
SANTIGATE’S SIZZLING START A season after hitting .204 in 50 games, junior RJ Santigate has begun 2013 on fire as he ranks second on the team and 10th in the Big 12 with a .389 (14-for-36) batting average. Santigate, who’s seven hits in the first weekend were the most by a Wildcat since 2009, struggled during the second week of action but battled back against Oakland. The third baseman led the Wildcats with six hits in the series, including a three-hit, four-RBI performance in the series finale. His four RBI were a career high, two of which came on his first career triple that capped an eight-run second inning.
SO FAR, SO GOOD Sophomore pitcher Nate Williams, who tallied a K-State freshman record six saves in 23 outings last year, has been outstanding in his first three career starts, surrendering just three earned runs over 20 innings pitched. The Valley Center, Kan., product is coming off a career-long 7.2-inning performance against Oakland, a game in which he no-hit the Grizzlies through the first 5.2 innings.
Williams is first Wildcat pitcher to register quality starts (six or more innings pitched, three or fewer earned runs allowed) in his first three career starts since Evan Marshall also began the 2010 season with three straight. Additionally, Williams is off to the third-best start to a season by a starting pitcher in 20 innings pitched during head coach Brad Hill’s nine-plus year in Manhattan.
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.