/// PROBABLE STARTERS /// K-State - RHP Blake McFadden 1-1, 2.38 ERA, 11.1 IP, 1 BB, 7 K MINN - LHP DJ Snelten 0-0, 0.0 ERA, 0.0 IP, 0 BB, 0 K
SERIES PROMOTIONS Tuesday: Youth in Sports/Scouts Day; 2-for-1 Tuesday SERIES INFORMATION MINNESOTA at K-STATE Overall: Minnesota leads, 7-3 In Manhattan: Minnesota leads, 4-1 Last Meeting: K-State swept a two-game series, 9-5 and 8-4, March 13 and 14, 2012, in Minneapolis, Minn.
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Coming off a series win in its first Big 12 weekend, Kansas State returns to non-conference play over the next six contests beginning with a two-game set against Minnesota, Tuesday and Wednesday, at Tointon Family Stadium. K-State was victorious in both games at Minnesota last year and has won three of the last four meetings. The series begins at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday and concludes with a 3 p.m., first pitch Wednesday.
K-StateHD.TV on Fox Sports will broadcast both games with Tuesday's contest airing on Fox College Sports and Wednesday's series finale being shown on Fox Sports Midwest. Brian Smoller and former K-State coach Mike Clark are back for another season calling the action for all K-State produced TV games. Listeners in the Manhattan area can hear the series on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN, while free live audio is available online at both www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com with Matt Walters and Rob Voelker on the call.
The series opener on Tuesday carries two promotional activities as it is Youth in Sports/Scouts Day as well as a 2-for-1 Tuesday with two adult general admission bench tickets on sale for the price of one. Tickets are available online at www.k-statesports.com/tickets, by phone at 1-800-221-CATS or in person either at the main ticket office inside Bramlage Coliseum or at the Tointon Family Stadium box office beginning 60 minutes prior to first pitch.
K-STATE AT A GLANCE After dropping the first game against West Virginia by 11 runs, Kansas State was able to quickly bounce back with a pair of one-run victories to take the Big 12-opening series for both teams. In the second game of a Friday doubleheader, K-State jumped out to a 5-0 lead only to see WVU score one in the sixth and four in the seventh to tie the game. The Wildcats then loaded the bases in the eighth inning and senior Tanner Witt delivered with a two-out RBI single to plate the winning run before earning his third save of the year the next half inning.
In the series finale on Saturday, it was the Mountaineers who took an early 3-0 lead after three in the first inning before K-State tied the game with three of its own in the second. Following two scoreless frames, RJ Santigate was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded in the fifth for the eventual game-winning run. However, K-State wouldn't have been able to capture the series if it wasn't for the pitching of Matt Wivinis and Jake Matthys. Wivinis tossed six scoreless innings after allowing three runs in the first, while Matthys entered the game in the eighth inning with the tying run on third base before recording three-straight outs to preserve the one-run lead.
The Wildcats rank second in the Big 12 with a .313 team batting average and continue to be led by sophomore first baseman Shane Conlon at .403. The Naperville, Ill., product, who held a 15-game hitting streak to begin the season, ranks sixth in the Big 12 in average and sits in the top 10 of the league in eight other categories. Ross Kivett has seen his average jump 50 points over the last six games, a mark that now ranks second on the team at .362. Kivett also leads the team with seven doubles and ranks first in the Big 12 with 11 steals, while Santigate is third on the team with a .324 average and tops on the squad with 15 RBI. Jon Davis' four homers lead K-State and are tied for second in the Big 12.
For the second-straight week, K-State will send right-handers Jake Doller and Blake McFadden to the hill for its midweek contests. A relief pitcher his first three years in the program, Doller has shined as a midweek starter over the last two weeks, going 2-0 without giving up an earned run and surrendering only five hits. The senior is coming off a one-hit, six-strikeout performance against Northern Colorado last week. McFadden is looking to bounce back from a tough-luck loss last Wednesday when he surrendered only two runs in 4.1 innings. The week prior against Niagara, the freshman picked up his first career win by allowing one run on three hits with no walks and three strikeouts in five innings. DID YOU KNOW Kansas State is 65-11 in non-conference home games since 2009. Kansas State entered last week ranked in the top 25 nationally in triples (6th; 10), batting average (10th; .321), steals (14th; 35) and walks aowed per nine innings (24th; 2.49) Jon Davis has reached base safely in each of the last 17 games despite recording a hit in only 10 of those games. Jake Matthys ranks second in the Big 12 among freshmen relievers in combined wins and saves (3). Brad Hill became the second coach in program history to register 300 wins at K-State earlier this season. Hill entered the 2013 season seventh in the nation among active coaches with a .692 career winning percentage.
TOUGH AGAINST NON-CON 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 215-85 (.717) in non-conference games under head coach Brad Hill, including a 106-47 (.693) mark over the last four-plus seasons. In regular season non-conference games, the Cats have been even tougher as they are 204-69 (.747) over the last nine-plus years and 98-36 (.731) from 2009-13.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE Kansas State is looking to turn Tointon Family Stadium into a home field advantage yet again this year. The Wildcats, who are 9-4 at home over the first 13 games of 2013, have been difficult to defeat on their home turf over the last few years as they have won at least 20 home games in five of the last eight seasons. K-State is 94-37 (.718) at home over the last four-plus years, while its record is even more impressive in non-conference games as the Cats are 65-11 (.855) since 2009 in those contests. CLOSE CALLS After falling by 11 in the series opener to West Virginia, K-State was able to battle back and win a pair of one-run games to take the series. It marked just the fifth time since the Big 12's first year in 1997 that the Wildcats won a pair of one-run conference games in the same series. Two years ago against Texas Tech, K-State won the first two games, 2-1 and 4-3, en route to a series sweep, while the 2008 Wildcats swept KU thanks to victories of 5-4 and 11-10 in the final two contests. MINNESOTA AT A GLANCE Minnesota brings its 12-8 record to Manhattan after dropping a series to Indiana State last weekend at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. The Golden Gophers lost a close 2-1 game to the Sycamores on Friday before a 3-0 victory Saturday. In the rubber match, Minnesota jumped out to a 3-0 lead, but ISU used a six-run sixth inning to fuel a 9-4 series-clinching victory. The midweek series against K-State is the beginning of a five-game stretch for Minnesota against Big 12 competition as the Gophers host Texas this weekend.
Hitting .263 as a team, Minnesota is led by outfielder Andy Henkemeyer at .333. The senior has recorded a team-high six doubles, one triple, one homer and 11 RBI. Michael Handel, a sophomore shortstop, is also hitting above .300 at .320 with four doubles, one triple, a team-best two homers and 10 RBI, while he is also the team leader in steals with five. Both players are coming off two-hit games on Sunday. Junior infielder Dan Olinger paces the squad with 12 RBI, while Matt Halloran, a junior catcher, is tied with Henkemeyer in doubles.
Minnesota is expected to start sophomore right-hander Ty McDevitt on Tuesday and junior lefty DJ Snelten on Wednesday. In six appearances, including one start, McDevitt holds a 1-0 record and a 2.08 ERA after allowing three earned runs on six hits in 13 innings, while recording a 13-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His first start of the year was a winning-effort against Nebraska Omaha last Tuesday when he threw a pitch-count start of four shutout innings with one hit, three walks and four strikeouts.
Wednesday's contest will serve as the season debut for Snelten as the Ingelside, Ill., product battled injuries prior to the start of the season. As a sophomore last year, Snelten went 4-4 with a 3.24 ERA in 16 games, including 13 starts.
K-State was successful against both Snelten and McDevitt in last year's series opener in Minneapolis. The Wildcats registered five runs on six hits and worked three walks without begin struck out against Snelten to begin the game. McDevitt followed Snelten out of the bullpen and gave up four runs on three hits in 1.2 innings.
THE MINNESOTA SERIES Minnesota leads the all-time series over K-State, 7-3, but the Wildcats have won three of the last four meetings. In 2010, K-State and Minnesota split a two-game series as the Cats' series-opening win was the first in school history against the Gophers. Last year in Minneapolis, the Wildcat offense was on fire as Kansas State swept a two-game series by scores of 9-5 and 8-4. Former Wildcat Wade Hinkle led the way with four hits and five RBI, including a tower grand slam in game one. Ross Kivett had two hits and two RBI, while Jared King hit a two-run homer.
Kansas State holds a 137-188 all-time record against current members of the Big Ten Conference but is 31-25 against the league when taking out its conference series history against former league mate Nebraska.
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, and four games against Big Ten foes over the next three weeks with two games against both Minnesota and Nebraska. The homestand has also served as the beginning of conference play as Kansas State took two-of-three last weekend against West Virginia.
THE NEED FOR SPEED After recording only seven stolen bases in the first six games, Kansas State has improved its running game since returning home by tallying 33 steals in the last 13 games, including a season-high seven in contests against Niagara on March 5 and 6. K-State, which entered last week ranked 11th nationally in steals per game at 2.5, ranks second in the Big 12 with its 40 total steals. Ross Kivett leads the way for the Wildcats with a Big 12-leading 11 stolen bases, including a pair of three-steal games against Cal Poly (March 9) and Northern Colorado (March 12).
K-State is looking to continue a streak of five-straight seasons with over 100 steals. Last year, K-State registered 104 steals to rank seventh in school history, while the 2009 squad broke the school record with 149. Through the first 19 games of 2013, K-State is on pace for 118 steals during the regular season, which would rank fifth in school history. THE HITS KEEP ON COMING K-State is off to one of its better starts in the hit department, recording 200 in the first 19 games thanks to 14 contests with at least 10 hits. Of the 200 hits, 135 have come in the first 13 home games with the Wildcats hitting the 10-hit mark on all but three occasions. Kansas State currently ranks second in the Big 12 with a .313 batting average, a mark that has fallen since entering last week ranked 10th nationally at .321.
DOLLER HAS BEEN MONEY Senior Jake Doller, who had 52 career relief appearances under his belt, has started each of the last two Tuesday games for K-State and been nothing short of spectacular. The right-hander has gone 2-0, surrendering only an unearned run with two walks and 12 strikeouts. Additionally, Doller has allowed just five hits in 40 at-bats, good for a .125 opponent batting average.
Last week against Northern Colorado, Doller and freshman Landon Busch combined to allow just one hit in an 11-0 win. In that contest, Doller faced just two batters over the minimum in a career-high seven innings.
YOUNG TOUGHNESS Freshman right-hander Jake Matthys has been K-State's most dominant relief pitcher in pressure situations in his first year in Manhattan. Matthys, who is 2-0 with a 2.70 ERA and one save, has been one of the top Big 12 freshmen relief pitchers making an impact on the outcome of games as he has the second-most combined wins and saves (Oklahoma's Jacob Evans has five by going 2-0 with three saves).
Matthys was an integral part to the Wildcats' series win over West Virginia last weekend as he tossed three perfect innings with six strikeouts. He struck out the side in the eighth inning in the second game before K-State drove in the game-winning run in the bottom half as he picked up the win. Then, in Saturday's rubber match, Matthys was called upon with a runner on third base and no outs in the eighth inning as K-State led, 4-3. All the right-hander did was record a short fly ball, a line out and a strikeout to preserve the one-run lead before a perfect ninth inning.
DAVIS DOING HIS JOB Senior outfielder Jon Davis has been a mainstay in the K-State by starting all 19 games this season. The Juneau, Alaska, product leads the Wildcats and ranks second in the Big 12 with four home runs, but the fact that he has consistently reached base is the reason why he stays in the lineup. Davis has reached base in 18 of the team's 19 games this season and is currently riding a team-best 17-game streak of reaching base safely. His current streak includes only 10 games with a hit as he has worked eight walks and been hit by 10 pitches during that span. He already sits just two away from entering the school's top-10 for hit-by-pitch in a season, while his career total of 23 is tied for ninth.
CONLON'S HOT START Sophomore Shane Conlon ranks fourth in the Big 12 with a .403 batting average, which is impressive considering he is batting for the first time since 2011. The first baseman held a 15-game hitting streak to open the year, which tied for the longest to start a season in the Brad Hill era (Carter Jurica, 2010).
Conlon is a big reason why K-State has been able to knock off a pair of ranked opponents. Against No. 8 Kentucky on February 21, Conlon went 5-for-5 with a two-run homer. His five hits 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. Then, against No. 21 Cal Poly, Conlon was 2-for-3 with two RBI and two runs scored hitting as the No. 3 man in the lineup for the first time in his career.
FISHER BECOMES STAPLE AT SHORT After a battle during the offseason, sophomore Austin Fisher has taken a hold of the starting job at shortstop with his play to begin the 2013 campaign. The Lenexa, Kan., product ranks fourth on the team in batting average among full-time starters at .318 with four doubles, two triples, one homer and 13 RBI. His RBI total is impressive as he has hit ninth in the batting order in 14 of the 19 games. In fact, Fisher held a streak of seven-straight games with a RBI from March 2 to March 8, which ranked fourth overall and was the top mark by a No. 9 hitter in the last 10 years. He has also continually delivered the big hit for the Wildcats, leading the team with six two-out RBI.