TUESDAY PROMOTIONS Pregame Tailgate; T-Shirt Tuesday; $1 Popcorn, Pretzels and Candy GAME INFORMATION WICHITA STATE at K-STATE Overall: Wichita State leads, 51-31 In Manhattan: Series tied, 18-18 Last Season: Wichita State swept two- game series, 9-7 (Manhattan) and 10-3 (Wichita).
K-STATE at OMAHA Overall: K-State leads, 4-0 Last Meeting: K-State won, 3-2, April 3, in Manhattan, Kan.
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Fresh off a perfect 5-0 record last week, Kansas State looks to continue its winning ways in a Tuesday contest against Wichita State and a Wednesday tilt at Omaha. The midweek games begin a five-game week at four different stadiums. Tuesday’s game against the Shockers at Tointon Family Stadium is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., while the Wildcats will travel to Warner Park in Omaha for a 6 p.m., contest against UNO.
A pregame tailgate, which features multiple food and beverage items, will be held Tuesday beginning at 5:30 p.m., in the southwest lawn area of the Tointon Family Stadium grounds. The contest also serves as T-Shirt Tuesday with the first 100 fans into the stadium receiving a free t-shirt, while popcorn, pretzels and candy are available for only $1. Fans can order tickets online at www.k-statesports.com/tickets, by phone at 1-800-221-CATS or at the stadium box office beginning 60 minutes prior to first pitch.
Tuesday’s game will be televised to a statewide audience on Cox Communications’ Kansas 22 as well as MetroSports in the Kansas City area with Brian Smoller and Mike Clark on the call. Wyatt Thompson and Matt Walters will call the action on the K-State Sports Network Tuesday evening. Wednesday’s contest at Omaha will be aired in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN, while both games can be heard online for free at www.k-statesports.com.
K-STATE AT A GLANCE Kansas State holds a 23-10 overall record thanks to wins over Nebraska and Omaha last Tuesday and Wednesday, respectively, and a weekend sweep of Texas Tech. The Wildcats, who have won 11 of their last 13, are now 13 games over .500 for the first time since entering the 2011 NCAA Tournament at 36-23. The sweep of the Red Raiders improved K-State’s Big 12 record to 6-3, just one game behind conference-leader and top-10 squad Oklahoma, as the Wildcats enter a stretch of six-straight non-conference games.
Receiving votes in the USA TODAY Sports Coaches’ Top 25 for a third-straight week and the NCBWA poll for the first time this season, K-State used a 6-5 walk-off win on Friday to jump-start a series in which the Wildcats outscored the Red Raiders, 33-9. Sophomore Austin Fisher was Friday-night’s hero as he hit a two-strike, two-out pitch through the right side of the infield to plate the game-winning run. On Saturday, K-State scored nine first-inning runs en route to a 15-2 victory as the Wildcats recorded their second-highest margin of victory in a Big 12 game since the formation of the league in 1997. On Sunday, K-State broke a 1-1 tie with six runs in the fifth inning on its way to a 12-2 run-rule win.
Kansas State holds a .331 team batting average to lead the Big 12 and rank third nationally. The Wildcats’ 372 hits rank fourth in the NCAA, while they also rank in the top 25 in eight other offensive categories. Senior outfielder Jon Davis earned Big 12 Player of the Week honors after going 9-for-17 (.529) with a home run and eight RBI last week, including his first career grand slam in the first inning on Saturday. Davis improved his season batting average to .340, while leading the Big 12 with 14 hit-by-pitches and ranking in the top 10 in seven other categories.
Ross Kivett leads the Wildcats and ranks fifth in the Big 12 with a .388 batting average. The second baseman paces the squad with 16 multi-hit games, while he has 50 hits this season to rank second in the league and 12th nationally. Catcher Blair DeBord is hitting .366, while Tanner Witt is also above .360 at .364. Witt is one of four Wildcats with a team-leading 23 RBI, joining Fisher, RJ Santigate and Jared King. First baseman Shane Conlon leads the team with six home runs thanks to two last weekend. He homered on both Saturday and Sunday, while his two-run shot in the eighth inning of the series finale ended the game in a run-rule.
Kansas State is expected to start right-hander Jake Doller Tuesday evening against Wichita State, while the Wildcats have not announced a starter for Wednesday’s tilt against the Mavericks. Doller is 2-2 with a 1.95 ERA in eight outings, including five starts. The senior has been solid this year as a starting pitcher, going 2-1 with a 1.09 ERA as he has allowed only three earned runs in 24.2 innings with 10 walks and 23 strikeouts. DID YOU KNOW • Kansas State is 11-5 this year in games where its opponent scores first. • The Wildcats are 72-12 since 2009 in non-conference home games. • Kansas State is 13 games above .500 for the first time since entering the 2011 NCAA Tournament at 36-23. • The Wildcats are three games above .500 in Big 12 play at least three series into a season for the first time since 2010. • Kansas State leads the Big 12 in seven offensive categories, including batting average (.331), hits (372), runs (228) and steals (62). • The Wildcats’ .331 batting average at this point in the season is their highest since 2010. • K-State enters the week ranked in the top 25 nationally in batting average (3rd), hits (4th), triples (9th), on-base percentage (10th), slugging percentage (12th), hit-by-pitch (16th), runs (18th), steals (20th) and sacrifice flies (25th). • Kansas State’s 13-run win over Texas Tech on Saturday was the Wildcats’ second-highest margin of victory in a Big 12 game. • Freshman hurlers Jake Matthys and Levi MaVorhis are a combined 7-0 with two saves.
NON-CON DOMINANCE Kansas State has continued its outstanding recent success in non-conference games this season as, thanks to a 17-7 mark against non-league competition, the Wildcats are currently 222-86 (.719) under head coach Brad Hill, including a 113-48 (.702) mark over the last four-plus seasons. In regular season non-conference games, the Cats have been even tougher as they are 211-70 (.751) over the last nine-plus years and 105-37 (.739) from 2009-13.
HOME WIN NO. 20 Kansas State, which is 19-5 at home this season, is looking for its sixth 20-win home slate in the last nine years and the 18th in school history with a win Tuesday against Wichita State. K-State is 101-38 (.727) at home over the last four-plus years, while its record is even more impressive in non conference games as the Cats are 72-12 (.957) since 2009 in those contests. Tuesday’s game against the Shockers serves as the final non-conference home game this season, while the Wildcats have just six home games remaining in 2013. WICHITA STATE AT A GLANCE Wichita State enters Tuesday’s game with an 18-15 record following a series victory over Indiana State in Wichita last weekend. The Shockers won the first two games, 4-1 and 11-3, but dropped the series finale, 7-5. After sitting at 12-11 following a series loss at Hawaii, WSU has won six of its last 10 games, including a pair of Missouri Valley Conference series wins.
Hitting .287 as a team, Wichita State is led by junior outfielder Garrett Bayliff, who is hitting .343 with three doubles, one triple and 13 RBI. Tyler Baker and Casey Gillaspie are also hitting above .300 at .318 and .313, respectively. Gillaspie leads the team with 11 doubles, seven home runs and 25 RBI. Baker is second on the squad with three homers and 21 RBI.
The Shockers are expected to start left-hander Drew Palmer Tuesday night. The junior transfer from Cowley College has not factored into a decision in his seven appearances, including two starts. Palmer holds a 4.58 ERA, allowing nine earned runs on 22 hits with eight walks and 11 strikeouts in 17.2 innings of work. In his start against Arizona State last Tuesday, Palmer allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits with two walks and four strikeouts in three innings.
Juniors Aaron LaBrie and Brandon Peterson led the Shocker bullpen. LaBrie, who is 2-0 with a 0.61 ERA, has two saves in 14 outings, while Peterson has registered a team-best three saves in 11 outings. A native of Savage, Minn., Peterson has surrendered only four earned runs in 19.1 innings to hold a 1.86 ERA.
OMAHA AT A GLANCE After falling to 6-15 on the season following last Wednesday’s loss to Kansas State, Omaha has won its last four games with doubleheader sweeps over Fort Wayne (6-2 and 2-0) on Friday and Oakland (7-0 and 7-4) on Sunday. The twin bills served as the first four Summit League games as the Mavericks hold a two-game lead in the conference standings.
Omaha, which is now hitting .285 as a team, continues to be led at the plate by sophomore catcher Alex Mortensen at .356 with a team-high 10 doubles, one home run and eight RBI. Designated hitter Brett Bass is hitting .340 with four doubles and 12 RBI, while Clayton Taylor and Brett Miller are each hitting .300 or better at .322 and .300, respectively. Connor Messinger, who is hitting .293, leads the team in home runs (2) and RBI (16). The Mavericks, who will start left-hander Steven Schoonover Tuesday night against Air Force, have not announced a starting pitcher for Wednesday’s game against K-State.
THE WICHITA STATE SERIES Wichita State leads the all-time series, 51-31, after winning each of the last three meetings, the longest winning streak by the Shockers since taking nine-straight from 2001-04. The Wildcats, who had won six-straight prior to the recent Shocker run, is an even 18-18 against WSU in games played in Manhattan. K-State also holds a 99-103-1 mark against Missouri Valley Conference foes.
The Shockers won a 15-inning marathon in Manhattan last year by scoring two in the 15th to win, 9-7. The next week, Wichita State won its first game against K-State at home since 2006 with a 10-3 victory. Tanner Witt and Jared King hold the best batting average on the squad against WSU at .294. As a freshman, Witt set a career high with four RBI in the first contest against WSU, a mark he equaled last Tuesday against Nebraska. In last year’s series, King hit a home run as he went 4-for-10 over the two games.
THE OMAHA SERIES Following last week’s 3-2 victory, K-State is a perfect 4-0 all-time against Omaha with all four games being played in Manhattan. Kansas State holds 34-2 record all-time against teams from The Summit League, a conference Omaha joined prior to this season. Jared King holds a .583 career batting average against the Mavericks, while Tanner Witt is hitting .375 in four games, including a 2-for-3 mark last Wednesday. HIT FACTORY After hitting only .281 as a team last season, K-State has been red hot at the plate in 2013 as the Wildcats rank third nationally with a .331 batting average, moving up seven spots from last week. Kansas State leads the Big 12 by an astonishing 30 points thanks to 24 games with 10 or more hits. The Wildcats’ current average is currently the second-highest mark in school history and the highest at this point in a season since 2010 when the Wildcats were hitting .334. K-State only had 30 games with 10 or more hits over the 58-game 2012 season and 28 in 61 games during 2011. Even more impressive is the fact that the Wildcats enter the week with only one player (Ross Kivett, 55th) ranked in the top 60 individually despite sitting third as a team. Kivett ranks 12th nationally in hits with 50, while Tanner Witt ranks 37th with 47.
WHAT A SERIES K-State’s team average jumped nine points last weekend thanks to a .417 mark in the three-game series against Texas Tech. The Wildcats registered 45 hits in the series, the second-highest in a three-game Big 12 series in school history and the most since the league’s first year of 1997. The Wildcats, which topped out at 33 runs for the weekend, collected the fifth-most in a Big 12 series in program history. Three of Kansas State’s five highest-scoring Big 12 series have come within the last four years. Additionally, K-State registered 15 two-out RBI against the Red Raiders, the most in a Big 12 series under Brad Hill.
UNLIKELY HOME RUN LEADERS With just one home run between the two entering 2013, Kansas State’s Shane Conlon and Jon Davis might have been the most unlikely duo to lead the team in home runs this season. Conlon leads the team with six home runs, just one ahead of Davis. In fact, five players on K-State’s roster had as many or more career home runs entering 2013 than Conlon and Davis combined, while Davis’ lone homer was in the final game of the 2012 season. Additionally, Conlon is hitting for the first time since 2011 as he was exclusively a pitcher last year prior to a season-ending injury. Conlon enters this weekend’s series tied for third in the Big 12 in home runs, while Davis is tied for fifth.
TRIPLING AT A TORRID PACE K-State has already registered a Big 12-leading 16 triples this season and is on pace for 27 during the regular season, a mark that would tie for third in school history. The 16 triples just over the halfway point of the year are the most at this point in the last 10 seasons, seven more than the 2005 squad’s nine. Also, the Cats enter the week ranked ninth nationally in triples. Sophomores Austin Fisher and Mitch Meyer, who tripled Sunday against Texas Tech, lead the team and are tied for third in the Big 12 with three. Shane Conlon, Tanner Witt and Jon Davis each have two.
KIVETT CATCHING FIRE Junior second baseman Ross Kivett is in the midst of perhaps his best stretch of games offensively as a Wildcat. The Broadview Heights, Ohio, product leads Kansas State with a .388 batting average to rank fifth in the Big 12, while his 50 hits are just three behind league-leader Matt Oberste (Oklahoma). Kivett, who has 10 multi-hit games in the last 13 games, is on pace for 85 hits during the regular season, a mark that would rank in the top 10 in school history.
A product of Broadview Heights, Ohio, Kivett has seen his average raise 46 points since March 20 thanks to four games of three or more hits, including a career-high tying four base hits Saturday against Texas Tech. Kivett also set a new career high with five RBI on March 26 against Nebraska.
THROWN INTO THE FIRE Right-handers Jake Matthys and Levi MaVorhis have been outstanding out of the bullpen for K-State through the first half of their freshmen campaigns. Matthys holds a 4-0 record and a 2.08 ERA with one save, while MaVorhis is 3-0 with a 2.62 ERA. The duo has combined for a 2.40 ERA despite being inserted into games in pressure situations. MaVorhis and Matthys have inherited 25 runners between the two, allowing only four to score.
In Big 12 play, the freshmen have been even better as Matthys is tied for first with two Big 12 wins and tied for third with a pair of saves. Additionally, the Spring Lake Park, Minn., native is tied for first in appearances with six. MaVorhis, who is 1-0 in Big 12 action, pitched a career-long four innings Friday against Texas Tech and allowed only an unearned run. MaVorhis was unable to get the final out of the ninth inning as Matthys came out of the bullpen and induced a fly out before K-State won the game in the bottom half.
FOUR WILDCATS START 2013 IN TRIPLE A With the professional baseball season beginning last week, five former Kansas State players were assigned to their respective Triple A clubs. Pitcher Carlos Torres, who threw for Colorado last season, signed with the New York Met organization during the offseason and began the year pitching for the Las Vegas 51s. Torres played his senior campaign at K-State in 2004 and has seen time in the big leagues with the Chicago White Sox. Infielder Jared Goedert, who was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 2006, signed with Pittsburgh in the offseason and is playing for Indianapolis.
Infielders Carter Jurica (2008-10) and Nate Tenbrink (2006-08), as well as pitcher Evan Marshall (2009-11), made their first Triple A clubs this season. Jurica, a member of the San Francisco Giant organization, is playing for the Fresno Grizzlies, which opened up its season with a series against Tenbrink and the Tacoma Rainers, the Triple A affiliate of the Seattle Mariners. Marshall, a prospect in the Arizona Diamondback organization, is pitching for the Reno Aces.