SERIES INFORMATION K-STATE at OKLAHOMA STATE Overall: Oklahoma State leads, 148-56 In Stillwater: Oklahoma State leads, 87-14 Last Season: K-State swept three-ame series, 14-11, 9-3 and 13-3 (7), March 26 and 28. 2010, in Manhattan, Kan.
COACHES K-STATE:Brad Hill Alma Mater: Emporia State, 1984 Career Record: 674-271-3 (17th season) Record at K-State: 256-183-3 (8th season)
OKLAHOMA STATE: Frank Anderson Alma Mater: Emporia State, 1983 Career Record: 290-171 (8th season) Record at Oklahoma State: Same
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Following a two-game road sweep at Cal State Bakersfield, Kansas State will take its six-game winning streak into Big 12 action this weekend as the Wildcats travel to Stillwater, Okla., to face Oklahoma State, Friday-Sunday, April 29-May 1, at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium. The Cats will be looking to extend their recent success over OSU as they have won seven straight and nine of the last 11 in the series. All three games of the OSU series can be heard in the Manhattan area on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN and online at both www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com with Brian Smoller and Ryan Lackey on the call.
After earning its first ever sweep over Texas Tech, K-State traveled to California to meet Cal State Bakersfield for the first of two midweek series this season. The Wildcats jumped out to a 4-1 lead after a four-run fifth inning on Monday only to see the Roadrunners score once in the bottom half and twice in the seventh to tie the game. Ross Kivett hit a one-out triple - his first of the year - in the ninth before Nick Martini singled home the freshman in the next at-bat for the go-ahead run. James Allen, who earned the save in all three games of the Tech series, came on to earn his fourth-straight with a perfect ninth.
Kansas State jumped all over CSUB from the early going on Tuesday, scoring three in the first, one in the third, two in the fifth and three more in the sixth en route to a 9-0 shutout win. Freshman Jared King led the charge with four hits, including a pair of solo home runs, while Jason King also recorded three base hits.
Kivett and Martini have led K-State offensively this season as each are hitting above .300 at .333 and .329, respectively. Jason King has eight of the team’s 20 home runs this season, while Mike Kindel doubled twice on Monday to push his total to a team-leading 14, which is tied for fourth in the Big 12.
K-State is scheduled to start its regular two starters in left-hander Kyle Hunter on Friday and right-hander Matt Applegate on Saturday, while Shane Conlon will get the nod on Sunday. Hunter holds a 4-3 record and a 2.93 ERA this season and is coming off a win against Texas Tech last Friday in which he allowed three runs on six hits in 5.1 innings as he threw 112 pitches, his seventh 100-pitch outing this season. Applegate work nearly untouchable against the Red Raiders, striking out 13 batters in seven innings of work as he allowed just one run on seven hits for his first Big 12 victory this season. Conlon set the tone for the Wildcats’ sweep of Tech as he made his first career start on Thursday, throwing 6.2 shutout innings five no walks and five strikeouts.
DID YOU KNOW • K-State is currently riding a season-high tying six-game win streak. The Cats also won six games from March 4-12. If the Cats were to win Friday, it would represent their longest win streak since a seven-gamer in late March last season. • The Wildcats have 307 strikeouts this year and are on pace for 419, which would rank third in school history. • K-State’s pitching staff holds an ERA of 3.42, which would be the lowest since the introduction of the aluminum bat in 1977 and the third lowest overall in school history. • K-State has the third-most drafted players on its roster in the Big 12 with eight, behind only Texas (16) and Oklahoma St. (12). • James Allen has set new Kansas State records for single-season saves (14) and career saves (28) with three last weekend and another at Cal State Bakersfield. He broke the records of Daniel Edwards, who had 12 in 2008 and 26 in his career. • 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. • 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 Jared’s two solo shots on Tuesday. • Nick Martini’s streak of consecutive games reaching base came to an end at 93. He recorded a hit in 76 of the games during the streak, while the junior held a .493 on-base percentage and a .387 batting average during that span.
TOUGH FROM THE START Kansas State’s top two starting pitchers - Kyle Hunter and Matt Applegate - have combined to register 12 quality starts this season, while the duo is 7-4 with a 3.07 ERA over the past eight weeks, surrendering 34 earned runs in a combined 99.2 innings of work and 8.13 strikeouts per nine innings during that span.
Applegate, who was two outs away from recording K-State’s first no-hitter since 1976 against Long Island, has gone at least five innings and limited opponents to three runs or less in five of his six Big 12 starts. Last week against Texas Tech, Applegate struck out 13 Red Raiders, the most by a Wildcat since 2004 and the second most in the Big 12 this season. The right-hander allowed just one run on seven hits and only walked one batter.
Hunter notched his first Big 12 win of the season against No. 7 Oklahoma, helping the Cats shutout the Sooners for the first time since March 31, 1990, while he earned Big 12 Pitcher of the Week honors. He allowed just four hits in 23 at-bats (.174) against a team that led the league with a .337 batting average entering the weekend, while he limited OU to fewer than five hits for just the fourth time this season.
OFFENSE HITTING ITS STRIDE The Wildcat offense has been a big reason K-State has won its last six games. During the current winning streak, the team has combined for a .313 batting average (62-for-198) with 11 doubles, four triples, three homers and 31 RBI. Kansas State has averaged 5.7 runs per game over the past week after just 3.8 in the eight previous contests entering the winning streak.
Kansas State’s hit total has also seen a dramatic jump as the Wildcats have hit the 10-hit mark four times during their current winning streak, including their last three games. Over the past six games, the Cats have tallied 10.3 hits per game compared to an 8.6 hit-per-game average in the first 35 games of the season. Of K-State’s 62 hits over the last six games, 18 have gone for extra bases.
OKLAHOMA STATE AT A GLANCE Much like K-State opponent earlier in the week, Oklahoma State will be looking to rebound from a four-game losing skid despite a solid record of 28-13 and a 10-8 mark in the Big 12. The Cowboys had won six of seven until being swept at Texas A&M last weekend by scores of 11-2, 5-1 and 8-1. On Tuesday, OSU fell at Wichita State, 6-5.
The Cowboys rank second in the Big 12 with a .299 batting average, while they are also second in slugging percentage (.444) and RBI (221), and third in home runs (26). Catcher/designated hitter Dane Phillips paces the squad with a .381 average, which is fourth in the league. The sophomore also has a Big 12-best eight triples and has driven in 28 runs. Behind Phillips at .338 is junior infielder Zach Johnson, who leads the team with 15 doubles, five home runs and 36 RBI. Utility man Gabe Weidenaar (.329), infielder Davis Duren (.306) and catcher/outfielder Jared Womack (.301) are the other OSU regulars hitting above .300.
Oklahoma State is scheduled to start a pair of seniors in Mike Strong and Brad Propst on Friday and Saturday, respectively, while junior Hunter Herrera is expected to get the nod on Sunday. Strong, a left-hander is 3-1 with a 3.83 ERA in 10 appearances, including eight starts. Last weekend in College Station, Strong lasted just 3.1 innings, allowing five runs on six hits with two walks and two strikeouts to suffer his first loss of the season.
Propst, a righty, holds the most impressive credentials among the OSU starters as he is 6-2 with a 2.01 ERA in 10 starts, including two complete games. He took a no decision last weekend as he was lifted after 4.1 innings, allowing a run on four hits. Herrera, another right-hander, will be making just his fifth start as he is 2-1 with a 3.38 ERA in seven outings this year. Against the Aggies, Herrera allowed five runs in five innings of work. THE OKLAHOMA STATE SERIES Oklahoma State holds a 148-56 advantage in the all-time series, but Kansas State is in the midst of its best stretch in the series. The Wildcats have won seven straight games - their longest winning streak over OSU - and nine of the last 11 meetings between the two programs dating back to the 2007 season. K-State swept last year’s three-game series in Manhattan after taking both games of a rain-shortened two-game set in Stillwater two years ago. In 2008, the Wildcats lost the first game of the regular-season series to OSU, but came back to win games two and three before topping the second-seeded Cowboys in the 2008 Big 12 Championship. Kansas State trails 87-14 in games played in Stillwater, but the Cats have won four of the last six at Allie P. Reynolds Stadium and have taken at least one game on the road in the last three series.
Last year saw the Wildcats earn their first conference-opening sweep since the inception of the Big 12 and their first three-game sweep over Oklahoma State since 1974. In game one, K-State trailed 11-7 after a three-run OSU eighth, but the Wildcats scored seven times in the bottom half, including a two-RBI single by Daniel Dellasega and a bases-clearing triple by Kent Urban to win, 14-11. After rain on Saturday, K-State won a Sunday doubleheader by scores of 9-3 and 13-3. The first game saw Ryan Daniel and Thomas Rooke combine to allow three runs on eight hits, including Rooke’s four no-hit innings. The series finale was all K-State as the Cats scored eight times in the fourth en route to a seven-inning run-rule victory.
GET THE BALL TO ALLEN Junior closer James Allen has been one of the toughest relief pitchers in the country this season as he is tie for the national lead with 14 saves this season. Allen recorded the save in all three games against Texas Tech last weekend, while he also preserved Monday’s 5-4 win over Cal State Bakersfield. Allen, whose save in the series finale against Texas Tech gave both the single-season and career records at Kansas State, became the first Wildcat pitcher with three saves in a series in the Big 12 era, while he was the first in the conference to do so since 2009. For his efforts against the Red Raiders, Allen was named the Big 12 Co-Pitcher of the Week for the first time in his career.
Allen, a member of the midseason watch list for the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Award, is 2-1 with a 0.61 ERA this year, and he has earned a win or a save in 10 of his last 12 outings. His best outing of the year was when he worked five perfect innings with 10 strikeouts, the most by a Wildcat reliever since 1986, against Western Illinois.
Outside of a game against Texas when he uncharacteristically walked five batters that led to two runs, Allen has been dominant. In his other 20 appearances combined, the junior has not allowed an earned run and has surrendered just 13 hits and a walk with 33 strikeouts in 28.1 innings.
CARDIAC CATS Kansas State has been involved in many close games this season as 21 of its 41 games have been decided by one or two runs, including 17 one-run contests in which the Wildcats are 8-9. K-State had been on the losing end of plenty of one-run games earlier in the season, dropping nine of its first 14. Since that point, the Cats have won three-straight one-run games, including a pair last weekend against Texas Tech and one on Monday at Cal State Bakersfield. 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.