MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kansas State, winners of seven of its last nine, will take part in its sixth-straight Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, May 23-27, at Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark in Oklahoma City, Okla. The Wildcats won four of their last six conference games to earn the No. 8 seed and will open play in Division One against top-seeded Baylor on Wednesday at 12:30 p.m. Oklahoma, the No. 4 seed, and Oklahoma State, the No. 5 seed, round out Division One and will open the championship at 9 a.m., on Wednesday morning. The winners of the two games will play at 4 p.m., on Thursday, while the other two teams will face an elimination game on Thursday morning at 9 a.m.
Every game for the Wildcats in the 2012 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship can be heard on the K-State Sports Network with Wyatt Thompson, Brian Smoller and Matt Walters on the call. Also, live action of every game will be streamed on the Big 12 Digital Network at www.big12sports.com, while audio from the webcast will be broadcast on SiriusXM Radio, channels 191 (XM) and 92 (Sirius).
All-session tickets are available for as little as $87 for terrace reserved seating, while box seating is available for $117 and club-level seats are $202. Additionally, a limited number of weekend passes are available starting at $67, and single-session tickets are also on sale. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Oklahoma City RedHawks Box Office at (405) 218-1000 or by visiting www.big12sports.com.
K-STATE AT A GLANCE K-State won its way into the postseason by taking a road series at Texas Tech last weekend, and did so thanks to the pitching of Kayvon Bahramzadeh and Joe Flattery. Bahramzadeh tossed eight innings and received help from his offense with three runs in the first in a 7-5 victory on Thursday. The Wildcats led 7-2 entering the ninth, but Tech rallied for three runs and had the tying run on second base before Nate Williams recorded a strike out and a fly out for his sixth save of the year. On Friday, the Wildcats could only score two runs over the first six innings, but that was all they needed as Flattery tossed a complete game and was one out away from a shutout as K-State punched its ticket to Oklahoma City with a 5-1 victory. Resting many of its starters and starting a freshman on the mound on Saturday, Kansas State fell to Texas Tech in the final game of the series, 8-2.
The Wildcats continue to be led offensively by sophomore Jared King, who won the Big 12 regular-season batting title with a .378 average. His 76 hits and .574 slugging percentage rank second in the conference, while he is also in the top 10 of the league in seven other categories. Wade Hinkle is second on the team and ninth in the conference with a .335 batting average and leads the squad with 10 home runs and 48 RBI. Jon Davis ranks third on the squad at .333 thanks to his .387 average since becoming an everyday play on March 31. Bahramzadeh and Flattery will start the first two games of the championship, while the Wildcats are undecided on starters for the remainder of the event.
DID YOU KNOW • The Wildcat pitching staff reached double digits in strikeouts in eight Big 12 games this year, the most by K-State since the league's first season in 1997. • K-State has turned 55 double plays this season to rank 14th nationally in that department. • The Wildcats also rank in the top 25 of the NCAA in walks (11th), steals (12th) and fielding percentage (21st). • K-State's bullpen tallied a 2.25 ERA in its final six Big 12 games after a 7.93 mark in its first 18 conference games. • Jared King captured the Big 12 regular-season batting title with a .378 average. He became the second Wildcat in the last three years to accomplish the feat. • King leads the Big 12 with 26 multi-hit games this season. • Tanner Witt tied a Big 12 record with six walks on May 5 against Nebraska Omaha.
FINDING A WAY TO THE POSTSEASON Kansas State entered the final two weekends of the season needing to win a pair of series to ensure a spot in the 2012 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship. The Wildcats were able to win the series against in-state rival Kansas and take the first two games at Texas Tech, earning just their third series win in Lubbock in school history. The two victories in Lubbock marked the first road series win of at least three games to close out the regular season since K-State swept a four-game series from Missouri in 1974. The Wildcats had closed out the 2002 and 2011 regular season with split-series wins against KU, but at least one of the wins came in the series-opener in Manhattan. STARTERS' GREAT OUTINGS K-State's starting-pitcher duo of Kayvon Bahramzadeh and Joe Flattery has been a major factor in the Wildcats' late-season run. Over the last two weekends, Bahramzadeh and Flattery have teamed for a 3-1 record and a 1.84 ERA in 29.1 innings of work. Both came up large in last weekend's series win at Texas Tech as Bahramzadeh worked a Big 12 career-best eight innings, allowing two runs on four hits with three strikeouts in his second-straight win.
Trying to get the Wildcats into the Big 12 Championship, all Flattery did was toss Kansas State's first nine-inning complete game since 2009 when he limited the Red Raiders to one run on six hits with a walk and five strikeouts. Flattery, who held a shutout until two outs in the ninth inning, was the first Wildcat to go the distance since A.J. Morris against Rice in the 2009 NCAA Regional. For his efforts, he was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Week. BAYLOR AT A GLANCE Baylor enters the 2012 Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship as the No. 1 seed after amassing a 20-4 record in conference play, while the Bears ended the regular season with a 42-12 overall record. BU led the league in both overall (.312) and conference-only (.317) batting average, while it slugged a Big 12-leading 34 home runs. The Bears are led by Logan Vick and Josh Ludy, who each hit .347. Vick led Baylor with 23 doubles, while Ludy hit a team-leading nine homers and drove in 54 runs.
The Bears will start left-hander Josh Turley against K-State on Wednesday. The junior tallied an 8-0 record and a 1.67 ERA in 13 games this season. Last weekend against Texas, Turley took the win after allowing just two runs in seven innings.
THE BAYLOR SERIES Baylor leads the all-time series against Kansas State, 38-16, but the Wildcats are 3-1 against the Bears in Big 12 Championship play. The Wildcats will be looking to make amends for a sweep at the hands of Baylor earlier this season in Manhattan, a series that featured three close games. In the opener, Josh Ludy hit a two-run single in the seventh to break a 2-2 tie en route to a 5-2 victory. K-State led Saturday's game, 10-4, when rain fell and suspended play until Sunday. The Bears opened up the suspended game by scoring five runs in both the sixth and seventh innings as they won, 14-12. The series finale was also a nail-bitter as K-State held leads to 5-1 and 9-7 before the two teams traded a pair of runs in eighth inning to see the game go into extras tied at 11. Michael Howard broke the tie with a solo homer in the 11th as Baylor won, 12-11.
BULLPEN STEPS UP Not to be outdone by the starters, Kansas State's bullpen has also been a major factor down the stretch as it has tallied a 2.25 ERA over the last six Big 12 games after a 7.93 mark in the first 18 games of league play. A majority of the work has been done by left-hander Jared Moore and right-hander Nate Williams. Moore tossed four shutout innings in the finale against Kansas with a career-high seven strikeouts, which followed a 2.2 scoreless innings by Williams, who picked up his first career win. In the Texas Tech series, Williams recorded the final two outs of Thursday's game to earn his sixth save of the year and break the K-State freshman record.
Both pitchers have been brilliant in their last several relief outings. Moore has not allowed a run in relief since March 25 against Texas, a streak of 10.1 innings over six appearances with 16 strikeouts. Williams has tossed 6.1 shutout innings in his last three games with a win and a save.
K-STATE IS GETTING ON BASE The Wildcats have been one of the best teams in the Big 12 this year in terms of getting on base. K-State is second in the conference in on-base percentage and was 30th nationally entering the week, thanks to a .406 mark over the last nine games. The Cats, who lead the conference and rank 11th nationally in walks, have recorded a team on-base percentage of at least .400 in 26 games this season, going 20-6 in those contests. Also, K-State has recorded five or more walks in 25 games this year and is 4-1 when collecting 10 or more free passes.
K-State has three players in the top 10 of the Big 12 in on-base percentage, led by Wade Hinkle at .481 to rank 10th in school history. The senior also holds a .439 mark in his career, which is six points off K-State's top 10. Jared King is fifth in the Big 12 with a .453 on-base percentage and Tanner Witt is sixth at .447.
PRODUCTION WITH TWO OUTS K-State has been productive late in innings as nearly 40-percent of its RBI (118-of-299) have come with two outs. K-State produced five two-out RBI in its 7-5 win at Texas Tech on Thursday and two in its 5-1 victory on Friday. Individually, Wade Hinkle leads the way with 24, which is the most by a Wildcat since Justin Bloxom had 27 in 2009. He is also the active career leader for the Wildcats with 37, while Mike Kindel has 35 and Jared King has 34.
KING HEATING BACK UP Sophomore outfielder Jared King hit the .400 mark on the season following a 3-for-4 outing against Missouri State on April 11, but in his nine games following that performance he hit just .235 with two extra-base hits and seven RBI to see his average fall to .364. Trying to break out of the slump, King has reversed the trend over the last 14 games as he is hitting .418 with five doubles, one triple, three home runs and 19 RBI to see his average climb to a Big 12-best .378. Additionally, King has tallied eight multi-hit games, five multi-RBI games, a .709 slugging percentage and a .485 on-base percentage during that span.
HINKLE HITS FOR POWER, SHOWS DISCIPLINE Much like King, senior Wade Hinkle has also been on fire lately as, after seeing his average dip to .311 on May 1, he has hit .457 over the last nine games with two homers and 11 RBI. Thanks to his 4-for-8 performance with a double and a home run against Kansas, Hinkle earned the first Big 12 Player of the Week honor in his career. Hinkle, who is one of just three players in the conference with 10 or more home runs, is two away from entering the school's single-season top 10. Also, he the only player in the Big 12 this season to rank in the top five in both home runs and walks, while he could become just the third player since 2008 to accomplish the feat.
SENIOR LEADER ON THE MOUND Senior right-hander Kayvon Bahramzadeh is in the midst of his best season as a Wildcat as he has tallied a career-best seven wins in his 10 decisions and holds a 4.32 ERA. However, where Bahramzadeh has improved the most is in his strikeout total as he has 75 this season to rank ninth in the Big 12. The Tucson, Ariz., product has nearly doubled his previous career high of 40 strikeouts in 2010 thanks to the fact that he has struck out at least five batters in five of his last six Big 12 starts, a stretch that began with a career-best 11 fanned batters at No. 24 Oklahoma.
Bahramzadeh ranks highly in K-State's career record book as he is fifth in games started (35) and eighth in career strikeouts (181). Also, if Bahramzadeh earns one more win, he will move into Kansas State's top 10 for career wins.