CORVALLIS, Ore. - Fresh off a 3-0 showing at the NCAA Manhattan Regional, Kansas State travels to Corvallis, Ore., to take on Oregon State for the right to advance to the College World Series in a best-of-three series, Saturday through Monday, at Goss Stadium. The Wildcats are making their first-ever Super Regional appearance, while the Beavers are looking to make their first appearance in the College World Series since winning back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007. The Corvallis Super Regional gets underway with a 6 p.m. (CT) contest Saturday evening before a 9 p.m. (CT) game Sunday night. If necessary, the final game will be played Monday night at 6 p.m. (CT).
All three games against the Beavers can be seen nationally on ESPNU with Joe Davis handling play-by-play duties, while Jay Walker and former Major Leaguer Alex Cora will serve as color analysts. The series can also be heard on the K-State Sports Network with Wyatt Thompson, Brian Smoller and Matt Walters on the call, while free live audio is also available at www.k-statesports.com. In addition, K-StateHD.TV will have a behind-the-scenes look at the Wildcats with daily features at k-statesports.com.
K-STATE AT A GLANCE Kansas State, which set the school record for victories with its regional-clinching victory over Arkansas, enters the series at Oregon State with a 44-17 record. After winning its first Big 12 regular-season title with a 16-8 mark in league action, K-State jumped out of the gate early in game one of the NCAA Manhattan Regional by putting up nine first-inning runs against Wichita State en route to a 20-11 victory. After topping Bryant, 7-1, on Saturday, K-State found itself in a 3-0 hole against Arkansas after one inning. The Wildcats battled back with two in the fourth and two more in the seven - the latter two runs coming on wild pitches - while the bullpen tossed 7.1 scoreless innings en route to a 4-3 win.
Thanks to 34 hits over the three games, K-State, one of the best offensive teams in the nation, saw its average improve to .324 to rank second nationally. The Wildcats have produced a school-record 678 hits this season to rank eighth in the nation in that department. K-State, which leads the Big 12 in batting average by 39 points, has six hitters ranking in the top 10 of the conference in average, including five All-Big 12 First Team honorees in Austin Fisher (.363; 4th), Big 12 Player of the Year Ross Kivett (.363; 5th), Shane Conlon (.350; 6th), Tanner Witt (.336; 7th) and Big 12 Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year Jared King (.327; t9th). RJ Santigate is also tied for ninth at .327. Including the batting average rankings, K-State leads the Big 12 in nine team offensive categories, while the Wildcats hold 47 individual offensive top-10 rankings.
K-State is expected to start senior left-hander Joe Flattery on Saturday and is undecided on starting pitchers for Sunday and Monday. Flattery, who holds a 5-4 record and a 3.87 ERA, is coming off a winning effort in the Manhattan Regional against No. 3-seed Bryant. The Fort Dodge, Iowa, product allowed just one run over five innings with a walk and three strikeouts. That came on the heels of an impressive performance in the final regular-season series against No. 19 Oklahoma when he tossed 5.1 scoreless frames, allowing only three hits and striking out four.
The Wildcat bullpen is anchored by right-handers Jake Matthys and Nate Williams. Matthys, the Big 12 Freshman of the year, is 8-1 with a 1.96 ERA and nine saves, including two in the Manhattan Regional. Williams, a former starter, has been outstanding as the set-up man, allowing only one run over his last 10 outings. DID YOU KNOW • K-State captured its first conference regular-season title in 80 years and has reached a Super Regional for the first time in school history. • Kansas State leads the Big 12 in nine offensive categories, including batting average (.324), hits (678) and runs (399). • Second baseman Ross Kivett became K-State’s third-ever conference player of the year award winner, joining Big Eight Player of the Year Craig Wilson (1992) and Big 12 Player of the Year Nick Martini (2010). • Head coach Brad Hill earned his second Big 12 Coach of the Year designation (2009) after guiding the Wildcats to their second-highest overall win total and the most conference victories in school history. The Cats have since broke the school record for wins. • Relief pitcher Gerardo Esquivel has tossed 6.2 scoreless innings in his career in NCAA Tournament games.
A YEAR OF FIRSTS The 2013 season has turned into a year of first for a program on the upswing. Kansas State claimed its first-ever Big 12 Championship and first conference championship in 80 years with a series-opening win over No. 19 Oklahoma during the final regular-season weekend. The Wildcats, which won the Missouri Valley Conference in 1928 and the Big Six Conference in both 1930 and 1933, became the first school in conference history to place seventh or lower in the Big 12 Preseason Coaches’ Poll and win the league, while they tied for the biggest jump in terms of Big 12 finish from one year to the next.
After earning bids to NCAA Regionals in 2009-11 - its first three in program history - K-State earned a regional host site for the first time in program history this year and rode the home-field advantage to claim its first-ever berth into a Super Regional. HIGH-OCTANE OFFENSE K-State is having one of its better years at the plate in terms of both batting average and total hits. The Wildcats rank second nationally in batting average at .324, and even more impressive is the fact that K-State does not have an individual ranked in the top 75 nationally as eight of the nine everyday starters are hitting between .312 and .363. K-State’s average is also 39 points better than any other Big 12 team.
The Wildcats rank eighth nationally with a school-record setting 678 hits, while they lead the Big 12 by 74 in that department. The Wildcats have tallied at least 10 hits in 41 games this year, going 32-9 in those contests.
RECORD SETTERS In addition to its school records for wins and hits, this year’s Kansas State offense has also put up high marks in eight other categories. The Wildcats, who rank third in school history in batting average with their best mark since 1997, rank second in school history in both hit-by-pitch (94) and sacrifice flies (38), while they are third in triples (28) and fourth in total bases (928). K-State is also on the cusp of reaching 100 steals for the sixth-straight season as they have 98 this year to tie for ninth in school history.
OREGON STATE AT A GLANCE No. 3 national seed Oregon State went 3-0 in the NCAA Corvallis Regional by picking up wins over No. 4-seed UTSA (5-4), third-seeded UC Santa Barbara (3-2) and No. 2-seed Texas A&M (6-1) in the regional championship Sunday night. The Beavers hold a 48-10 mark on the year entering the Super Regional round, including a 24-6 record in Pac-12 play to win the conference championship by two games over in-state rival Oregon.
Hitting .290 as a team, Oregon State is led by sophomore outfielder Dylan Davis at .349. Davis leads the team in hits (80), doubles (22), triples (3) and RBI (55). Andy Peterson, a junior infielder, is hitting .336 with five doubles and 26 RBI, while sophomore outfielder Michael Conforto paces the squad with nine home runs and is second in RBI with 42.
The Beavers, who rank second in the nation with a team ERA of 2.13, have not announced a starting rotation at the time of this release. However, Oregon State has three solid starters in right-hander Andrew Moore and lefties Matt Boyd and Ben Wetzler. Moore enters the Super Regional with a 13-1 mark and a 1.22 ERA, allowing only 15 earned runs in 111 innings with 23 walks and 61 strikeouts while tossing three complete games. Last week against UC Santa Barbara, the Eugene, Ore., native allowed just two runs (one earned) on five hits with two walks and six strikeouts in eight innings.
Boyd has put together a 10-3 record and a 2.20 ERA with 28 walks and 106 strikeouts in 114.1 innings. The Mercer Island, Wash., product, who also has three complete games, allowed three runs on four hits with four walks and eight strikeouts in 6.2 innings last week against UTSA.
A Clackamas, Ore., product, Wetzler is 8-1 with a 1.98 ERA with 25 walks and 72 strikeouts in 82 innings. The left-hander registered his second complete game of the year last week against Texas A&M in the regional final when he allowed just one run on four hits with four walks and 10 strikeouts.
THE OREGON STATE SERIES K-State and Oregon State are knotted at three games apiece in the series history following a 13-5 victory by the 19th-ranked Beavers on February 26, 2012, in San Diego, Calif. In that contest, Oregon State jumped out to a 6-0 lead and K-State got to within two, but the Beavers countered with six unearned runs in the sixth inning. OSU hit three home runs in the game, including a grand slam by current Beaver Danny Hayes, while then-freshman Michael Conforto had two RBI. K-State was led offensively by current Wildcats Jared King and RJ Santigate as well as Jake Brown and Wade Hinkle with two hits apiece. Left-hander Jared Moore, who started the game, allowed six runs in two innings, while Nate Williams and Jake Doller each tossed a scoreless inning.
Last year’s contest was the first between the two schools since 2000. K-State holds a 45-82 mark all-time against current Pac-12 members but is 12-24 against the league when taking out its record against former conference foe Colorado. The Cats will also be looking to get on the right side of the ledger against the Pac-12 in postseason play as they lost two games to Washington State in the 2010 Fayetteville Regional and fell to Stanford in 2011 in the Fullerton Regional.
PITCHING MOVE PAYING OFF Prior to the series against TCU, Kansas State made a change to its starting rotation as Levi MaVorhis has earned five starts as the team’s No. 1 pitcher, while former starter Nate Williams has worked exclusively out of the bullpen. So far, the returns of that decision have been positive for the entire pitching staff as the Wildcats have held a 3.61 ERA with 60 walks and 97 strikeouts in the last 19 games, going 15-4 during that stretch. The move has especially helped Williams, who has allowed just one earned run in 17.1 innings and is yielding a .164 opponent batting average.
The move has also paid dividends for Joe Flattery. Over the last 19 games, Flattery holds a 3-0 record and a 1.35 ERA, allowing just three earned runs on 21 hits with three walks and 14 strikeouts in 20 innings. Flattery, who began the season as a starter, moved to the bullpen halfway through the year and has been dominant in his last two starts. Against No. 19 Oklahoma on May 18 and No. 30 Bryant last Saturday, Flattery has combined to allow one run on 10 hits with a walk and seven strikeouts in 10.1 innings, earning the win in both games. STOUT BULLPEN Kansas State’s bullpen has been outstanding this season as it holds a 21-4 record and a 3.36 ERA. The 21 victories by the relievers this year are the most under head coach Brad Hill - five more than the 2011 squad - while the winning percentage of .840 is by far the best in the last 10 years as it is 158 points better than the 2007 and 2010 clubs that held a .682 winning percentage (15-7).
The Wildcat bullpen was one of the main reasons K-State was able to advance to its first-ever Super Regional as it did not allow an earned run over the final two games. No. 30 Bryant scored a first-inning run last Saturday before Nate Williams and Jake Matthys combined for shutout four innings, allowing one hit and two walks with three strikeouts. The next day against 12th-ranked Arkansas, Gerardo Esquivel teamed with Williams and Matthys for 7.1 shutout innings to give K-State the regional title.
SOLID SOPHOMORE SEASON Austin Fisher has taken a leap from his freshman season as he leads the team in batting average at .363, while he paced the Big 12 with a conference-only batting average of .412. Fisher, who sat out the final two regular-season games, went hitless in his only at-bat in the Big 12 Championship to see a career-long 18-game hitting streak come to an end. However, Fisher made up for it last week in the NCAA Manhattan Regional by going 5-for-10 with two doubles, two walks, three RBI and four runs scored. The Lenexa, Kan., product now has 20 doubles this year to tie for fourth in school history.
Fisher is the lone player from the Big 12 and one of 14 nationally named to the Brooks Wallace Award watch list, which honors the nation’s top shortstop, while he was also named a semifinalist for the Gregg Olsen Breakout Player of the Year award. He has provided game-changing hits throughout the entire season as he is second on the team in two-out RBI (17) and is second in game-winning RBI in the fifth inning or later. BANNER YEAR Setting the tone for the Wildcat offense as the leadoff hitter, 2013 Big 12 Player of the Year Ross Kivett has had a career season to coincide with K-State’s best year in school history. The junior sits in the top 10 of six single-season offensive categories, including the record for at-bats (248), a third-place mark in singles (70) and a fourth-place ranking in hits (90). The Broadview Heights, Ohio, product is also seventh in stolen bases (26), while he will undoubtedly break the single-season school record for both games played and games started this weekend. A FLAIR FOR THE DRAMATIC Ross Kivett has come through time and time again in crucial situations for K-State throughout his career. Kivett’s two-run triple into the right-field corner in the opener at Texas was his sixth-career game-winning hit in the eighth inning or later. It also marked his second game-winning two-run triple as he began the 2012 season with a shot into the right-center field gap as K-State won at CSU Bakersfield, 7-5, in 11 innings. Kivett’s clutch hitting began during his freshman season of 2011 when he hit a walk-off single against Kansas before a game-winning single five days later vs. No. 12 Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship. In addition, Kivett has a team-leading 18 two-out RBI this year and 36 in his career. UNPHASED FRESHMAN Freshman right-hander Jake Matthys, the 2013 Big 12 Freshman of the Year, has been nothing short of spectacular out of the Wildcat bullpen this season. The Spring Lake Park, Minn., product holds an 8-1 record and a 1.96 ERA with nine saves in a school-record setting 32 relief appearances. His eighth victory, which came when K-State clinched its first regular-season conference title in 80 years, broke the K-State freshman record for wins, are the most by a K-State relief pitcher in the Big 12 era and are tied for eighth in a single season in school history. Matthys tied the school’s freshman record for saves the next day against Oklahoma and now has nine this year, three more than any freshman in school history and tied for fifth overall.
Recently named a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball, Matthys currently holds a 1.96 ERA to rank eighth in school history. He has continually performed well in pressure situations as he has allowed just three of his 30 inherited runners to score (.097) thanks to the fact that he has retired 24 of his 32 first-batters faced (.750). TRIPLING AT A TORRID PACE K-State has hit a Big 12-leading 28 triples this season, a mark that ranks third in school history and is the most since the 1997 squad had 30. Eight Wildcats have two or more triples this year, led by Mitch Meyer with five. Ross Kivett, who has 10 career triples to tie for 10th in school history, has four this season thanks to three over a two-game stretch at Creighton and Texas. His two-triple performance in Omaha was the first by a Wildcat since Josh Cavender against Howard on April 15, 2001. IT’S NOT HOW YOU START... As the adage says, “It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.” K-State has proven that saying to be true so far this season as opponents have scored the game’s first run in over a third of the Wildcats’ 44 wins, going 19-9 (.679) in those contests. In head coach Brad Hill’s 10 years in Manhattan, K-State has been .500 or better just twice when its opponent scores first as the 2009 squad went 18-10 (.643) and the 2010 team was 13-13 (.500). Since 2004, Kansas State has gone 123-160 (.435) when its opponent scores first, including a 71-70 (.504) mark since 2009.
YEAR OF THE WILDCAT The baseball program is capping a great athletic season for Kansas State in 2012-13 as it won Big 12 Championships in football and men’s basketball prior to the first conference championship in baseball in 80 years. K-State is one of just four schools in the BCS era to win conference championships in all three sports, joining Stanford (1999-2000), Texas (2005-06) and Louisville (2012-13). In addition, Bill Snyder, Bruce Weber and Brad Hill each won Big 12 Coach of the Year honors in their respective sports, marking the first time in Big 12 history one school had the coach of the year in football, men’s basketball and baseball in the same academic year.