Kansas State (0-0) at the UTA Invitational
Clay Gould Ballpark (1,250)
at Texas-Arlington (2-2), Thursday, Feb. 16, 5 p.m.
vs. Oral Roberts (3-0), Friday, Feb. 17, 6 p.m.
vs. Illinois State (0-0), Saturday, Feb. 18, 11 a.m.
Probable Pitching Rotation
Brad Hutt, RHP, KSU
Nick Jones, RHP, ORU
Adam Cowart, RHP, KSU
Austin Bridges, LHP, UTA
Chase Bayuk, LHP, KSU
Dan Frega, RHP, ISU
INTERNET: Live stats of all three games will be available at k-statesports.com and utamavs.com.
SERIES: The Wildcats trail in the all-time series with Oral Roberts, 20-34, with the Golden Eagles having won the previous two meetings in 2001, while K-State is 3-2 against Illinois State. The Cats dropped two of three games in Normal back in 1991 and the two teams split a two-game series in Manhattan back in 1990. Against Texas-Arlington, K-State is 3-1, including a 5-4 win last season at the UTA Invitational. All four games in the series with the Mavericks have been played in Arlington, Texas.
RANKINGS: All four teams are not ranked in any of the three major college baseball polls.
COACH BRAD HILL: K-State’s Brad Hill begins his third season in Manhattan after compiling a 56-55 record in his first two seasons. In 11 years, Hill has a career head coaching record of 474-146 record, which includes nine seasons at Central Missouri State and two at Kansas State.
Kansas State will open its 106th season of baseball this weekend at the UTA Invitational... K-State enters the season with an all-time record of 1,418-1,489-8 and is 56-55 under third-year head coach Brad Hill... The Wildcats return five starting position players from a year ago, including four who hit .300 or better in 2005... K-State also returns all three weekend starters, including seven-game winners Adam Cowart and Chase Mitchell, and its closer, Bryan Peterson... Jared Goedert heads into the season riding a five-game hit streak, while Joe Roundy has hit safely in his last four games... Pitcher Chase Mitchell has won four of his past five starts on the mound heading into this season... Sophomore lefty Chase Bayuk is expected to make his first career start on the mound Sunday against Illinois State.
About the Opponents
Oral Roberts heads into the weekend with a 3-0 record after a season-opening sweep of Missouri Southern last weekend. The Golden Eagles pounded out 39 runs on 47 hits with six homers in the three games while limiting Missouri Southern to just two runs on 11 hits in 27 innings. ORU was led offensively by Jake Kahaulelio’s 9-for-5 weekend, while K-State’s expected mound opponent Nick Jones went 7.0 strong innings in his first start of the season to pick up a win. Jones struck out four and walked one while allowing one run on four hits last weekend.
Texas-Arlington started the season with two straight wins over Louisiana Tech before dropping game three of the series and then a mid-week game Tuesday at Baylor. The Mavs took a 4-0 lead into the fifth inning at Baylor Tuesday, but the Bears erupted for 17 runs in the final four innings to take a 17-4 win. UTA is led offensively by Nebraska transfer Adam Moore and Kyle Thomason, who are both hitting .417 heading into the weekend. UTA has hit .270 as a team through four games while registering a 4.98 team ERA.
Illinois State opens its 2006 season this weekend in Arlington under fourth-year head coach Jim Brownlee. The Redbirds return eight starters, six pitchers and 23 letterwinners from last season’s 26-27 team, including Matt Bolt, who hit .323 a year ago, and pitcher Eric Theisen, who finished 6-0 with a 3.00 ERA.
K-State in Season Openers
Entering their 107th season of baseball, the Wildcats are 64-42 all-time in season openers. During the last 12 years, Kansas State is 7-5. In 2000, the Wildcats knocked off Oregon State, 7-6, Doane, 11-3 in 2001, 21-8 in 2002 and Western Illinois, 14-4, in 2003. Then, in Brad Hill’s debut as the Cats’ skipper, K-State fell to Houston in the opening round of the Minute Maid College Classic before falling to Northwestern in Phoenix, Ariz., last season. Both losses came at major league baseball facilities. Hill is 0-2 in openers at Kansas State.
Last Season at the UTA Invitational
K-State will make its second straight appearance at the UTA Invitational as the Wildcats knocked off the host Mavericks, 5-4, and Northwestern, 4-1, while falling, 6-5, to Arkansas State. Adam Cowart went 8.0 strong innings on the mound and senior Terry Blunt was 3-for-4 in the win over Northwestern, while Barrett Rice scored the game-winning run on a wild pitch in the eighth inning of the 5-4 triumph against Texas-Arlington, in which pitchers Mitch Walter and Eric Rollins held the Mavericks in check.
Kansas State’s biggest strength heading into the 2006 season will be the return of all three weekend starters on the mound and the overall depth of the pitching staff. Starters Adam Cowart (7-4, 3.93) and Chase Mitchell (7-6, 4.45) return for their senior seasons after each posting seven wins a year ago, marking the first time two Wildcat pitchers had recorded seven wins in a season since 1985. Sophomore Brad Hutt rounds out the weekend rotation after he compiled a 2-1 record with a 3.16 ERA during the later stages of the 2005 season as a true freshman. K-State also returns its closer from a year ago in Bryan Peterson, who recorded five saves on the season.
New Look Outfield
With the loss of all three outfielders from the 2005 squad, including two guys that are now playing in the professional ranks, the Wildcats will have a revamped outfield in 2006. Senior Barrett Rice, who played third base a year ago, has moved to the outfield and seems to have locked down the spot in left. Rice led the team a year ago with a .348 average with six homers and 27 RBI and probably possesses the strongest arm of the current outfielders. Joe Roundy, a senior who hit 10 homers a year ago, saw time at both designated hitter and in right field, will anchor down the spot in right and could also play center if needed. Freshmen Byron Wiley, an all-state selection from Tomball, Texas, Tyler Link, who led the Wildcats in homers during the fall, Robbie Knight, the Gatorade Nebraska Player of the Year in 2005, and Jordan Cruz, a multi-sport athlete from Hutchinson, will also battle for playing time as true freshmen. Wiley, a powerful left-handed hitter, could play center or right, while Knight has the best speed on the team and could also play center. Cruz had a nice fall offensively and could see time in either right field or at the DH spot.
Kansas State will have the luxury of five returners offensively who played regularly, which includes four players who it .300 or better on the season. Barrett Rice led the way with a .348 average, while Jared Goedert hit at a .341 clip, Brandon Farr at .331 and Cris Tapia at .326. Joe Roundy is the other returner who played every day a year ago and he just missed the .300 mark after hitting .289 with a team-high 10 homers. As a unit, the Wildcats return 47-percent of its home run power from a year ago and 48-percent of its total offense.
Same Faces, New Places
K-State returns nearly 20 players from a year ago, including four regulars who could see time at new positions in 2006. Senior Barrett Rice will move to left field after playing third and first a year ago, junior Jared Goedert will move to third base after playing first and second last season, junior Eli Rumler will move to shortstop permanently after seeing time at second, short and third a year ago, and senior Joe Roundy will move permanently to the outfield after splitting time between the outfield and the DH spot. True freshman Tyler Link opened the fall as a second baseman but could also see time in center after making the switch late in the fall.
K-State signed arguably the school’s best recruiting class this decade in 2005 and several of those true freshmen will have the chance to immediately make an impact. Pitchers Justin Murray (RHP) and Ben Hornbeck (LHP) were very impressive during the fall and should be in the mix during the season, while outfielders Byron Wiley, Tyler Link and Jordan Cruz could also see significant playing time as true freshmen.
Wildcats Ink 10 During Fall Signing Period
Kansas State head baseball coach Brad Hill announced the signing of 10 players to National Letters of Intent to play baseball for the Wildcats beginning in the spring of 2007. The class consists of eight high school players and two junior college players.
2006 Kansas State Baseball Fall Signees
Name Po. Ht. Wt. Hometown (Last School)
Justin Bloxom C 6-2 180 Phoenix, Ariz. (Goldwater HS)
Brock Floro RHP 6-0 160 Atwater, Calif. (Buhach Colony HS)
Jim Lewis RHP 6-0 175 Shawnee, Kan. (Bishop Miege HS)
Paul McCoy OF 5-11 165 Killeen, Texas (Killeen Ellison HS)
J.J. Muse OF 6-1 185 Albuquerque, NM (LaCueva HS)
Nick Phillips RHP 6-0 175 Bartlesville, Okla. (Bartlesville HS)
Austin Presley RHP 6-0 200 Austin, Texas (Westlake HS/Hutchinson CC)
Tyler Ruch LHP 5-9 155 Fountain Hills, Ariz. (Fountain Hills HS)
Ronnie Welty OF/P 6-4 195 Gilbert, Ariz. (Mesquite HS)
Trevor Whipkey RHP 6-2 170 Baxter Springs, Kan. (Coffeyville CC)