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Baseball Opens Season in Shreveport


GO WILDCATS
GO WILDCATS

GO WILDCATS

Games 1-4
Kansas State (0-0) vs. Penn State (0-0)
Feb. 16 4 p.m.
Feb. 17 4 p.m.

Kansas State (0-0) at Centenary (3-4)
Feb. 17 1 p.m.
Feb. 18 1 p.m.

Sheehee Stadium (1,400)
Shreveport, La.

Radio:
None

Internet:
Live stats of all four games will be available at
k-statesports.com

Series:
KSU vs. Penn State: 1-1 all-time; 1-1 at neutral site
KSU vs. Centenary: 2-0 all-time; 2-0 on the road

Watch For: KSU Starting Pitching
K-State’s weekend starters of Hutt, Bayuk, Hornbeck and Murray combined to walk just 66 batters in 223.1 combined innings last season, a 2.6 walks-per-nine innings mark.

Kansas State will open its 107th season of baseball February 16 in Shreveport, La., as the Wildcats face Penn State and Centenary at Sheehee Stadium on the campus of Centenary College. The Wildcats will face Penn State Friday at 4 p.m. and Saturday at 4 p.m. while squaring off with the home-standing Gents on Saturday at 1 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m. K-State and Penn State will be opening their respective seasons in Shreveport, while Kansas State will be making its fourth trip in four seasons to the state of Louisiana. K-State played at Centenary in 2004, while making trips to Northwestern State in 2005 and Louisiana-Lafayette last season. The state has treated K-State very well as in those three previous trips, the Wildcats have accumulated a 7-1 overall record. The Wildcats hold a 2-0 advantage in the series with Centenary with both wins coming at Sheehee Stadium, a 6-2 win in 2001 and an 11-9 triumph in 2004. The Cats are 1-1 all-time against the Nittany Lions, as the two teams split a pair of games in College Station, Texas, in 1994. The Wildcats enter the season with an all-time record of 1,449-1,509-10 and are 87-75-2 under fourth-year head coach Brad Hill. K-State returns 17 lettermen from last season’s squad and seven total pitchers. Five position starters are back and two of the three weekend starting pitchers return for the 2007 campaign. Starters Brad Hutt and Chase Bayuk give the Wildcats Big 12 game experience, while the arms of Ben Hornbeck, Justin Murray, Daniel Edwards and Trevor Hurley should provide the Wildcats with both depth and experience on the mound early in the year.

Noteworthy

Kansas State is 65-42 all-time in season-openers, including a 1-2 mark under Brad Hill.
Kansas State is 7-1 over the last three seasons in games played in the state of Louisiana.
Since 2004, Kansas State is 67-16 in non-conference games and 13-9 in the month of February.
Under Brad Hill, Kansas State is 52-29 when its starting pitching goes six-plus innings.
The Wildcats also are 68-8 under Hill when out-hitting their opponent.
The Cats are also 61-19-1 under Hill when recording 10 or more hits.
Over the last three seasons, K-State is 76-5 when leading after seven innings and 57-21-2 when scoring first.
IF Drew Biery is riding a team-best five-game hitting streak and was 11-for-19 with 14 RBI over that stretch.
Shortstop Eli Rumler heads into the season ranked second in K-State history in career hit-by-pitches with 22.
Defensively, Rumler also ranks eighth in school history with 286 career assists.
With his next start, Rumler will have made 100 career starts on the infield.
K-State’s projected weekend starting rotation was a combined 18-7 with a 3.46 ERA over 223.1 innings in 06.
K-State pitchers collected a school-best 2.3 walks-per-nine-inning mark last season.
Pitcher Chase Bayuk was 2-0 with a 3.04 ERA over his last five starts of the 2006 season.
Five of Brad Hutt’s seven wins on the mound last season came against NCAA Regional participants.
In 06, Hutt and Bayuk became just the 16th and 17th players in KSU history to win seven games in a season.
K-State’s 2007 roster boasts just two seniors, eight juniors, 11 sophomores and 13 total freshmen (nine true).
The Wildcats have 14 players from the state of Texas, the most of any state, followed by eight Kansans.


Scouting Penn State
Penn State, like K-State, will open its 2007 season this weekend in Shreveport. The Nittany Lions return six starters and 18 total lettermen from last season’s 20-36 squad. Penn State is led by returning middle infielders Matt Cavagnaro and Scott Gafney and outfielder Brian Ernst. Ernst is one of the Nittany Lions’ leading hitters from a year ago after hitting .305 as the squad’s right fielder . On the mound, senior Craig Clark and Mark Wyner return after holding down two of the three weekend spots last season. The duo combined for 149 strikeouts last season in 170-plus innings.

Scouting Centenary
Centenary opened the season with three straight losses at home to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi but then rebounded last weekend with a sweep of Jackson State. The Gents then dropped a 5-4 decision at Northwestern State on Tuesday. All but one of the Gents games to date have been inside the friendly confines of Sheehee Stadium in Shreveport. The Gents have been lead offensively so far by Cameron Penny, who has notched 12 hits in 29 at-bats for a .414 average through seven games. Matt Webb is close behind at .400 and also has the team’s lone homer in the early goings. As a team, Centenary is hitting .281 while the pitching staff has accumulated a 4.21 ERA with 37 strikeouts and 19 walks through 62.0 innings. Three pitchers have earned wins so far as Brandon Fulenchek leads the group with a 2.77 ERA through two starts and 13.0 innings.

Youth Is Served
Kansas State will take the field in 2007 with one of the youngest teams in the Big 12 Conference. With 34 players on the roster, Kansas State has 13 freshmen and 11 sophomores to give them 24 total underclassmen. Nebraska and Baylor are the only two teams in the league that are comparable with 26 and 25, respectively. In terms of experience, the Wildcats boast two seniors, which are the fewest of any Big 12 team, and eight juniors to total 10 upperclassmen, which are the fewest in the Big 12 Conference.

Pitcher Perfect
Kansas State has made tremendous strides on the mound under Hill and pitching coach Sean McCann as the Wildcats have set new single-season K-State records in team ERA and fewest walks per nine innings in each of the last two seasons. The Cats return two weekend starters who each won seven games in juniors Brad Hutt and Chase Bayuk. Sophomore Ben Hornbeck, who was a Louisville Slugger Freshman All-American in 2006 as a reliever, is most likely to take over as the third weekend starter for the Wildcats. Sophomore Justin Murray also returns in 2007 after a solid freshman season in which he was 1-0 with a 3.86 ERA and could potentially work into a starting role for the Cats as well as continue to be stellar in long relief. Junior Daniel Edwards is expected to take over the closing role in 2007 after a 1-1 record in 18 appearances in 2006. Others who will provide depth on the mound in 2007 will include sophomore Trevor Hurley, perhaps the Cats’ hardest thrower, sophomore Todd Vogel, who could be a mid-week starter or middle reliever, redshirt freshman A.J. Morris and newcomers Scott Bachman, Austin Presley, Brock Floro, Tyler Ruch and Paul McCoy.

Dynamic Duo
With so many new and young faces mixed in at several positions, Kansas State will benefit from the return of its double-play combination of Eli Rumler/Drew Biery at shortstop and Brett Scott/Eddie Vasquez and second base. The four players combined for 114 starts and 41 double plays.

Super Sophs
The Wildcats head into the 2007 season with a roster that is heavy on sophomores as 11 players enter their second season of competition. Of those 11 players, nine made starts last season as true freshmen and one more saw time as a relief pitcher (Trevor Hurley), while most of those players will be counted on as starters this season. Catcher Rob Vaughn, third baseman Nate Tenbrink, pitchers Ben Hornbeck and Justin Murray, infielder Drew Biery, and outfielders Byron Wiley, Tyler Link and Jordan Cruz should all be key cogs in 2007.

Friday Night Lights
Junior right-hander Brad Hutt settled in nicely as the Wildcats’ Friday night starter last season and finished the season 7-4 with a 4.01 ERA, which included wins over Wichita State, Nebraska, Missouri, Baylor and Oklahoma. The Papillion, Neb., native was a two-time Big 12 Pitcher of the Week selection after big wins over Oklahoma and Baylor. But, more impressively, Hutt’s makeup and calmness on the mound is his best attribute. Five of Hutt’s seven wins came against teams that advanced to NCAA Regional play, while four of those wins came against teams that were ranked in the Top 25 at the time of the game.

Bayuk Back For More
Junior left-hander Chase Bayuk came on strong at the end of the season as one of the Cats’ weekend starters. In fact, Bayuk went 2-0 with a 3.04 ERA over his last five starts of the 2006 season and saw his Wildcats go 2-2-1 over that stretch. Bayuk, and fellow starter Brad Hutt, finished the 2006 season with seven wins, which were the seventh-most in K-State single-season history.

Big Ben
Lefty Ben Hornbeck made an immediate impact on the Wildcat pitching staff as a true freshman and eventually became just the second Wildcat ever to be named a Freshman All-American when Collegiate Baseball honored the Phoenix, Ariz., native in the postseason. Last season, Hornbeck was 3-1 with a 1.24 ERA while appearing in 18 games as a rookie, struck out 35 batters in 29.0 innings with opponents hitting just .212 off the southpaw. Hornbeck did not give up an earned run in 15 of 18 appearances last season while recording multiple strikeouts in 10 outings.

Lord Byron
Offensively, sophomore outfielder Byron Wiley looks to be Kansas State’s top threat after hitting .297 with five homers and 27 RBI as a true freshman. Wiley gives the Wildcats power, speed and athleticism in the middle of the order after coming off a solid 2006 season and a big summer. This past summer, Wiley was named the No. 10 prospect in the Northwoods League by Baseball America.

Drew Delivers
K-State closed the 2006 season on a five-game winning streak and was led offensively over that span by then-true freshman infielder Drew Biery. Biery, who started 18 games and played in 32 at both shortstop and first base, hit .342 with three homers and 22 RBI in his first season as a Wildcat, but exploded during the five-game streak. During the streak, Biery was 11-for-19 (.579) with 14 RBI.

Eli’s Coming
Senior Eli Rumler, one of two seniors on this year’s squad, heads into the 2007 campaign with 99 career starts and is closing in the record books in two more categories. Currently, Rumler is second in career hit-by-pitches with 22 and needs just four more to set the new school record. Defensively, Rumler ranks eighth in career assists with 286 and needs 32 more to move into seventh.

Beef It Up
Kansas State has bulked up its non-conference schedule in 2007 as it prepares for tough three-game stretches in league play down the road. In fact, the Wildcats currently have the 48th-toughest schedule in the country according to Boyd’s World and heads into this weekend’s action with 13 games against teams that are ranked in this week’s Top 25.

Wildcat Baseball on the Tube
Kansas State will have three of its 2007 baseball games air regionally on television as both the Big 12 Conference and the Kansas State Athletic Department announced their baseball television packages. The Big 12 has announced its six-game league package with Fox Sports Net and the May 5 Wildcat game at Kansas was one of the selections. First pitch for the game is set for 3 p.m. at Hoglund Ballpark in Lawrence with the entire Big 12 region gaining television access. K-State also announced two more home games, the March 31 tilt with Texas Tech and the April 3 game against Kansas, will be televised locally on Fox Sports Midwest. The game against Kansas, which is slated as a non-conference game, is set to begin at 7 p.m., while the Saturday game with the Red Raiders is set for a 2 p.m. first pitch at Tointon Stadium.