/// PROBABLE STARTERS /// K-State - RHP Jake Doller 2-2, 1.85 ERA, 24.1 IP, 10 BB, 23 K OMA - LHP Steven Schoonover 1-1, 5.25 ERA, 12.0 IP, 1 BB, 4 K
SERIES PROMOTIONS Tuesday: Pregame Tailgate; Team/Camper Night SERIES INFORMATION NEBRASKA at K-STATE Overall: Nebraska leads, 166-107 In Manhattan: Nebraska leads, 75-68 Last Meeting: K-State won, 10-8, March 26, in Manhattan, Kan.
OMAHA at K-STATE Overall: K-State leads, 3-0 Last Season: K-State swept a three-game series, 9-4, 14-5 and 10-2, May 4-6, in Manhattan, Kan.
MANHATTAN, Kan. - Following a quick three-game road trip, Kansas State is back at home for the next six games beginning with a pair of 6:30 p.m., tilts against Nebraska and Omaha, Tuesday and Wednesday, at Tointon Family Stadium. The Wildcats are looking to win the season series against Nebraska for the first time since 2010, while the contest against the Mavericks is the first of two-straight Wednesday games between the two teams. Both games will be shown to a national audience on Fox College Sports, while Tuesday’s contest against NU will also be shown regionally on Fox Sports Midwest. Brian Smoller (play-by-play) and Mike Clark (analyst) will have the call for K-StateHD.TV on Fox Sports. Tuesday’s game will be broadcast across the K-State Sports Network, while the contest on Wednesday can be heard exclusively online at both www.k-statesports.com and www.1350kman.com.
A pregame tailgate will be held in the southwest lawn area of Tointon Family Stadium beginning at 5:30 p.m., on Tuesday. Pregame tailgates feature live music and various food and beverage items. Tuesday is also a Team/Camper Night. Fans can purchase tickets online at www.k-statesports.com/tickets, by phone at 1-800-221-CATS or at the stadium box office beginning one hour prior to first pitch.
K-STATE AT A GLANCE Sitting at 18-10 at the halfway point in the regular season, Kansas State is looking to bounce back from a series loss at Baylor after winning the first game of the series, 3-2, Thursday night. Leading 8-6 through seven innings on Friday, Baylor hit a two-run homer to tie the game in the eighth inning before the teams went scoreless until the 13th when another Bear two-run homer won the game, 10-8. In Saturday’s rubber match, K-State jumped ahead, 3-0, before BU scored three in both the fourth and sixth innings and one more in the eighth. The eighth-inning run proved to be pivotal as the Wildcats scored three times in the ninth to pull within one at 7-6 and had the tying run on second base before a strikeout ended the game.
The Wildcats, who are receiving votes in the USA TODAY Sports Coaches’ Top 25 for the second-straight week, continue to lead the Big 12 by a wide margin in several offensive statistics. K-State is hitting .321 as a team, 23 points better than second-place West Virginia, while the Wildcats are also atop of the conference in on-base percentage (.406), slugging percentage (.442), runs (183), hits (305) and triples (15).
After raising his average 86 points since March 8, Ross Kivett leads Kansas State and ranks third in the Big 12 with a .398 batting average. The junior has 10 multi-hit games in his last 15 contests, including each of his last four games. The second baseman had a three-hit, five-RBI contest last week against Nebraska and followed that with two-hit games throughout the entire Baylor series. He leads the team with nine doubles and is second on the squad with 19 RBI.
Catcher Blair DeBord has also swung a hot bat recently as he is second on the team and eighth in the Big 12 at .358, a mark that has raised 114 points since March 15. He tied his career high in hits with three in K-State’s win Thursday at Baylor, while he has four multi-hit games in his last six outings. Third baseman RJ Santigate is hitting a shade below .350 at .349 with a team-leading 20 RBI. The junior is coming off a two-hit, two-RBI performance at Baylor on Saturday.
In addition to DeBord and Santigate, senior outfielder Tanner Witt has also been on a tear lately, hitting .435 (20-for-46) over his last 11 games to raise hit batting average 75 points to its current .325 mark. Witt tied his career high with three hits in each of the last two games, while he drove in two runs on Friday. Witt is also the Big 12 leader with six sacrifice flies.
Kansas State will use its regular midweek starting pitchers but will change up the order as freshman right-hander Blake McFadden will get the nod on Tuesday against Nebraska and senior right-hander Jake Doller will throw against Omaha. McFadden, a highly-touted recruit from the state of Missouri, is 1-1 with a 4.50 ERA in seven appearances, including three starts, and he will be making his first start since March 20 against Minnesota. On Friday at Baylor, McFadden came out of the bullpen after just one out in the bottom of the first inning and proceeded to toss four scoreless frames before allowing two runs in the fifth. Doller, who is 2-2 with a 1.85 ERA this season, has been great as a starter as he is 2-1 with a 0.84 ERA in four starts. Doller is coming off a loss as a reliever in Friday’s 13-inning contest after allowing a two-run homer. DID YOU KNOW • Kansas State is 70-12 in home non-conference games since 2009. • The Wildcats are 10-5 this year in games where their opponent scores first. • Kansas State leads the Big 12 in six offensive categories, including batting average (.321), hits (305) and runs (183). • K-State entered last week ranked in the top 25 nationally in batting average (7th), triples (12th), steals, (12th), fewest walks allowed per nine innings (19th), on-base percentage (20th) and hits (22nd). • The Wildcats are receiving votes in the USA Today Coaches’ Poll for a second-straight week. Last week’s consideration was the first in any poll since prior to the 2012 season (Collegiate Baseball and NCBWA) and the first from the coaches since April 25, 2011.
TOUGH AGAINST NON-CON Kansas State has continued its outstanding recent success in non-conference games this season as, thanks to a 15-7 mark against non-league competition, the Wildcats are currently 220-86 (.719) under head coach Brad Hill, including a 111-48 (.698) mark over the last four-plus seasons. In regular season non-conference games, the Cats have been even tougher as they are 209-70 (.749) over the last nine-plus years and 103-37 (.736) from 2009-13.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE Kansas State is looking to turn Tointon Family Stadium into a home field advantage yet again this year. The Wildcats, who are 14-5 at home over the first 19 games of 2013, have been difficult to defeat on their home turf over the last few years as they have won at least 20 home games in five of the last eight seasons. K-State is 99-38 (.723) at home over the last four-plus years, while its record is even more impressive in non conference games as the Cats are 70-12 (.854) since 2009 in those contests. NEBRASKA AT A GLANCE Nebraska is riding high after a three-game sweep of Northwestern in Lincoln last weekend. The Huskers won a 16-inning affair, 10-9, on Friday before wins of 8-5 and 8-6 on Saturday and Sunday respectively. NU, which is 11-15 overall, is second in the Big Ten with a 5-1 conference record.
The Huskers are hitting .271 as a team, an average that has raised 20 points over the last four games. Senior outfielder Chad Christensen leads the squad in batting average (.365), triples (2) and home runs (2). Sophomore Pat Kelly is second on the team with a .336 average and paces Nebraska with five doubles, while the infielder has driven in 13 runs. Kelly is coming off two-straight four-hit performance on Saturday and Sunday - including a four-RBI game on Sunday - after a 0-for-9 showing in Friday’s extra-inning game. The final Husker hitting over .300, Austin Darby is tied for team-high honors with Christensen in homers, while he leads the team with 16 RBI.
Left-hander Tyler King is slated to start Tuesday’s game on the mound for Nebraska. The junior will be making his first start of the season and his eighth outing of 2013, holding a 1-0 record and an 11.37 ERA. King has allowed eight runs on nine hits with four walks and four strikeouts in 6.1 innings. King was the second of eight pitchers used by Nebraska in last Tuesday’s game at K-State, working 0.2 innings with a strikeout. He also pitched a scoreless inning, working around two hits, on Saturday.
Senior right-hander Dylan Vogt continues to lead the Husker bullpen as he is 1-2 with a 2.01 ERA and four saves. Vogt pitched the final two innings of Sunday’s game against Northwestern, allowing a pair of unearned runs and striking out two.
OMAHA AT A GLANCE Omaha is 6-14 through its first 20 games but will enter Wednesday’s game on a high note after defeating cross-town rival Creighton, 4-2, Sunday at TD Ameritrade Park. Playing their first season in The Summit League, the Mavericks begin conference play this weekend with a Friday doubleheader against Fort Wayne and a Sunday twin bill against Oakland, a team K-State swept earlier this season.
Hitting .278 as a team, Omaha is paced by sophomore Alex Mortensen’s .394 batting average. The Omaha product also leads the team with nine doubles and has one of the Mavericks’ two homers. Freshman infielder Clayton Taylor is second on the team at .352 and has seven doubles. Connor Messinger and Cole Gruber are tied for the team lead in RBI with 11 apiece.
The Mavericks are expected to start left-hander Steven Schoonover on Wednesday. The junior, who is 1-1 with a 5.25 ERA, will be making his first start of the year and his fifth appearance overall as he has allowed nine runs (seven earned) on 17 hits with a walk and four strikeouts in 12 innings. Junior right-hander Josh Bullock is the top bullpen arm for Omaha, going 0-1 with a 3.46 ERA and four saves.
THE NEBRASKA SERIES Following Kansas State’s 10-8 victory last Tuesday, Nebraska now leads the all-time series 166-107, including a 75-68 mark in Manhattan. The Wildcats are looking for their first series victory over the Huskers since 2010 when K-State swept Nebraska in Lincoln. Last week’s contest was highlighted by Ross Kivett’s three-hit, five-RBI performance. After fouling out in his first at-bat of the game, Kivett drove in runs in each of his next four plate appearances. He recorded a RBI single in the second inning, a sacrifice fly in the fourth, a run-scoring double in the sixth and capped his evening with a two-run single in the seventh that gave K-State a 10-6 lead. Freshman right-hander Levi MaVorhis picked up the win after tossing two innings, allowing a run and striking out three.
THE OMAHA SERIES K-State swept last year’s first-ever series against Omaha as the Wildcats lead the all-time series, 3-0. Wednesday’s game marks the first of two games between the teams this season as Kansas State will make the return trip to Omaha next Wednesday. Kansas State holds 33-2 record all-time against teams from The Summit League, a conference Omaha joined prior to this season.
Kansas State’s top returning hitter against the Mavericks is Jared King, who went 7-for-12 with two doubles, a triple, one home run and 11 RBI en route to Big 12 Player of the Week honors. Third baseman RJ Santigate went 6-for-12 with two doubles and three RBI on the series. THE HITS KEEP ON COMING After hitting only .281 as a team last season, K-State has been red hot at the plate through the first half of 2013. The Wildcats, who entered last weekend ranked sixth nationally with a .323 batting average, lead the Big 12 by 23 points thanks to 20 games with 10 or more hits. Kansas State’s current .321 batting average through the first 28 games is its highest mark since college baseball adopted BBCOR bats as the Wildcats were hitting .291 at this point last season and .268 halfway through the 2011 campaign. K-State only had 30 games with 10 or more hits over the 58-game 2012 season and 28 in 61 games during 2011. Even more impressive is the fact that the Wildcats entered last weekend without an individual ranked in the top 100 nationally in batting average despite sitting in the top 10 as a team.
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 half of the Wildcats’ 18 wins. Kansas State, which is 10-5 in games where its opponent scores first, has already surpassed last year’s win total 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 114-156 (.422) when its opponent scores first, including a 62-66 (.484) mark since 2009.
TRIPLING AT A TORRID PACE Thanks to four triples in four games last week, Kansas State has already registered a Big 12-leading 15 three-baggers this season and is on pace for 30 during the regular season, a mark that would tie for second in school history. The 15 triples at the halfway point of the year are by far the most at this point in a season in the last 10 years, six more than the 2005 squad’s nine.
KIVETT CATCHING FIRE Junior second baseman Ross Kivett is in the midst of perhaps his best stretch of games offensively as a Wildcat. The Broadview Heights, Ohio, product leads Kansas State with a .398 batting average to rank third in the Big 12. His average has skyrocketed over the last 15 games as he has gained 86 points since March 8 thanks to 10 multi-hit games during that span, including a season-high tying three hits on four occasions. Kivett is currently riding a streak of four-straight multi-hit games, while he has seven in the last eight games. Last week against Nebraska, Kivett drove in a career-high five RBI on 3-of-4 hitting, while he had two-hit contests in all three games at Baylor. In addition to his performance at the plate, Kivett has also been true on his last 62 fielding chances dating back to March 9 against Cal Poly.
THROWN INTO THE FIRE Right-handers Jake Matthys and Levi MaVorhis have been outstanding out of the bullpen for K-State through the first half of their freshmen seasons. Both hurlers are 3-0, while Matthys has two saves, and the duo has combined for a 1.89 ERA despite being inserted into the game in pressure situations. MaVorhis and Matthys have inherited 21 runners between the two, allowing only four to score.
Matthys was an integral part to the Wildcats’ series win over West Virginia as he tossed three perfect innings with six strikeouts. In the series finale, Matthys came into the game with a runner on third base and no outs in the eighth inning as K-State led, 4-3, and he recorded a short fly ball, a line out and a strikeout to preserve the one-run lead before a perfect ninth inning. MaVorhis came into last Thursday’s game at Baylor in a similar situation as he faced runners on the corners and no outs in a 2-2 game before collecting two strikeouts and a ground out to keep the game tied.
FOUR WILDCATS START 2013 IN TRIPLE A With the professional baseball season beginning this week, four former Kansas State players have been assigned to their respective Triple A clubs. Pitcher Carlos Torres, who pitched for Colorado last season, signed with the New York Met organization during the offseason and will begin the year pitching for the Las Vegas 51s. Torres played his senior campaign at K-State in 2004. Infielder Jared Goedert, who was drafted by the Cleveland Indians in 2006, signed with Pittsburgh in the offseason and will begin 2013 in Indianapolis.
Two recent Wildcats, infielder Carter Jurica (2008-10) and pitcher Evan Marshall (2009-11) will see their first-career action in Triple A for the San Francisco Giants and Arizona Diamondbacks, respectively. Jurica will play for the Fresno Grizzlies, while Marshall will pitch for the Reno Aces.