Kansas State (22-10) vs. Creighton (19-11)
April 10 7 p.m.
Tointon Stadium (2,331) Manhattan, Kan.
Tuesday’s game will be broadcast live on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN in Manhattan and online at k-statesports.com. Matt Walters and Brian Smoller will call the action.
Live stats of Tuesday’s game will be available at k-statesports.com.
K-State leads the all-time series with Creighton, 44-32-1, and is 33-15-1 all-time against the Bluejays in Manhattan.
Watch For: Rob Vaughn
Catcher Rob Vaughn has caught fire at the plate ever since his 4-for-4 day at Texas back on March 25. Since that game, Vaughn is hitting .406 (13-for-32) with two homers and 11 RBI in nine games. The sophomore has hit safely in seven of his last nine games played.
Kansas State concludes its current nine-game homestand Tuesday night as Creighton visits Tointon Stadium for a 7 p.m. matchup. Tuesday night’s game will be broadcast live on SportsRadio 1350 KMAN in Manhattan and online at k-statesports.com. The Wildcats, who are still receiving votes in this week’s Coaches Poll, are coming off a tough weekend against Missouri. After blasting the No. 29 Tigers on Friday, the Cats ran into a strong pitching performance by Rick Zagone in game two as Mizzou evened up the series with a 3-0 win. Then, in the rubber game of the series, K-State took a 6-4 lead into the ninth inning until a two-out, two-strike triple plated the tying runs and sent the game into extra innings. The Cats had several chances to win the game in extra innings, but a solo homer in the top of the 12th proved to be the series clincher for the Tigers. Kansas State got solid pitching performances from Brad Hutt, Chase Bayuk, Trevor Hurley and Todd Vogel on the weekend, while the offense put up big numbers on Friday and Sunday. Rob Vaughn continues to swing a hot bat as the sophomore is hitting .406 in his last nine games with two homers and 11 RBI, while freshman Justin Bloxom has hit safely in 10 of his last 14 games and sophomore Byron Wiley in 16 of his last 19 games. The Wildcats continue to play solid defense as they enter the Creighton game with a .975 fielding percentage in all games, which ranks second in the Big 12 Conference, and a .988 mark in league play, which is tops among all 10 baseball-playing institutions in the league.
Kansas State is 85-21 in non-conference games and 72-37 at home under Brad Hill.
Under Brad Hill, Kansas State is 65-31 when its starting pitcher goes six-plus innings.
The Wildcats also are 81-9 under Hill when out-hitting their opponent.
The Cats are also 71-19-1 under Hill when recording 10 or more hits.
Over the last three-plus seasons, K-State is 90-5 when leading after seven innings and 73-23-2 when scoring first.
K-State is leading the Big 12 in fielding percentage at .988 in conference-only games.
K-State is 14-3 this season when giving up three or less walks in a game.
K-State relievers are 13-for-14 in save opportunities and have retired 50-of-72 first batters.
K-State has outscored its opponent, 53-13, in the eighth and ninth innings this season.
K-State is 17-1 this season when out-hitting its opponent.
The Cats are 15-0 when leading after six innings, 15-0 when leading after seven and 20-1 after eight.
K-State is 22-7 when scoring three or more runs this season.
Freshman Justin Bloxom has hit safely in 10 of his last 14 games.
Rob Vaughn is 13-for-32 (.406) with two homers and 11 RBI over his last nine games.
Byron Wiley has hit safely in 16 of his last 19 games and has reached base in all but one game.
Eli Rumler ranks sixth in school history with 13 career sacrifice bunts.
Defensively, Rumler also ranks seventh in school history with 360 career assists.
Pitcher Justin Murray has a 2-0 record with a save and a 1.80 ERA in 10.0 innings as a reliever this season.
Closer Daniel Edwards has 12 career saves, which is tied for second-best in school history
Edwards has yielded just two runs in his last 23.1 innings of work and has 34 K’s in that span.
Edwards has recorded a win or a save in 12 of his last 14 appearances.
Creighton heads into Tuesday’s game having lost three of its last four games after dropping two-straight at eighth-ranked Wichita State. The Bluejays managed just five runs on the weekend against the Shockers as they were held to just 17 total hits. Creighton is led offensively by sophomore first baseman Darin Ruf, who leads the Bluejays in batting average (.348), doubles (9) and extra-base hits with 14. Ruf is also tied for the team-lead in home runs with Chris Gradoville as they each have three. Gradoville then leads the Jays in hits with 41 and RBI’s with 28, as the Bluejays are hitting .280 as a team. On the mound, CU will throw freshman right-hander Casey Schmidt on Tuesday, who enters the game with an ERA of 6.89, but has recorded 15 strikeouts in 15.2 innings of work as he is 1-1 on the season. Junior ambidextrous pitcher Pat Venditte, leads that bullpen and the MVC with 19 appearances, as he has a team-leading 48 strikeouts (31 right, 17 left) and has allowed just 16 runs in 42.1 innings, as opponents are batting just .186 against him.
K-State leads the all-time series with Creighton, 44-32-1, and is 33-15-1 all-time against the Bluejays in Manhattan. K-State has won six of the last nine meetings between the two schools, while four of those six wins have come in Manhattan.
Out of the Pen
Just past the halfway mark of the 2007 season, K-State has seen its pitching staff put up solid numbers, especially the bullpen. K-State’s relievers are 11-4 with a 3.75 ERA in 117.2 innings of work, a number that went up steadily after the tough series at No. 9 Texas. In those 117.2 innings, pitchers have given up 110 hits and 49 earned runs while striking out 107 batters. Opponents are hitting just .251 against all Wildcat relievers this season. Six relievers have accumulated ERA’s of 5.00 or lower, four of which are 1.80 or lower in 73 total appearances.
Saving The Day
K-State relievers have picked up 13 saves so far this season out of 22 total wins and are 13-of-14 in those save opportunities. Daniel Edwards, who earned All-Tournament honors in Tampa with two saves, leads the team and the Big 12 Conference with nine total this season. His 12 career saves are also the second-most in school history and he needs six more to move into a tie for first. Sophomore Trevor Hurley has also picked up two saves, while Jason Linn and Justin Murray have also notched saves.
Start Your Engines
K-State continues to get solid pitching performances from its starters as 15 have gone six-plus innings in starts this season, including Brad Hutt who has lasted 6.0 innings in seven of eight starts. Hutt is 6-1 with a 2.38 ERA and has won eight of his last 11 starts on the mound, dating back to last season.
Flashing Some Leather
Kansas State has set new school records in fielding percentage in each of the last two seasons and this year’s squad is on track to make a run at a third. So far through 32 games, the Wildcats are fielding at a .975 clip, which ranks second in the Big 12 Conference. In Big 12-only games, Kansas State leads the league with a .988 fielding percentage. The Wildcats are 15-7 this season when committing one or no errors in a game and have committed one or no errors in 18 of their last 23 games.
Edwards Slams the Door
Junior closer Daniel Edwards has settled in nicely this season as the Wildcats’ new closer. Edwards has been brilliant so far with nine saves in 10 chances and also has picked up two wins. In 13 appearances this season, Edwards is 2-0 with a 0.89 ERA with nine saves. The junior has struck out 31 batters in 20.1 innings while opponents are hitting just .125 against him. Dating back to last season, Edwards has recorded a save or a win in 12 of his last 14 appearances and has yielded two runs in his last 23.1 innings, dating back to last season.
Daniel Climbing the Save Charts
Daniel Edwards’ nine saves this season are the second-most in single-season school history and he needs just two more to move into a tie for first. For his career, Edwards now has 12 saves, which are tied for the second-most in school history and he needs six more to tie the school record of 18, set by David Johnson. Edwards also ranks fourth school history in career relief appearances with 47.
Give Me Vaughn
Sophomore Rob Vaughn has picked up things considerably at the plate, which began with a career day in K-State’s 11-9 win over No. 9 Texas in Austin. The Humble, Texas, native went 4-for-4 with a grand slam and four RBI in Sunday’s game in his hometown state. Over the last nine games, Vaughn is 13-for-32 (.406) with two homers, five doubles and 11 RBI and has seen his batting average rise to his current .276 mark.
Bloxom is Clutch With Two Outs
True freshman Justin Bloxom has stepped up nicely for the Cats at first base and/or designated hitter this season. Bloxom, who one of the top freshman hitters in the Big 12, has raised his batting average to .290 and is tied for the team lead in RBI with 20. Bloxom, who has hit safely in 10 of his last 14 games, has driven in 11 runs with two outs this season.
The Big Bopper
Sophomore outfielder Byron Wiley has provided some power to the middle of the order and has been the most consistent Wildcat at the plate this season. Wiley enters the week among the Big 12’s best in several offensive categories, including on-base percentage (1st), batting (6th) and walks (t4th). The Tomball, Texas, native leads the Wildcats in 12 different offensive categories and has had multiple hits in 11 games, while recording three or more hits on five different occasions and reaching base safely in 28 of 30 games played. Wiley also has hit safely in 16 of his last 19 games.
Biery Coming on Strong
Drew Biery had a strong end to the 2006 season offensively for the Cats and the sophomore has picked things up as of late in 2007 after battling the injury bug. In his last 12 games, Biery has collected 13 hits, scored 10 runs and driven in 12 more. Biery had a career-best 10-game hitting streak snapped in the middle game of the Missouri series.
Justin From the Pen
Sophomore Justin Murray has been solid in relief as of late after earning four starts earlier this season. Murray, a local product of Manhattan High, has picked up two wins and a save in his last five outings, all of them coming in league play. As a reliever this season, Murray is 2-0 with a save and a 1.80 ERA in 10.0 innings and has picked up wins at No. 9 Texas and at home against Texas Tech.
Sophomore Trevor Hurley enters this weekend’s action with a 1-1 overall record with a 2.70 ERA and two saves on the season and has been a steady arm out of the pen lately. So far this season, Hurley has recorded multiple strikeouts in seven of nine outings, has yielded no runs in six appearances and earned his first win of the season with 3.2 solid innings of relief against Texas Tech. Hurley also has inherited seven runners with just two of them scoring and has retired eight of the nine first-batters he has faced.
Senior Eli Rumler, one of two seniors on this year’s squad, has surpassed the 100 career starts mark this season and has had a great first half of the season both offensively and defensively. Currently, Rumler holds the K-State career hit-by-pitches records with 26, and defensively, Rumler ranks seventh in career assists with 360 and needs 40 more to move into sixth. Rumler also has 13 career sacrifice bunts, which ranks sixth in school history. Rumler also has seen his batting average rise 55 points from last season as the senior hit .258 last season and heads into this week’s action with a .303 mark through 32 games.
Nate Has Been Solid of Late
Sophomore Nate Tenbrink has come up with several key two-out hits this season, including a three-run homer in the eighth inning of the Cal-Santa Barbara game. Tenbrink had entered the at-bat in a 1-for-27 drought but came through with a clutch hit to send the game into extra innings. Tenbrink also had a two-out, two-run single in a win over BYU and has since raised his batting average over 160 points to his current .269 mark. Over his last 20 games, Tenbrink leads the team with a .350 batting average, has collected 10 extra-base hits and has driven in 18 runs, 10 of which have come with two outs.
Friday Night Lights
Junior right-hander Brad Hutt has been solid as the Friday starter for the Wildcats. Hutt tossed 6.2 shutout innings against Penn State in the opener, giving the Wildcats their first season-opening shutout since the 1998 season, and followed with seven strong innings in Tampa in a win over Seton Hall. Hutt is 6-1 this season, ranks second in the league in ERA at 2.38 and has gone six-plus innings in seven of eight starts. Dating back to last season, Hutt has won eight of his last 11 starts and has lasted six-plus innings in all eight of the wins.
Freshman Tyler Ruch has made an instant impact for the Wildcats as a true freshman, and not in just one capacity. Ruch has been very effective out of the bullpen as a situational reliever, but also has started games at first base, the outfield and seen several pinch-hit appearances. On the mound, Ruch has compiled a 4.70 ERA in 10 appearances and earned his first win on February 24 against Ohio State after 1.1 solid innings. Ruch has also been effective with first batters as nine of the 10 first hitters he has faced in relief have been retired. At the plate, Ruch is currently hitting .276 on the season and leads the team in pinch-hitting with a .667 mark (2-for-3) with one run driven in. Ruch also hit his first career homer last Sunday in the 7-6 loss to Missouri, a game in which he was also credited with the loss on the mound.
Hill Tops Century Mark
Kansas State head coach Brad Hill picked up his 100th win as head coach of the Wildcat program against North Dakota State on March 10. In three-plus seasons, Hill is 109-85-2 at Kansas State and is 527-176-2 overall as a head coach in 12-plus seasons. Hill needs just 21 more wins to pass Bob Brasher as the fourth-winningest coach in KSU history. In fact, Hill currently needs just 30 more wins to move all the way up to second place on the chart and pass Phil Wilson for second place.
Young Faces, Key Roles
Kansas State, with 24 total underclassmen on its squad this season, has seen many of those newcomers make an immediate impact on the field. Six freshmen position players have seen action so far this season, while four freshmen pitchers have seen time on the mound. At the sophomore level, six position players have played key roles this season while four second-year pitchers have logged innings.
Youth is Served
Kansas State fields one of the youngest teams in the Big 12 Conference this season, and with 34 players on the roster, 24 of those are underclassmen (13 freshmen and 11 sophomores). 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.
Bulking Up RPI
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 66th-toughest schedule in the country according to Boyd’s World and head into this weekend’s action with 19 games against teams that are ranked in this week’s Top 25. And, speaking of Boyd’s World, Kansas State checks in at No. 34 this week in the RPI ratings, which is fifth among Big 12 teams behind Texas (6), Texas A&M (8), Oklahoma (15) and Nebraska (33).
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 had its Saturday game against Texas Tech and its Tuesday night game against Kansas televised on Fox Sports Net.