Kansas Set to Host Dillons Sunflower Showdown with K-State
May 9, 2013
LEADING OFF: Kansas rides a season-best, six-game winning streak into one of the most important Dillons Sunflower Showdowns with Kansas State at Hoglund Ballpark in recent memory.
Kansas (31-18, 12-9) sits in second place in the Big 12 standings, just a half game back of Kansas State (34-15, 11-7), who lead the league along with Oklahoma and West Virginia with one additional weekend of league play remaining after this series.
Kansas, which has won five of seven Big 12 series, concludes conference play against K-State before ending the regular season on the road at Utah next weekend.
The Sunflower Showdown not only has implications for the Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City, but also could be key to Kansas getting into the NCAA Tournament or give K-State a shot at hosting a regional. KU enters the weekend at No. 48 in the Rating Percentage Index (RPI) and K-State is No. 24.
ON THE AIR: All three games in the Sunflower Showdown can be heard on KLWN (1320 AM) with veteran play-by-play man Tom Hedrick calling the action along with Sean Levine and Aaron Berlin. Fans can also listen or access a live video production of the series on AT&T Jayhawk All-Access at KUAthletics.com.
PROMOTIONS: Friday (6 p.m.) – Baseball Cap Giveaway (500) presented by Millard Management; Teacher Appreciation Day. Saturday (1 p.m.) – Sunflower Showdown Pennant Giveaway (500); KU College World Series 20th Anniversary Celebration; Dillons Appreciation Day; Senior Saturday. Sunday (1 p.m.) – Bud Walker Caring for Kids Hats – Trading Cards Giveaway (100); Mother Appreciation Day; Senior Day; Bud Walker Day; Family Fun & Food; Youth Baseball Day; Kids Run the Bases; Postgame Autographs.
SERIES HISTORY: Kansas leads the all-time series with Kansas State, 179-167-1, including an 87-66 mark against the Wildcats in Lawrence. The two teams split four games last season, with K-State officially winning the Big 12 series two games to one in Manhattan. In last year’s meeting in Lawrence, former Jayhawk Zac Elgie hit the first pitch he saw in the bottom of the 11th over the wall in centerfield to help the Jayhawks walk-off with an 8-7 win.
SCOUTING THE WILDCATS: Kansas State is not only one of the top offensive teams in the Big 12 Conference, but ranks second in the nation with a .323 team batting average. The Wildcats score at a 6.3 runs-per-game clip, tops in the league and top-50 in the nation. Those numbers, along with a young, but talented starting rotation, have helped the Wildcats tie for the league lead at this point of the season with back-to-back series wins against TCU and Texas. Kansas State has won seven of its last night games.
K-State’s lineup boasts three of the top hitters in the conference, including Austin Fisher (.356) and Ross Kivett (.354). Fisher is tied for second in the conference, along with KU’s Alex DeLeon, with 16 doubles, and Shane Conlon has launched seven home runs. Kansas State isn’t exclusively the bash brothers, however, as the team leads the league with 26 triples (fourth-best in the nation) and are the closest to Kansas (87) at the top of the league stolen base charts with 84 thefts.
LAST TIME OUT: Kansas keeps calling the bullpen and Jordan Piché keeps answering the phone. The National Stopper of the Year candidate worked out of a first-and-third jam in the bottom of the eighth inning then sat down the Shockers in order in the ninth to close out a 7-5 Kansas win at Eck Stadium Tuesday night. Piché notched his Big 12-best 10th save of the season while helping Kansas extend its season-best winning streak to six games, including its third sweep of Wichita State in the last five seasons. Piché worked in his fourth game in five days and has pitched in six of the last seven contests.
Kansas designated hitter Connor McKay clubbed a two-out, bases clearing triple to cap a five-run fifth inning and give Kansas a commanding 6-2 lead, but Wichita State rallied with a pair of runs in the seventh and another in the eighth before Piché was called upon to save another contest. The three-time Big 12 Conference Newcomer of the Week didn’t allow a hit and lowered his ERA to 0.71, the second-best mark in the nation.