By Wendell Barnhouse | firstname.lastname@example.org
A problem on the Kansas State calendar needed solving. As problems go, however, it was a good one to have.
The Junior Wildcat Camp for baseball was scheduled for June 10-12. If the school’s baseball team wins one of its first two games in the Corvallis (Ore.) super regional, K-State will be playing baseball on June 10. The camp has been rescheduled and moved back two weeks.
It’s understandable that the original dates were selected. This has been a season of firsts for coach Brad Hill’s baseball program – first Big 12 regular-season title (and the first baseball championship in 80 years), first NCAA regional played in Manhattan. And after the Wildcats went 3-0, they earned their first berth in a super regional.
Kansas State (44-17) will be taking on the No. 3 national seed. Over the last decade, the Beavers (48-10) have been a threat to reach the College World Series almost every season and this year is no different. Oregon State is second nationally in ERA. Arkansas, the team that K-State defeated 4-3 to win the regional last Sunday, is No. 1 in ERA.
“We’ve faced challenges all year long like this, we know what we’re going to be up against, it’s never easy,” Kansas State coach Brad Hill said. “It’s going to be can we compete, scratch off enough runs and will our pitching and defense be up the challenge?”
Kansas State is second nationally with a .324 batting average, so this series will be a test of the age-old baseball adage “good pitching stops good hitting.”
Not only has K-State been outstanding at the plate, but the Wildcats have been blessed with good karma. In the regional-clinching victory over the Razorbacks, Kansas State rallied from a 3-0 deficit and scored the tying and winning runs on wild pitches.
“There’s a little bit of magic (in Manhattan),” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “There has been all year.”
Oregon State has made five consecutive and seven of the last eight NCAA tournaments, winning the national championship in 2006 and 2007. K-State made its first NCAA tournament in 2009.
"This program is two wins away from playing in Omaha, and that's every kid's dream," Hill said. "And at Kansas State, that hasn't been much of a reality."
Corvallis (Ore.) Super Regional
Saturday: Kansas State vs. Oregon State, 6 p.m., ESPNU
Sunday: Kansas State vs. Oregon State, 9 p.m., ESPNU
Monday:* Kansas State vs. Oregon State, 6 p.m., ESPNU
How Kansas State got here: The Wildcats, hosting a regional for the first time in school history, went 3-0. K-State defeated Wichita State, 20-11; defeated Bryant, 7-1; defeated Arkansas, 4-3.
How Oregon State got here: The Beavers are the overall No. 3 seed and they rolled to three victories to win the Corvallis Regional. Oregon State defeated Texas-San Antonio, 5-4; defeated UC Santa Barbara, 3-2; defeated Texas A&M, 6-1.
Kansas State update: The Wildcats have won 17 of 21 games; two of their losses during that span have come to Oklahoma, the other Big 12 team that reached the Super Regionals. … Big 12 player of the year Ross Kivett was named the Manhattan Regional most outstanding player. He was 6-for-12 with two homers and five RBIs. … K-State boasts one of the best offenses in the country. It ranks second in the nation in hitting (.324) and eight starters are hitting better than .312. … The pitching staff is solid and follows the “pitch to contact” philosophy. The Wildcats’ pitchers make the other team put the ball in play and then relies on the team’s solid defense. … K-State is 33-3 when leading after 6. Part of the credit goes to Big 12 Freshman of the Year Jake Matthys, who has eight wins, nine saves and a 1.96 ERA. … Kansas State made the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history in 2009 and have made the field four times in the last five seasons.
Oregon State update: Sophomore outfielder Dylan Davis (.349 average, four home runs, 55 RBIs), junior infielder Andy Peterson (.336, 26 RBI, 11 stolen bases) and sophomore outfielder Michael Conforto (.326, nine homers, 42 RBIs) lead the way at the plate. … Davis was the Regional’s Most Outstanding Player, hitting .429 in three games. … The Beavers don’t have a lot of home run power; Conforto’s nine round trippers lead the team. … The Beavers are second nationally in ERA (2.13). … Max Engelbrekt (5-1, 5 SV, 1.32 ERA, 27.1 IP, 21 H, 8 BB, 19 K), Tony Bryant (1-0, 1.76 ERA, 30.2 IP, 15 H, 6 BB, 14 K), Ben Wetzler (8-1, 1.98 ERA) and Matt Boyd (10-3, 2.20 ERA) are the top performers on the mound. … Oregon State coach Pat Casey has a 662-386-4 record in 19 seasons at the school and in 25 years as a coach has a record of 833-499-5. … Oregon State is in the Super Regional for the fifth time (2005, 2006, 2007 and 2011).