Conference stakes run high for K-State in Texas

George Walker | The Collegian Right-hand pitcher Levi MaVorhis pitches the ball at the K-State vs. KU game on Friday at the Tointon Family Stadium.

The up and down season for K-State on the baseball diamond continues this weekend as they travel to Lubbock, Texas for a weekend series against Texas Tech.

In their last five games, the Wildcat offense has scored three runs or less three times and scored 10 runs twice. In this, the team has consistently demonstrated all season that they can not only dominate, but also struggle.

K-State started out 1-7, responded with a 12 game win-streak, and have gone 7-6 since, never winning or losing more than two in a row. Now, in the second half of the season, head coach Brad Hill is looking for consistency, and the team needs a big weekend after taking just one game in each of their other two conference series this season.

For K-State (20-13, 2-4 Big 12), winning this series would go a long way towards sending a message to the rest of the Big 12 that the reigning conference champions are still in it. For Texas Tech (25-11, 5-7 Big 12), winning the series means getting their conference record to .500 or above and showing that they deserve a spot in the national rankings. In conference play, the stakes are always high.

K-State’s offense delivered on its tremendous potential with 10 runs on Wednesday night against Nebraska. After scoring 10 runs last Friday followed by four runs in the next two games combined, they are ready to show that they can keep their foot on the gas for an entire series.

Senior center fielder Ross Kivett leads the team in batting average (.346), hits (44), doubles (10), and stolen bases (10) so far this season, and is the pacesetter for the offense from the leadoff spot in the lineup. Behind him, shortstop Austin Fisher has stepped into the three hole in the lineup and performed terrifically in his junior season by hitting .341, senior third baseman RJ Santigate is batting .328, and senior first baseman Shane Conlon carries a .305 average into the weekend.

For the Red Raider offense, there could not be much more momentum after they pushed 19 runs across on Abilene Christian Tuesday night. Eric Gutierrez is man at the helm of that offense with a .341 average at the plate, .466 on-base percentage, and a .566 slugging percentage. He has also displayed excellent power this season with six home runs, which is tied for most in the Big 12.

Texas Tech is 18-4 this season playing at their home field in Rip Griffin Park in Lubbock, meaning that the Wildcats face a tough battle to come away with a series win, but conference play is gut check time, and both teams are looking to show what they have.

Tonight’s series opener is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., tomorrow’s game starts at 3 p.m., and first pitch on Sunday is slated for 1 p.m.