K-State looks to rebound against Baylor in three-game home series

Emily DeShazer | The Collegian K-State junior second baseman catches an infield pop-up by Kansas' Dakota Smith (left) on April 4 at Tointon Family Stadium.

This season has not gone nearly as well as anybody expected for the Wildcats, which was picked to repeat as the Big 12 champions again this year in the coaches’ preseason poll. However, a 2-7 start to league play has them scrambling to right the ship and finish the season on a good note.

K-State (20-17, 2-7 Big 12) welcome Baylor (17-19, 4-7 Big 12) today through Saturday to Tointon Family Stadium in a series between struggling teams. The Wildcats have lost four straight and seven of their last 10 matchups, while the Bears have won just two of their last eight games.

K-State will send Levi MaVorhis to the mound tonight to for the series opener, and the sophomore has dazzled this season with a 4-4 record and a 2.76 ERA. He is also the only Big 12 pitcher to have more than one shutout this season, with two so far. His .222 opposing batting average places him ninth in the conference, while 58 2/3 innings pitched is sixth in the Big 12. Baylor’s staring pitcher will be Brad Kuntz, who enters the game with a 4-1 record and a 3.86 ERA.

The Wildcats will shake up their rotation on Friday, starting freshman Jordan Floyd rather than senior Jared Moore, who had served as the team’s number two starter all season. Floyd has yet to start a game as a Wildcat, but has a 0-1 record and a 4.05 ERA in 12 appearances this season. The Bears will counter Floyd’s inexperience with senior Dillon Newman and his 2.74 ERA in nine starts this season.

The series finale will pit K-State’s Nate Griep against Baylor’s Daniel Castano. Griep had a stellar start to his freshman year, but struggled mightily last week against Texas Tech, bumping his ERA 3.12. Castano has a 2.72 ERA in 14 appearances and five starts in 2014.

K-State’s offense leads the Big 12 with a .295 batting average, while the Bears are last in the conference at a lowly .223.

After a four-hit game on Tuesday, senior third baseman RJ Santigate leads the Wildcats with a .345 average, while freshman designated hitter Tanner DeVinny is right behind him at .333 and carries a .484 slugging percentage into the series.

Baylor has no players hitting over .300 or slugging over .400, and are led at the plate Duncan Wendel, who is swinging the bat to a .277 average.

Tonight and Friday’s games start at 6:30 p.m., with Saturday’s series finale at 7 p.m.