After splitting their midweek series against Cal State Bakersfield, the K-State baseball team will travel east to Morgantown, W.Va. for a conference series against the West Virginia Mountaineers (21-16, 4-7 Big 12).
K-State (23-19, 4-8 Big 12) has failed to live up to high expectations this season after last season’s conference championship, starting off the regular season with a 1-7 mark and Big 12 play with a 2-7 mark. The team was able to rebound from their rough start at the beginning of the season, and are hoping to do the same in conference play after winning their series last weekend against Baylor.
“We’ve had a sense of urgency for a while,” head coach Brad Hill said after the team’s win on Tuesday night. “We get it and then we lose it, and we just haven’t been able to have a consistent approach. You’re basically down to 17 games, 16 in conference, that’s big. We’ve got to be ready to go, its not going to be easy.”
Senior Ross Kivett, now back at second base where he played for his first three seasons as a Wildcat before a move to center field for part of this season, is at the helm of the offense again this year. The reigning Big 12 Player of the Year is second on the team in batting average with a .340 mark, and third in slugging percentage (.472) and on-base percentage (.460), his perfect 17-for-17 on the base paths is tops on the team.
Newcomers Max Brown and Tyler Stover have also added a new dimension to K-State’s lineup since recently being added in as regulars. Brown, a junior college transfer from Bellevue Community College in Washington, is hitting .313 and slugging .484. Stover is has broken into the lineup at first base as a freshman, and is batting .352 and has a .455 on-base percentage.
West Virginia’s offense Bobby Boyd is swinging the bat to the Big 12 conference-topping tune of a .413 average, and has swiped 15 bags this season. Boyd is joined by Billy Fleming’s .347 batting average and Ryan McBroom’s .340 mark in an offense that is batting .288 as a team.
Friday’s game looks to be a great pitching matchup, with the Wildcats starting sophomore Levi MaVorhis, who has been the team’s ace this season with a 5-4 record and a 2.70 ERA. The Mountaineers will counter with reigning Big 12 Pitcher of the Year Harrison Musgrave, who is 3-3 with a 2.18 ERA.
K-State will send freshman Jordan Floyd to the mound on Saturday for his second career start against West Virginia’s John Means, who is has been spectacular with a 5-1 and a 1.41 ERA this season.
Sunday’s series finale will pit K-State freshman Nate Griep, who is 3-3 with a 3.12 ERA and looking for a rebound from a rough start to conference play against Ross Vance, who is 2-0 with an even 3.00 ERA this year.
K-State’s road trip will continue with a three-game series at TCU next weekend and conclude with a midweek game against Wichita State in Wichita before returning to Manhattan for a six-game home-stand to finish out the regular season.