K-State baseball set to take part in Big 12/Pac-12 showdown

K-State sophomore pitcher Levi MaVorhis throws a pitch on Friday Apr. 4, 2014 at Tointon Family Stadium in the game against Kansas. (File Photo by Emily DeShazer | The Collegian)

K-State baseball (2-2) will continue to avoid the cold in Manhattan with a trip to Arizona this weekend for the 2015 Big 12/Pac-12 Showdown.

The tournament kicks off today with a game against Utah at Surprise Field in Surprise, Arizona, the spring training home of both the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals.

Today also marks the first meeting between the Wildcats and the Utes. Utah is 1-3 on the season after a four-game road series against Sacramento State last weekend.

The Utes will start junior right-handed pitcher Bret Helton (1-0) who has an ERA of 4.50 after starting in Utah’s season opener.

The Wildcats will send sophomore pitcher Nate Griep to the mound to make his second start of the season. Griep started the season strong last Friday by throwing seven strikeouts in K-State’s 5-4 season-opening win over Iowa.

K-State’s bullpen also proved formidable with a 2.00 ERA in 19 innings of work in last weekend. Six of the nine relievers who appeared did not allow a run, including sophomore reliever Colton Kalmus who will take the mound as a starter at the Big 12/Pac-12 Showdown.

Offensively, the Wildcats have lacked power through four games. K-State is one of two Big 12 teams who have yet to hit a home run this season. The lack of power has been substiuted with consistently getting on base, though. Four players enter Thursday’s matchup owning a four-game on-base streak.

Junior shortstop Tyler Wolfe leads the team with four walks this season and has made his way up the batting order from eighth in the season opener to second in the final game in Florida against Saint Louis.

First pitch between K-State and Utah is slated for 5:30 p.m. today.

Following today’s game, K-State will take on Oregon State with junior right-hander Levi MaVorhis (1-0) on Friday at 2 p.m., Washington with right-handed sophomore Kalmus (0-0) on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. and Washington State with junior right-hander Corey Fischer on Sunday at noon.

The final two game of the showdown will be played in Mesa, Arizona at Sloan Park, the training home of the Chicago Cubs.

K-State will be joined in Arizona by fellow Big 12 schools Kansas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State.