K-State looks to carry home momentum into mid-week Creighton series

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K-State junior catcher Tyler Moore at bat during the first game of the series against Santa Clara on Mar. 6, 2015 at Tointon Family Stadium. The Wildcats swept Santa Clara in the opening home series Mar. 6-8, 2015. (George Walker | The Collegian)

After a successful weekend series sweep of Santa Clara, K-State baseball (7-7) welcomes the Creighton Blue Jays (5-5) into Manhattan for a two-game, mid-week series beginning tonight.

Leading the Wildcats in the sweep of Santa Clara was junior catcher Tyler Moore, who hit a team-high .538 and eight RBIs, all the while being named Big 12 Newcomer of the Week Monday.

“He has a really good approach right now,” K-State head coach Brad Hill said. “Tyler is getting to be a really good hitter. Obviously, he throws the ball well. I thought he took them out of their game quickly particularly on Friday by throwing a couple guys out. He’s kind of doing it behind the plate and with the bat. He had a big weekend for us.”

K-State has been dominant when playing at home over the past several seasons. The Wildcats have won 23 of their last 24 games against nonconference opponents at home, stretching all the way back to a 4-3 win against Minnesota in 2013.

The team doesn’t have much time to rest on their laurels, with only one day of preparation for the Blue Jays after the weekend series. Creighton is also coming off only a day’s rest after being blanked by Minnesota 9-0.

The Gophers held the Blue Jays hitless Sunday night, which followed a marathon 12-inning loss on Saturday that Minnesota also won. Creighton has now dropped three-straight games heading into Tuesday’s matchup.

With fatigue possibly playing a role in the mid-week series, senior first baseman Shane Conlon said the team needs to concentrate on their energy.

“Honestly, it’s probably just getting our bodies on rest,” Conlon said. “It’s going to be a quick turnaround and coming in and trying bring the same energy we brought this weekend. So (Creighton) is a great team, they’ve played us tough. And it’s great to be at home too.”

The Wildcats will try to carry their strong offensive performance from last weekend into the new series. K-State put up 31 runs in the three-game series against Santa Clara, including a season-high 17 runs in Saturday’s 17-5 win.

Hill said he hopes that the Creighton series will bring about a level of balance for the Wildcats, which struggled offensively the weekend before against the University of California.

“We try to talk about balance,” Hill said. “If pitching is not so good, can you cover it with the offense? If offense isn’t so good, can you cover it with pitching and defense? So we’re trying to find that balance a little bit, because you don’t know what Tuesday will bring.”

K-State pitchers are five strikeouts away from being the fastest bullpen in program history to reach 100 strikeouts since the 2012 K-State bullpen did it in 14 games.

Junior right-hander Kyle Halbohn (0-1, ERA 1.50) will get the start on Tuesday against a to-be-announced Creighton pitcher. Halbohn has appeared in four games so far this season, registering six hits, two runs and six strikeouts.

Both the Wildcats and the Blue Jays have yet to announce a pitcher for Wednesday’s game.

K-State leads the overall series against Creighton 49-38-1. The Wildcats are also 35-17-1 at home, and 19-5 in mid-week games over the last two years.

First pitch of the series is at 6:30 p.m. at Tointon Family Stadium.

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