On the heels of a disappointing three-game sweep against No. 14 Texas over the weekend, K-State baseball returns home for a one-game pit stop against Nebraska-Omaha tonight before heading back out on the road for more Big 12 action.
The Wildcats (11-12, 0-3) are in the midst of playing seven of eight games on the road. Tonight’s contest is an opportunity to regain confidence before the thick of the conference season.
“It’s important to us to hopefully get some confidence going,” K-State head coach Brad Hill said Tuesday. “We really need to get some momentum going into the weekend. Particularly from a offensive standpoint. I’d like to see us swing the bats free and easy and loose tomorrow and hopefully we have some production.”
Part of getting that production back is the continued steady play of junior outfielder Clayton Dalrymple, who leads the team in batting average heading into tonight’s game with a fiery .338.
“He’s been really consistent for us throughout the year,” Hill said. “He kind of struggled, honestly, down in Texas. But, for the most part throughout the course of the year, he’s been one of our most consistent guys getting on base and getting some hits. His on-base percentage is way up, and he’s scoring runs for us.”
Dalrymple is 10th among Big 12 hitters in batting average and ninth in on-base percentage through 23 games.
K-State is fresh off the three-game sweep in Austin, Texas, which ended up being condensed to two days due to rain. Mother Nature also disturbed the second game of the Wildcats’ Stephen F. Austin series.
“It was tough with all of the rainouts in Texas,” junior catcher Tyler Moore said. “Everyone was kind of lackadaisical a little bit on Sunday, but we really need to come out and win this game. It’s a big game for us.”
While the Wildcats have had a rough start to their conference slate, the Mavericks of Nebraska-Omaha sit atop the Summit League, undefeated so far in conference play.
K-State leads the overall series against Nebraska-Omaha 7-1, but in the most recent matchup between the two schools, it was the Mavericks who came out with a 6-5 home victory last April.
“The thing about Nebraska-Omaha is that there is a lot of good players in Nebraska,” Hill said. “They’re very-well coached, they compete really well. They come in here with a chip on their shoulder and we’ve never had a easy time with them. They beat us at their place last year. It’s always a very competitive game.”
Even with the road struggles, the Wildcats have shone at home hitting a .327 average and scoring 8.1 runs per game in front of a purple crowd.
Junior right-handed pitcher Kyle Halbohn (2-1, ERA 1.80) will make his third-straight start this season for K-State going up against the Mavericks sophomore Brett Sasse (0-0, ERA 2.61).
Halbohn had an extremely productive showing last time out against Stephen F. Austin, throwing six innings while only allowing one run on four hits.
First pitch against Nebraska-Omaha is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at Tointon Family Stadium.