After a six-game road trip in which K-State baseball went 3-3, the Wildcats return home for a unusual late-season, nonconference series against the Arkansas State Red Wolves beginning tonight at Tointon Family Stadium.
The Wildcats (21-23) are coming off of a bizarre journey from Waco, Texas to Minneapolis, Minnesota in which a flight from Dallas to Manhattan ended up being canceled due to weather. The cancellation forced the team to travel by bus all the way to Kansas City, Missouri to catch a flight to Minnesota several hours later.
“It was pretty bizarre,” K-State head coach Brad Hill said. “That one probably takes the cake. It was hard on the kids, there was no question about it. That was rough, and we played like it on Tuesday, to be honest.”
The Wildcats would end up dropping the first game of the series with the Golden Gophers in a shutout before blanking Minnesota 9-0 Wednesday.
The Red Wolves (18-24), meanwhile, are fresh off a 8-3 midweek home loss to Memphis and a weekend series win over Appalachian State.
“You gotta treat it just like a conference weekend,” Hill said. “We can’t take anything lightly. They’re going to throw their Friday-Saturday-Sunday guys. I think they’re very competitive. They have a series win over Louisville. I know they’ll be a very aggressive bunch.”
Junior infielder Tyler Wolfe has been a force for K-State of late with six hits and two walks in his last four games. Wolfe is also carrying a nine-game on-base streak, a team and career high.
If Wolfe can get on base in Friday’s game, he will be the seventh Wildcat this season to have at least a 10-game on-base streak.
K-State will send sophomore Colton Kalmus (1-3, 3.99 ERA) to mound first to take on Arkansas State right hander David Owen (3-4, 2.28 ERA). Saturday will see sophomore Nate Griep (3-2, 2.60 ERA) facing right-hander Adam Grantham (1-2, 2.48 ERA).
Finally, wrapping up the series on Sunday, making his first start of the season, is freshman Bryce Ward (1-1, 1.91 ERA) going against left hander Jon Glidewell (2-1, 4.07 ERA)
Ward has been dominant as a relief guy, putting up a 1.54 ERA in his last 15 appearances. Most recently, Ward threw a career-high 6 1/3 innings in relief in K-State’s 6-3 come-from-behind win to clinch the series against Baylor.
With a sweep against Arkansas State, the Wildcats have a chance to move above .500 for the first time since Big 12 play began.
“I think it’s going to be a good challenge for us,” Hill said. “It is at home. It’s a chance for us to get some momentum going and trying to push your record. Maybe get over that .500 mark that I think would be something significant for us. You know, I think there’s a lot of things we’re playing for this weekend.”
First pitch between the Wildcats and the Red Wolves is scheduled for tonight at 6:30 p.m. at Tointon Family Stadium.