Know Your Opponent: No. 6 Oklahoma State

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Sophomore German Fajardo pitches against Northern Colorado on March 30, 2022. The Wildcats beat the Bears 10-7. (Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

Following a sweep against No. 12 (then 19) TCU, the Kansas State baseball team (13-11, 0-3) will search for its first Big 12 win in its conference home opener Friday, April 1. The task is no easier, however, as they match up against No. 6 Oklahoma State (18-7, 3-0).

The Wildcats are coming off a mid-week sweep of two games against Northern Colorado. However, if they want any chance against the sixth-best team in the nation, they’ll have to clean up walks, as they allowed 15 in the two-game series.

HITTING:

The No. 6 Oklahoma State Cowboys are historically known for how they swing the bat, but this year is different. While the potential is through the roof for this club to catch fire, OSU only claims three batters hitting above a .300 batting average (commonly used as the measuring stick for success).

Graduate student Jake Thompson leads the stampede, hitting .368 on 35 hits, 24 RBIs and a staggering 19 walks. Following suit is freshman Zach Ehrhard (.322/29H/11RBIs) and junior David Mendham (.308/20H/19RBIs).

Another Cowboy to watch out for is former football player Nolan McLean, who hasn’t filled out his shoes yet. He’s fourth on the team in batting average with just a .250 batting average but has also raked 22 hits, 15 RBIs and five home runs to put the cherry on top.

It’s worth noting that batting stats don’t always speak to the talent level of this club, while they find numerous ways to score. Between the four of those players mentioned, they collectively drew 58 walks and 65 runs and combines as a team for 162 runs.

PITCHING:

Traditionally not Oklahoma State’s strong suit, pitching has become a recipe for success, holding opponents to a .217 batting average and 3.75 runs per game. Comparing those stats to the Cowboys’ 6.48 runs per game, it’s easy to see why they’re so successful.

Filtering four pitchers around the starting rotation, OSU’s versatility between Justin Cambell, Bryce Osmond, Victor Mederos and Mitchell Stone is dangerous.

Sophomore star pitcher Justin Cambell leads the team with a 2.11 era and 58 strikeouts in 38.1 innings pitched. He’s 3-1, recording wins against Wright State, Seton Hall and Kansas, with his only loss in 0-3 fashion to powerhouse Vanderbilt.

Bryce Osmond, Victor Mederos and Mitchell Stone total for 5.38 era, but have a 4-2 record collectively. Mederos was the missing piece in 2021 before transferring from the University of Miami (Florida), tossing 29 strikeouts in 27 innings this season.

Honorable mentions coming out of the bullpen include Kale Davis (1.40 era, 1-1 W-L, 26 SO, 19 IP) and Roman Phansalkar (2.05 era, 3-2 W-L, 17 SO, 22 IP). Also, Trevor Martin (1-1) posts a 4.20 era but has 22 strikeouts in just 15 innings to his name.

CONCLUSION:

K-State bats have to start hot and stay hot against this dominating pitching rotation to stay in the competition.

The Wildcats hit well against TCU but couldn’t maintain consistency throughout the game. It was either “too little, too late” or not enough to put the Horned Frogs away for another 4-5 innings.

While TCU’s strength was from a hitting standpoint, it would be ignorant to say TCU and Oklahoma State aren’t among the best in the country all-around.

K-State’s best chance to win is to keep firing with explosive and skilled offensive tactics because OSU will likely outmatch the Wildcats in a pitching duel.

Starting at 6 p.m., Friday night’s game opens the first of a three-game series. Tickets are available at K-State Sports, and viewing is on Big 12 Now on ESPN Plus. All stats were collected through the K-State Sports and Oklahoma State websites.

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