Know Your Opponent: No. 7 Texas

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Sophomore Connor McCullough pitches for K-State on April 3, 2022, at Tointon Family Stadium. (Archive photo by Madison Riebel | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State baseball entered league play against a ranked TCU squad on March 25, 2022. Since then, the Wildcats have faced No. 5 Oklahoma State, No. 4 Texas Tech, and are now preparing for an early three-game series against No. 7 Texas, Thursday, April 14 through Saturday, April 16.

The Wildcats displayed glimmers of potential in their nine league games (1-8 record) thus far but have found disappointing results. Head coach Pete Hughes’ squad held mid-game or late-game leads in five of the nine match-ups, but only finished with one victory.

If K-State wants to win the series — or even a game — the team needs to maintain No. 7 Texas’ veteran stars while continuing to hit like the third-best offense in the Big 12.

BATTING:

One of those veteran stars is Ivan Melendez, a power-hitting righty from El Paso, Texas. The 6 foot 3 inch junior has smoked 16 homers and 50 RBIs to accompany a .389 batting average, fourth in the Big 12.

Ahead of Melendez in batting average is redshirt-senior Murphy Stehly, hitting a whopping .430 on 10 homer runs and 35 RBIs.

Other stars include Kansas grad-transfer Skyler Messinger (.375 BA / 26 RBIs), Eric Kennedy (.345 BA / 20 RBIs) and Silas Ardoin (.310 BA / 24 RBIs). Other major contributors are … pretty much the whole lineup.

As a team, the Longhorns are hitting a .320 batting average compared to opponents’ .230 — scoring 282 runs compared to 132 — and have hit 57 home runs.

The team is stacked as an offensive unit and is more than fine on the bump as well.

PITCHING:

Pete Hansen, Lucas Gordon and Tristan Stevens lead the Longhorns from a pitching standpoint. Between the three, they’re responsible for an impressive 2.95 earned runs average (Hansen 2.08, Gordan 2.63, Stevens 4.15).

Hansen leads the roster in strikeouts with 64, and nobody else sniffs close to that. Gordon has sat down 27 batters, while Stevens has tallied 26 strikeouts.

The three-headed monster is 12-4 against opponents — Tristan Stevens allowing three of the four losses in the W-L column. That doesn’t include star pitcher Tanner Witt’s clean 2-0 record before suffering an arm injury requiring Tommy John surgery.

CONCLUSION:

K-State’s bats are hot with the exception of this past Saturday’s showing against Texas Tech’s Brandon Birdsell. As noted earlier, the Wildcats have led in four of their eight Big 12 losses and will lose again if relief pitching woes continue haunting them.

It’s difficult to know who’s starting on the hill for the Thursday-Saturday start as K-State has messed with the rotation against the previous three ranked teams. We know we’ll see Connor McCullough (3.66 era) and Blake Adams (4.12 era) at some point.

Only time will tell how head coach Pete Hughes uses the rotation. It’s possible that Griffin Hassall (4.25 era), Blake Corsentino (3.62 era) or Christian Ruebeck (12.05 era) will see the field in some way, shape or form.

Game one is slated for a 6 p.m. start this Thursday at Tointon Family Stadium. General admission tickets and select concessions items are set at one dollar, with tickets available here.

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