K-State Opens 2020 Season at UTRGV Friday

MANHATTAN, Kan. – K-State begins its 120th season of baseball and the second under head coach Pete Hughes on Friday against UTRGV at 7 p.m., kicking off a four-game series with the Vaqueros at UTRGV Baseball Stadium.

The Wildcats bring back 20 letterwinners from a season ago, including seven starters and 2019 Big 12 Freshman of the Year Jordan Wicks. K-State finished the 2019 season with a 25-33 record (8-16 Big 12) and earned a berth in the Big 12 Tournament for the first time since 2016.

K-State will send a pair of right-handed newcomers to the mound to open the season in Carson Seymour (Friday) and Connor McCullough (Saturday) before Wicks takes the ball on Sunday. Both McCullough and Seymour were forced to miss last season due to NCAA transfer rules.

A season ago, the Wildcats took two of three games from the Vaqueros at Tointon Family Stadium, and own a 4-2 edge in the series’ history, dating back to 1985.

All four games of the series will be streamed free on the WAC Digital Network and the WAC Digital Network app. Radio coverage is available on News Radio KMAN (93.3 FM, 1350 AM) with live streaming audio at K-StateSports.com/watch and the K-State Sports app.

GAME #1
K-STATE (0-0) at UTRGV (0-0)

Friday, February 14 // 7 p.m. // UTRGV Baseball Stadium (5,000) // Edinburg, Texas
Projected Starters: RHP Carson Seymour (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. RHP Kevin Stephens (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Watch: WAC Digital Network
Radio: KMAN (93.3 FM, 1350 AM) // John Kurtz, Christopher Brown
Listen Online: K-StateSports.com/watch // 1350KMAN.com
Listen Online | Live Stats

GAME #2
K-STATE (0-0) at UTRGV (0-0)

Saturday, February 15 // 2 p.m. // UTRGV Baseball Stadium (5,000) // Edinburg, Texas
Projected Starters: RHP Connor McCullough (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. RHP John Henry Gonzalez (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Watch: WAC Digital Network
Radio: KMAN (93.3 FM, 1350 AM) // John Kurtz, Christopher Brown
Listen Online: K-StateSports.com/watch // 1350KMAN.com
Listen Online | Live Stats

GAME #3
K-STATE (0-0) at UTRGV (0-0)

Sunday, February 16 // 2 p.m. // UTRGV Baseball Stadium (5,000) // Edinburg, Texas
Projected Starters: LHP Jordan Wicks (0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs. RHP Christian Rojas (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Watch: WAC Digital Network
Radio: KMAN (93.3 FM, 1350 AM) // John Kurtz, Christopher Brown
Listen Online: K-StateSports.com/watch // 1350KMAN.com
Listen Online | Live Stats

GAME #4
K-STATE (0-0) at UTRGV (0-0)

Monday, February 17 // 7 p.m. // UTRGV Baseball Stadium (5,000) // Edinburg, Texas
Projected Starters: TBA vs. RHP Landon Staats (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
Watch: WAC Digital Network
Radio: KMAN (93.3 FM, 1350 AM) // John Kurtz, Christopher Brown
Listen Online: K-StateSports.com/watch // 1350KMAN.com
Listen Online | Live Stats
 
A LOOK AT K-STATE
K-State enters its 120th season of baseball and second under head coach Pete Hughes … In Hughes’ first season at the helm, the Wildcats qualified for their first Phillips 66 Big 12 Baseball Championship since 2016 after going 25-33 (8-16 Big 12), entering the postseason tournament as the league’s No. 8 seed … K-State retains 20 letterwinners from a season ago while welcoming 15 newcomers (five freshmen) … The list of returners includes seven starters four, four-year seniors and Big 12 Freshman of the Year Jordan Wicks … The Cats bring back 11 statistical category leaders, including Zach Kokoska (average), Wicks (wins, strikeouts), Chris Ceballos (home runs, RBI) and Dylan Phillips (home runs) … All six Wildcats that earned All-Big 12 honors in 2019 return for 2020, including Kokoska, Caleb Littlejim, Terrence Spurlin and Cameron Thompson … K-State ended its 2019 season on a six-game skid, equaling its longest streak of the season.
 
A LOOK AT UTRGV
UTRGV finished the 2019 season with a 34-21 (19-8 WAC) record … The Vaqueros ended the regular season in a first-place tie in the WAC standings – their first Western Athletic Conference title in program history … UTRGV ended its season after dropping both games in the WAC Tournament as the No. 2 seed … Nineteen letterwinners, including seven starters, come back for the 2020 season, headlined by senior catcher Conrado Diaz who was the team’s hitting leader with his .319 average … Diaz, along with senior shortstop Christian Sepulveda and senior outfielder Coleman Grubbs, were each named to the 2020 Preseason All-WAC Team … In the WAC’s preseason coaches’ poll, UTRGV ended in a tie for fourth place along with California Baptist … On the mound, the Vaqueros’ staff does not possess any pitcher with more than one start under his belt.
 
INSIDE THE SERIES
K-State leads the all-time series 4-2 dating back to 1985 when UTRGV was known as UT Pan American … Last season, the Wildcats claimed two of three games at Tointon Family Stadium … K-State took the series opener 3-1 behind Griffin Hassall’s start, and later earned the series victory with a 7-1 win on Saturday … Jordan Wicks allowed one earned run over his 6 1/3 innings of work with six strikeouts in his Game 2 start … UTRGV salvaged the finale, 6-5, scoring three unanswered runs from the sixth inning on … Cameron Thompson paced the Cats’ offense, hitting .583 (7 for 12) with a double and three RBI … Chris Ceballos hit two home runs in the series and drove in five … K-State’s staff struck out 28 hitters against just six walks over the three-game series.
 
HONOR ROLL
The Big 12 Conference tabbed Jordan Wicks as its Freshman of the Year … Wicks became the second Wildcat to earn the honor after setting program records in innings pitched and strikeouts by a freshman, both of which had stood since 1973 … Wicks was also named to Second Team All-Big 12 and was a unanimous selection to the All-Freshman Team … Wicks was joined on the All-Freshman Team by pitcher Griffin HassallZach Kokoska, Caleb Littlejim, Terrence Spurlin and Cameron Thompson each earned honorable mention honors … Seven Wildcats were recognized by the league office by being named Academic All-Big 12 … Will Brennan, Littlejim and Mitch Zubradt were all selected to the first team while Brogan Heinen, Jordan Maxson, Spurlin and Thompson all earned second-team accolades.
 
FRESHMEN RECORD BREAKERS
K-State freshman Jordan Wicks set the program’s all-time single-season record for innings pitched (84.2) and strikeouts (86) by a freshman … Both records had stood since 1973 and were both set by Andy Replogle (78.2 IP, 78 K) … Wicks’ 86 strikeouts were the eighth-most in a single season in K-State history and 14 strikeouts shy of the program record of 100 strikeouts in a season (A.J. Morris, 2009) … With 10 home runs, freshman Dylan Phillips broke K-State’s single-season freshman home run record, set by Brian Culp (1990) and Todd Fereday (1994) with seven homers.
 
POWER SURGE
K-State ended the 2019 season with 54 home runs – its highest single-season total since 2009 (58) and tied for the fifth-most in program history … From April 10-May 4, the Wildcats had a stretch of 14 consecutive games with at least one home run, marking the Cats’ longest such streak in the Big 12 era … 48 of K-State’s 54 home runs last season were hit by either a newcomer or someone who did not hit a home run in 2018 … The Cats’ offense hit 32 homers over the season’s final 25 contests, with six multi-homer games over that stretch .. The Wildcats were 22-14 when hitting a home run and 8-3 when hitting multiple home runs … The Cats ranked third in the league in homers as a team in both overall games and conference games during the regular season.
 
WEEKEND REINFORCEMENTS
K-State welcomes two new arms to its weekend rotation in redshirt sophomore Carson Seymour and redshirt freshman Connor McCullough, who both had to sit out the 2019 season due to NCAA transfer rules … Seymour, a Dartmouth transfer, enters 2020 with some major MLB Draft buzz after he was tabbed the country’s No. 56 prospect by D1Baseball.com and the 96th-best prospect by MLB Pipeline …  Originally an Arkansas commit, McCullough earned an All-Star nod in the prestigious Cape Cod League with the Harwich Mariners … The 6-foot righty posted a 1.51 ERA in eight outings (six starts) with 41 strikeouts … The duo were teammates for the Mariners and played for K-State volunteer assistant coach Steve Englert, leading Harwich to the championship series.
 
IRON MAN, CAM
Cameron Thompson has started all 167 games during his three-year Wildcat career … Thompson has started games in center field, third base, second base and shortstop … Projected as the opening day third baseman, Thompson has led the Cats in hits in two of the last three seasons … If the Pasadena, Texas, product starts all 56 scheduled regular-season games in 2020, he would move into second in program history with 223 career starts.
 
DOUBLE-DOUBLE
Catcher Chris Ceballos and outfielder Dylan Phillips became the first Wildcat teammates to reach double-digit home runs since 2009 … The duo, who each lifted 10 bombs, are the first returning Wildcat teammates with 10 or more homers in the Big 12 era.
 
MAKING A LITTLE HISTORY
During the 2019 season, the Cats knocked off seven ranked opponents, marking their highest such total since the 2011 season (7) and more than the three previous seasons combined (4) … Series victories over then-No. 14 Texas and No. 19 TCU were the first consecutive series wins over top-20 teams in program history … The 54 home runs launched by the Wildcat offense was the team’s highest total since 2009 (58) … The K-State pitching staff combined to strike out 448 hitters during the 2019 season … The strikeout total marked the third-highest single-season total in program history and was just four shy of matching the all-time record.
 
FUN WITH NUMBERS
K-State finished with a 20-6 record when scoring at least six runs in 2019 … Conversely, the Wildcats were 5-17 when scoring five or fewer runs … When limiting its opponent to five or fewer runs, K-State ended with a 22-7 mark … The Cats were a perfect 23-0 when leading after eight innings in 2019 … In extra-inning contests, K-State was 0-2 and was outscored 7-3 in extra frames … The Cats scored first in exactly half of their games last season (29 of 58) … In one-run games, K-State went 4-6 with a 9-10 record in games decided by two runs or less.

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Source: Kansas State Sports