KU 16-17, 3-6 (RPI #117) @ K-State 20-8, 3-3 (RPI #32)
The Jayhawks travel to Manhattan for a single game vs. Kansas State tonight at 7PM. The contest will be broadcast nationally on Fox Sports Midwest. I believe that will be Channel 36 for Lawrence Sunflower subscribers.
This game is a non-conference game so will not factor into the Big-12 standings. KU has trouble finding mid-week NCAA opponents. In order not to have the players miss class time mid-week games need to either be home games or within less than five hours driving time. The only NCAA schools within that geography are Kansas State, Missouri, Missouri State and Wichita State.
Tonight's non-conference game with K-State is a good idea on two levels. One is that the Wildcats are a pretty good team. The game should help KU's RPI rating. Also, the Jayhawk players will not be mentally jerked around by switching between Top-100 pitching and hitting and NAIA level play. I don't know if I am right, but I suspect it hurts the team, especially the pitchers, to have to shift up and down gears throughout the season. Just because you can sneak an 85 mph fast ball past a St. Mary's shortstop does not mean you can try the same pitch sequence against a Big-12 batter.
KU: Not announced yet but I suspect it will be Andres Esquibel (4-2, 4.93 ERA) who, as I discovered earlier this week is having a lot of success as a starter.
KSU: Todd Vogel (1-0, 2.89 ERA) 18.2 Innings, 17 hits, 5/10 BB/K.
KU leads the all time series 157-151-1, although trail in games played in Manhattan 86-75-1.
K-State in a nutshell
Very briefly, K-State has played surprisingly well this year. As a team there are hitting .285/.357/.422. and scoring 5.8 runs per game. Their strength appears to be their pitching and defense. The team ERA sits at 4.39, a very good figure for NCAA play. The team's fielding percentage is also high at .975. Thus the Wildcats hit for a decent average, have decent power, steal bases often enough (32 on the year), play good defense and have a fairly solid pitching staff. This might not be the K-State of the past, the only Big-12 program KU has consistently finished in front of during the last five or ten years.
Some noteworthy K-State victories this year, two vs. (RPI #88) Penn State, two vs. (#49) Ohio State and two vs. (#83) BYU. They have split their six conference games, loosing two of three to Texas, and winning this weekend's home series with Texas Tech. The RPI has K-State ranked at #32, and that speaks for itself.
KU adds a home game Wednesday
KU added a home game to its schedule for this Wednesday vs. NAIA Kansas Wesleyan. This game replaces an earlier rainout vs. North Dakota State. Apparently no replacement NCAA team could be found at this late date. First pitch vs. K-Wesleyan will be at 4PM.