Texas Longhorns baseball (16-10, 5-1 Big 12) will begin its first Big 12 road trip of the season on Thursday evening, as the ‘Horns will face Kansas State (13-12, 0-3 Big 12) in Little Manhattan at 6:30 pm CST.
Winners of six of their last seven, Texas is in the middle of a fairly friendly portion of the schedule and will look to continue the momentum against the struggling Wildcats.
Kansas State is currently ranked No. 109 in Boyd’s Worlds Iterative Strength rankings, which is last in the Big 12 (Texas is ranked No. 35, second best in the Big 12).
The Wildcats were swept last weekend on the road at TCU, but broke a four-game losing streak on Tuesday by defeating Omaha at home 3-0.
Despite scoring only four runs across three games last weekend against the Horned Frogs, K-State has been solid at the plate this season. The team holds a .275 average and is led by sophomore left-fielder/DH Will Brennan, who was a Freshman All-American last year. The leadoff man is hitting .404 on the year, with an impressive nine doubles to his name.
Though the Wildcats have been able to get on base this season, the team only is an average power hitting team thus far. K-State has hit for 18 homers, compared to 27 by opponents. Seven of those dingers have been by three-hole hitter Drew Mount, who is hitting .284 on the season.
On the pitching side, K-State has not been very consistent, as the team ERA stands at 5.22. Kansas State’s leader in innings pitched is Thursday probable starter Kasey Ford.
The righty Ford (3-1, 4.81 ERA) allowed only six hits and three walks in a one run complete seven innings against TCU last Friday. He also struck out six Horned Frogs and left the game with a 2-1 lead (K-State would ultimately fall 2-4). The sophomore is a strikeout pitcher who has the ability to go deep into ball games. His only really bad outing inflating his stats is when he allowed seven runs in 7.2 innings against Charleston earlier this month.
Ford will go against Texas sophomore right-hander Blair Henley. Henley (3-2, 2.75 ERA) was dealt Texas’ lone loss last weekend against Oklahoma State, and allowed 10 hits and five earned runs in his six complete innings. Three of those runs came in the seventh inning, when Henley simply appeared to be out of gas. Henley has otherwise been excellent this season, with a team second-high 36.0 innings pitched and team-second high 27 strikeouts.
The leader in both of those categories is junior right-handed pitcher Nolan Kingham, who will get the call on Friday. Kingham (4-2, 3.67 ERA) appears to finally be finding his footing after a rocky start to the season. Last weekend, Kingham allowed seven hits, no walks, and one run in eight complete innings in an impressive victory over Oklahoma State. The weekend prior, he threw for a complete game win against Kansas. Though K-State has not announced a starter yet for Friday, give the ‘Horns the edge.
Texas is TBA for a Saturday starter, but Chase Shugart (1-2, 5.40 ERA)is always a likely suspect. Kansas State will be pitching RHP Justin Heskett (2-2, 4.22 ERA), who is second on the team with 32.0 innings pitched. The senior also held strong against TCU, giving up a respectable three runs in six innings.
Texas is in great position in the Big 12 standings currently, behind only a pair of 3-0 teams in TCU and Oklahoma. A series sweep this weekend could put Texas in control of its Big 12 destiny. Despite being on the road, David Pierce should be asking for no less than a series victory this weekend.
You can listen in to the game on 104.9 the Horn. Hook ‘Em!