Struggling Cats open 3-game series

By Brady Bauman

It’s been a tough start for the Kansas State baseball team.

The Wildcats — who have made it to the NCAA tournament each of the past three seasons — are hanging on to a .500 record at 14-14. They are 2-5 in the last seven games.

Senior pitcher Matt Applegate isn’t down, though, as the Cats look forward to a three-game home series that begins tonight at Tointon Family Stadium against Sacred Heart.

“We’ve had some ups and downs,” the right-hander said following Wednesday’s practice, “but we’ve got a lot ahead of us and we need to pick it up a little bit. In these last 10 games we’ve struggled and we need to get back going and doing the things we do well.

“My last couple starts have been better. I struggled early. I wasn’t able to throw together a couple starts in a row, but I’ve been able to build off a couple and I think I can keep going from there. I just need to continue to throw strikes – not try and do too much – and give us a chance to win.”

Applegate, who will have the start tonight against Sacred Heart, is 2-3 so far on the year for K-State. His wins came against ranked opponents in Texas A&M and Texas. Currently the Wichita native has an ERA of 5.14 through 42 innings of play — the most of the team. His 37 strikeouts are the most on the roster.

K-State currently ranks fourth in the Big 12 in team batting average with a mark of .291 and has three players in the Top 15 individually. Sophomore Jared King is the highest Wildcat, ranking third in hitting at a clip of .379, while Wade Hinkle is seventh, Tanner Witt at No. 11 and Matt Giller tied at No. 13.

Applegate said the high offensive numbers give him more confidence on the mound.

“No doubt,” he said. “They go out and score runs. I’m not sure where they are at right now but a few games ago they were averaging six to seven runs a game. As a pitcher you know if you give up a couple runs early in the game you should keep going out there and making your pitches because you know they are going to put up runs, so you have to keep giving them a chance.”

Sacred Heart comes to Manhattan 10-16 overall, but have won two out the last three with victories against Fairleigh Dickinson and Yale.

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