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Super Regional preview: Everything UVA Baseball fans need to know about Kansas State

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Kansas State might remind you a tiny bit of the 2015 UVA team that snuck into the NCAA Tournament and went on to win the College World Series.

K State was 32-24, 15-15 in the Big 12, with an RPI in the upper 40s on Selection Monday, and if the selection committee had gone with TCU (33-21, 14-16 Big 12, RPI: 42, three wins in four games with Kansas State in 2024), no one would have blamed the suits for doing so.

The committee, in putting the Wildcats into the field, didn’t do them any favors, sending them to the regional being hosted by #5 national seed Arkansas.

Credit to Kansas State for going 3-0 in Fayetteville, with a 7-6 win over the Razorbacks on Saturday night and a 7-2 over Southeast Missouri State on Sunday after SEMO had eliminated the Hogs earlier in the day.

From barely making the field, then, the ‘Cats are two games away from a trip to Omaha.

Getting to know: The K State coach

You might remember the guy who is the head coach there, Pete Hughes, who was the head guy at Virginia Tech from 2007-2013, leading the Hokies to two NCAA Tournament appearances before leaving to take the job at Oklahoma.

That one didn’t work out so well: Hughes was let go after a meh four-year run that included just one NCAA appearance.

The 2024 NCAA invite was the first for K State since Hughes took over there in 2019.

Getting to know: K State pitching

The starting rotation has 6’5” lefty Owen Boerema (6-3, 5.07 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 105Ks/45BBs in 92.1 IP) set as the #1 guy.

Last weekend, Boerema had to be lifted with one out in the fifth with a 9-1 lead in a game that turned into a 19-4 K State rout over Louisiana Tech.

Not good.

In that one, Boerema ended up being charged with four runs on two hits and six walks.

One stat that stands out with Boerema: the 15 homers and 36 extra-base hits allowed in his 92.1 innings of work this season.

The #2 starter is 6’1” righty Jackson Wentworth (5-5, 4.11 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 110Ks/25BBs in 81.0 IP), who was solid in the win over Arkansas on Saturday night – allowing two runs on seven hits in five and two-thirds innings, striking out three and walking three.

In the regional clincher, Hughes got good work out of 6’3” righthander Ty Ruhl (1-2, 7.16 ERA, 2.08 WHIP, 17Ks/15BBs in 16.1 IP), who gave K State four scoreless innings, and 6’3” lefthander Cole Wisenbaker (4-0, 2.51 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 29Ks/14BBs in 32.1 IP), who put up three scoreless.

The closer, 6’2” righty Tyson Neighbors, brings gas out of the bullpen (1-2, 9 saves, 3.93 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 60Ks/16BBs in 36.2 IP).

Neighbors struck out five in three and a third in the win over Arkansas, but he did get touched up for four runs on six hits.

You may also see 6’2” righty Josh Wintroub (2-4, 5.93 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 56Ks/13BBs in 54.2 IP), who made 13 starts for Hughes this season, this weekend.

Wintroub has allowed 10 homers and 27 extra-base hits in his 54.2 innings of work this season.

Getting to know: The K State lineup

The Kansas State offense averages 6.5 runs per game, and has a .274/.379/.434 slash line, and an .813 team OPS.

One thing OPS doesn’t measure is stolen bases. K State led the Power 5 and ranked 10th nationally overall with its 135 stolen bases in 2024, with Brendan Jones (.303 BA/.923 OPS, 8 HRs, 34 RBIs) leading the way with 39 (!) in 41 attempts.

Kaelen Culpepper (.329 BA/.998 OPS, 11 HRs, 56 RBIs) has 17 steals in 21 attempts. Brady Day (.325 BA/.961 OPS, 9 HRs, 56 RBIs) has 16 steals in 18 attempts.

In all, the lineup has six guys in double-digits in steals.

Just warning you: there will be lots of throws over to first base.

The other power bats: Chuck Ingram (.284 BA/.843, 11 HRs, 31 RBIs, 9 SBs/14 atts) and Raphael Pelletier (.210 BA/.770 OPS, 9 HRs, 29 RBIs).

Chris Graham

Chris Graham

Chris Graham is the founder and editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1994 alum of the University of Virginia, Chris is the author and co-author of seven books, including Poverty of Imagination, a memoir published in 2019, and Team of Destiny: Inside Virginia Basketball’s Run to the 2019 National Championship, and The Worst Wrestling Pay-Per-View Ever, published in 2018. For his commentaries on news, sports and politics, go to his YouTube page, or subscribe to his Street Knowledge podcast. Email Chris at [email protected].