MANHATTAN — Arkansas pitcher Ryne Stanek showed why he is one of the top prospects in this month’s Major League Baseball draft.
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound junior from Blue Valley High picked up the win over Wichita State on Saturday at the Manhattan Regional, battling through control issues in a 3-1 victory to advance to play Sunday against the loser of Saturday’s Bryant-Kansas State game.
Stanek issued a season-high 6 walks in 7 1/3 innings, but gave up just two hits and struck out three while throwing 113 pitches.
“To walk six is not a very good thing at all, something I would like to never do again,” Stanek said, laughing. “But I felt like I did my job. Just went and got outs and work out of my issues that I had with control early.”
Stanek, an All-SEC selection, is ranked as the No. 13 overall prospect for the draft by Baseball America. He was a third-round choice of the Seattle Mariners in 2010.
“He didn’t have his absolute best stuff tonight, but his fast ball was good,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “And he did what the really good ones do in that he found a way out of jams. That’s why we left him in a lot longer than we probably would anybody else. Give him credit because he’s used his experience over the last three years to make himself able to handle situations like that.”
Stanek’s one earned run against the Shockers came on a solo home run by Casey Gillaspie in the fourth inning that looked like a fly ball until a gust of wind pushed it over the right-field fence at the last second.
“You’ve got to just bounce back,” Stanek said. “As a pitcher, you can’t let things linger. I felt like I got back on track pretty quickly.”
On the defense — Wichita State finished the season with a .977 fielding percentage, best in coach Gene Stephenson’s 36 seasons.
Center fielder Micah Green provided the game’s most important defensive play when he ran down a blast by Arkansas’ Brian Anderson in the fifth inning with two out and two on.
“An incredible catch,” Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. “We were about to break it open and it would have given us a four-run lead. That really kept them in the game.”
Honors for Kivett — Kansas State junior second baseman was named a third-team All-American by Collegiate Baseball on Saturday. Kivett, the Big 12 player of the year, entered Saturday’s NCAA Regional game against Bryant hitting .365 with 13 doubles, four triples, three home runs and 38 RBIs. Kivett went 4 for 5 with two home runs in the Wildcats’ opening win over Wichita State.
Kivett, from Broadview Heights, Ohio, is the first K-State All-American since outfielder Nick Martini and relief pitcher James Allen in 2011.
The right move? — Bryant coach Steve Owens decided to pull his starting pitcher, Craig Schlitter, in the top of the sixth inning with the score tied 1-1 with no outs and two runners on. Schlitter, up until that point, had been proving tough to hit for K-State’s lineup, doling out six strikeouts and retiring 11 batters in a row at one point.
Schlitter’s replacement, John Healy, gave up a two-RBI double to Jared King just two pitches later for a 3-1 K-State lead and Bryant never threatened again.
So, did Owens think he may have pulled Schlitter too early?
“No, I do not,” Owens said. “I have been watching these guys all year and they have done a great job for us. The third time through (K-State’s lineup) against a really good hitting team … we had another good guy ready to go who is 9-1 and they’ve also got six left-handed hitters in a row. Craig pitched unbelievable. I think he could have kept going but I did not feel, as the coach, that that was the right thing.”