K-State Baseball: Gael Inviational Preview

Can Blair DeBord get his bat hot this weekend? - Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The BatCats try to get a win finally, and hopefully four of them.

The season-opening blues continued as the Wildcats dropped a heartbreaker, losing on a walk-off to San Francisco. This weekend, they play four on the east side of the Bay in hopes of returning home at .500 somehow.

The series: Kansas State (0-4) takes part in the Gael Invitational, hosted by Saint Mary's (1-3).

The opponents: The BatCats begin with Portland (0-3), the only team in the field they've previously faced (a single loss in 2005). Portland was 18-36 last year, 8th place in the West Coast Conference at 8-16. The Pilots opened the season in stellar fashion, winning 1-0 at #12 UCLA, but then lost to the Bruins 12-1 and 4-3 in 11. They're led offensively by junior infielder Cody Lenahan, a .300 hitter last year, and Turner Gill, a freshman All-American in 2012 who missed last year due to injury and redshirted. Portland's skipper is Chris Sperry, who's in his 17th year with the Pilots.

The Cats will then take on Saint Mary's, who dropped their first three games at New Mexico State 4-2, 14-2, and 8-6 before pulling out an 8-3 win on Sunday. Eric Valenzuela is the Gaets' head coach, in his first season with the program. Saint Mary's was 21-34 last season, 11-13 (7th) in the WCC. Like K-State, Saint Mary's is faced with a mostly-new outfield meshing with an experienced infield featuring 1B Collin Ferguson, a preseason All-WCC pick, and 3B Anthony Villa, who's off to a hot start in 2014. K-State will take on Saint Mary's again on Sunday to conclude the visit.

The Wildcats' Saturday opponent is Cal-Davis (1-3), who lost three of four to Seattle last weekend, 2-1, 4-3, and 17-5, with a 4-3 win sandwiched in there. The Aggies were 19-37 last year, 5-22 (10th and last) in the Big West. They're now members of the WAC, however. Junior Nick Lynch, an All-Big West selection last year when he hit .359 with 28 RBI, paces the offense along with senior Steven Patterson, who hit .324. Matt Vaughn is in his third year as the head coach in Davis, where he's so far posted a 46-67 record.

First Pitch: Today, Saturday, and Sunday at 12pm CT; Friday's first pitch is at 4pm. All games are at Louis Guisto Field (1,000) in Moraga, CA.

Expected Starters: Sophomore RHP Levi MaVorhis (0-0, 0.00) went five innings with four strikeouts in the season opener against Cal Poly, and came away with no decision in the loss. He'll face Portland's Kody Watts (0-1, 5.40), a junior righty who gave up three runs in five innings in the 12-1 loss to UCLA. Watts was 1-2, 4.46 last year mostly in relief, though he did start four games.

Friday, senior southpaw Jared Moore (0-1, 5.06) will take the hill for the Cats. Moore went 5.1 innings, giving up three runs, in the BatCats' 5-2 loss to Cal Poly last Saturday. The Gaels will counter with right-hander Thomas Cortese (0-0, 2.70). a senior making his first start of the year after two relief appearances against New Mexico State. Cortese was 1-0 with a 9.58 ERA in 2013, making 19 relief appearances with no starts.

Jordan Witcig (0-1, 10.12), a right-handed sophomore, takes the hill Saturday. Witcig had a rocky outing in the series-ending rout against Cal Poly, giving up four runs, three earned, in just 2.2 innings of work. Senior righty Evan Wolf (0-0, 3.86) will start for Cal-Davis. Wolf was 3-5, 4.38 in 14 starts for the Aggies last season, and had a solid outing in their 4-3 loss to Seattle last Saturday, giving up three runs in seven innings and striking out five.

Sunday, sophomore lefty Landon Busch (0-1, 6.23) gets the call. Busch had a fine start on Tuesday against San Francisco, only giving up one run in four innings; his ERA is the result of a disastrous third of an inning in relief against Cal Poly, when he gave up three runs and only retired one hitter. Saint Mary's has not announced their starter yet.

Television: Still no. Sorry.

Radio: Sporadically available on 1350 KMAN, depending on other events, with Rob Voelker on play-by-play. Although the over-the-air broadcast will be interrupted, the entirety is available online via their website.

Online: No video streaming, except for the two games against Saint Mary's, which are available through their website but require a subscription fee. Audio streaming via K-State All-Access, live stats via Gametracker.

Helpful Links: Portland's official preview, Saint Mary's official preview, Cal-Davis's official preview, and of course K-State's official preview.

This post serves as your open thread for today's game against Portland. We'll try and thread up for you for each game, since there's no conflict with basketball even on Saturday.

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