Kansas State Hands Bears 8-3 Setback in Abilene
March 1, 2014
ABILENE, Texas - Kansas State built an early 4-0 lead, then buried Missouri State with a four-run, fifth-inning rally in an 8-3 victory over the Bears Saturday evening at the Bourland-Ardoin Classic at Crutcher Scott Field.
Austin Fisher led KSU's 11 hit attack with a 3-for-5 day that included a home run, a double and three runs scored, while Jared Moore (2-1) held the Bears to three runs on seven hits over seven innings to earn the win. Ross Kivett (3-for-5) and Shane Conlon (3-for-5) also contributed three-hit nights for the Wildcats, who improved to 4-7 on the season.
K-State, which defeated Grand Canyon 11-1 earlier Saturday, scored three times in the opening inning and tacked on a fourth run in the third on Fisher's home run. But, after the Bears chipped away at the lead with single runs in the third and fourth innings, it would be a four-run KSU rally in the fifth that would seal the deal for the Wildcats. With the bases loaded and one out, Tanner DeVinny sent a one-hopper to second for what appeared to be a potential inning-ending double play ball.
But a costly throwing error on the fielder's choice allowed a run to score and opened the door for the Wildcats to put the game out of reach. Blair DeBord brought in a runner from third with a sac fly to center, and back-to-back singles by Clayton Dalrymple and Kivett accounted for two more unearned runs and an 8-2 K-State lead.
Moore and a pair of relievers made the lead stand, allowing just a sixth-inning run on Conor Smith's second RBI single of the night.
The strong finish by the Wildcats came on the heels of a quick start that saw KSU take control with a rare early rally by a Missouri State opponent. After holding the opposition without a first-inning run in each of their first nine games of the season, the Bears found themselves in an early hole against the Wildcats, who touched up Hall for three runs on three two-out hits in the opening inning. Hall started strong, retiring Kivett on a fly ball to center and Miles on a grounder to short, but Conlon's single to center started a string of four consecutive KSU hitters reaching safely. Fisher lined an infield hit that deflected off of Hall, and Max Brown coaxed a walk to load the bases.
Next, RJ Santigate delivered the Wildcats' third two-out single of the inning--all coming with a two-strike count--with a bouncer up the middle that plated both Conlon and Fisher for a 2-0 KSU lead. A wild pitch by Hall allowed a third Wildcat run to cross the plate before the MSU lefty escaped the inning by inducing a grounder to first.
Hall faced the fire again in the second inning, as a hit batsman and a Kivett single put runners on the corners with just one out. However, Hall needed just seven pitches to strike out both Miles and Conlon and avoid further damage.
Fisher would only need to see one pitch from Hall in the third to add to the Wildcat lead. The junior shortstop belted Hall's first offering over the wall in right for his first homer of the season and a 4-0 K-State advantage.
On the mound, Moore would cruise through the first two innings, yielding just a lead-off single to Eric Cheray in the second while fanning four Missouri State hitters. But the Bears broke through with single tallies in the third and fourth frames to cut the lead in half. MSU used a Joey Hawkins base hit and a wild pitch to set up their first scoring opportunity of the night in the third. Tate Matheny cashed in by lining the first pitch from Moore into center to chase home Hawkins for the first Bears run of the game.
Spencer Johnson started the fourth off with a towering drive for a double that narrowly missed clearing the fence in left-center. With one out, Smith lined a single to right that allowed Johnson to cruise home and make it a 4-2 game.
But the Wildcats immediately went back to work in the top of the fifth, with Conlon and Fisher once again playing starring roles. Conlon led off with a base hit to left field, and Fisher followed with his third consecutive hit--a double to right-center--to chase Hall from the game. After junior reliever Zach Merciez fanned Brown for the first out, Santigate drew a walk to load the bases. On a 3-2 pitch DeVinny bounced to Cheray, whose toss to Hawkins was ruled to have pulled the MSU shortstop off the bag.
The Bears bullpen provided a bright spot in the setback, as Tyler Burgess matched a career best with 3.1 scoreless innings, over which the junior allowed just one hit and a walk while fanning two Wildcats. In all, Merciez, Burgess and freshman Tayler Ross would hold KSU to three hits and a pair of unearned runs in five innings of work.
Smith powered the MSU offense with a 2-for-4, 2 RBI night, while Cheray went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk and Hawkins (2-for-3, walk) reached base three times in four plate appearances.
Next, Missouri State (7-3) concludes its weekend stay in Abilene with an 11 a.m. game Sunday against Grand Canyon.