(Courtesy: K-State Athletics)
AUSTIN, Texas – Kansas State scored multiple runs in three different innings, including a four-run seventh to put the game away, as the Wildcats won the series rubber match over Texas, 9-3, Sunday afternoon at UFCU Disch-Falk Field.
The victory improved K-State to 34-15 overall and 11-7 in Big 12 play as the Wildcats moved into a three-way tie for first place in the conference standings with Oklahoma and West Virginia. It also marked just the third-ever series win in Austin (1997 and 2009) and the largest margin of victory against the Longhorns in series history. Texas fell to 24-22 on the year and 6-15 in conference action.
Texas scored a run in the first inning on a wild pitch and K-State appeared to have tied the game in the third when Tanner Witt was ruled to have beaten out an infield single. However, after a conference by the umpires, Witt was ruled out and the inning was over.
The controversial ruling seemed to ignite a fire under the Wildcat offense as the Cats scored five runs over the next two innings. Mitch Meyer and Blair DeBord teamed for consecutive two-out RBI singles in the fourth, including a two-run hit up the middle by DeBord that gave K-State a 3-1 lead.
“It was a different part of the order that did it today,” head coach Brad Hill said. “Mitch and Blair stepped up today. It was good to see those guys come through in big situations. That swung momentum our way. Fisher getting the hit after the intentional walk kept momentum on our way.”
After stranding 22 runners over the first two games and leaving a pair of runners on base in the second and third innings, K-State only left five runners on base the rest of the game and went 6-for-14 from the fourth through the ninth with runners on base.
K-State was led offensively by Fisher, who went 3-for-4 to extend his hitting streak to 14 games. Jared King added a two-hit game and scored a pair of runs, while DeBord had two hits and two RBI. Meyer produced his fourth two-RBI game of the season.
Blake McFadden was solid in his fourth-straight weekend start by allowing just the first-inning run on five hits with two walks in 4.1 innings. After surrendering a one-out double to Brooks Marlow, Jared Moore (3-0) came out of the K-State bullpen to catch Mark Payton and Erich Weiss looking on two-straight strikeouts to end the inning. Moore tossed 1.1 innings with three strikeouts.
“It was a good start by Blake,” Hill said. “We would have obviously liked to have seen him be sharper than what he was. He was what we needed, though. But I thought Jared Moore was outstanding by coming in to get those left-handers. That was crucial by stopping it right there.”
After Jake Matthys allowed two runs on three hits in the seventh inning, Nate Williams came out of the bullpen to throw 1.1 no-hit innings with a walk and three strikeouts. Witt finished off the game for K-State by tossing a scoreless ninth inning with a strikeout.
“Matthys wasn’t sharp today, so now Nate Williams comes in and steps up in a role that was really crucial today,” Hill said. “It was really a complete-team effort today.”
Meyer’s second RBI of the game came on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch in the seventh inning. Following a strikeout,Kyle Speer hit a hot grounder past Marlow at second base for an error that allowed two runs to score. Backing up on the play, right fielder Collin Shaw had the ball go under his glove as a third run came across to give the Wildcats a 9-1 advantage.
Texas starting pitcher Nathan Thornhill (2-6) suffered the loss by allowing five runs (four earned) on eight hits with three walks and four strikeouts in five innings. Marlow and Payton, the top two hitters in the Longhorn lineup, recorded two hits apiece, while designated hitter Paul Montalbano also added two hits.