MANHATTAN, Kan. – The K-State baseball team was unable to overcome an early deficit on Saturday at Tointon Family Stadium as the Wildcats fell 6-3 to KU in the second game of the Sunflower Showdown series.
KU (20-11, 4-4) led for the entire game after scoring two runs in the top of the first, but K-State (18-12, 2-3 Big 12) had its opportunities, including three occasions with the bases loaded with two outs. The Wildcats, though, went 0-for-3 with the bases full and 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position.
“It is about winning the series now and it is a must-win game at home tomorrow,” said K-State head coach Brad Hill. “We just gave [KU] way too many opportunities, and we did not cash in on any early chances.”
Saturday’s loss, which was K-State’s first at home this season (11-1), snapped a five-game winning streak for K-State against KU. After Friday’s 10-0 win, however, K-State will look for its second straight season series win over the rival Jayhawks.
“We set up big innings early, and we set up a big inning late,” said K-State catcher Blair DeBord, “but we were not able to just knock it down and get that one big hit that we were able to get on Friday. Not all is lost. We always say around here that championships are won on Sundays, so tomorrow is a big game for us.”
KU jumped out quickly in the top half of the first when four straight Jayhawks reached base with hits, two of which were bunt singles. The final hit of the four-straight loaded the bases before K-State starting pitcher Jared Moore induced a pop up and a fly out to record two outs. Blair Beck, however, drew a walk to plate Michael Suiter and make it 2-0 KU.
K-State went on to answer in the second inning, starting with a leadoff single by Tanner DeVinny. DeVinny advanced to second on a groundout by Mitch Meyer and reached third base on a wild pitch. With Blair DeBord reaching base on a walk, Carter Yagi hit a chopping comebacker to the KU pitcher Robert Kahana, who made a throwing error trying to force out DeBord at second that allowed DeVinny to score.
The Wildcats used three of its seven walks total in the game to load the bases with two outs in the third inning, but K-State came away empty after DeBord hit a sharp ground ball to the shortstop for the final out.
DeVinny and DeBord collected singles in the sixth, but after an overthrow by KU right fielder Joven Afenir, DeVinny attempted to take third base. The designated hitter, though, was thrown out at third for the inning’s second out after the ball took a KU bounce off the netting in front of the Wildcat dugout.
In the eighth, DeVinny reached base on a two-out walk and was plated by Meyer’s double to left-center field. Meyer later scored on a single by DeBord that made it 6-3 KU. The eighth inning continued on a single by Yagi and a walk by pinch-hitter Kyle Speer to load the bases, but a fielder’s choice by Ross Kivett ended the threat.
KU loaded the bases in the fourth inning, but the Jayhawks came away with just one run on a dropped fly ball by Meyer in right field. Meyer’s error was one of three by K-State in the fourth.
Back-to-back RBI singles by Afenir and Dakota Smith in the sixth made it 5-1 KU. The first of the two-run producing singles by KU was off Moore, who took the loss after allowing five runs, four earned, on 10 hits and two walks in 5 2/3 innings.
“After the first inning, I thought Jared really settled in and pitched really well,” said Hill. “Probably the one pitch that we would like to have back is the breaking ball to the left-hander, [Joven] Afenir. If we get out of [the sixth inning] right there, we would have felt a little bit better about it. But all of the sudden, it turns from a zero to a two-spot in a hurry and that changed the whole game around.”
Ka’iana Eldredge hit the back end of consecutive doubles off K-State reliever Jake Fromson in the seventh to make it 6-1. The one run allowed by Fromson was the only blemish on his 3 1/3 innings. The freshman right-hander struck out three and surrendered three hits.
Kahana earned the win for KU after he allowed one unearned run and three hits in six innings. The right-hander walked five and struck out one.
KU out-hit K-State, 13-7. DeVinny and DeBord were the only Wildcats with multiple hits. Seven different K-State hitters drew a walk, with DeVinny and DeBord being two of the seven.
The final game of the three-game set is slated for 1 pm on Sunday at Tointon Family Stadium. Right-hander Nate Griep will start for K-State and face KU’s Frank Duncan.